Locals concerned over red fern carpeting Fair Oaks pond

Local News

FAIR OAKS, Calif. (KTXL) — Fair Oaks residents are looking to the county for answers and action after an aquatic plant has taken over a popular pond.

Usually, around springtime, the water at Sailor Bar Pond is crystal clear. But recently, it has been completely taken over by red mosquito fern, and concerned people are saying there has been no effort to control it.

Fair Oaks-native Recardo Hernandez has been going to Sailor Bar Pond ever since he was a young boy.

“It’s beautiful, it’s green, there’s a lot of green. You can see all the turtles, you can see through the water,” he told FOX40.

But Hernandez’s childhood haven has been taken over by a unique aquatic plant called azolla, or in this case, the red mosquito fern, which continues to grow out of control. 

It’s a problem Matthew Penny has also been watching for several months and created his own public service announcement.

“Ducks will still come in and land on it but they’re not even getting wet,” Penny explained. “It can almost support the entire weight of a pretty big bird. The material alone would probably take dump trucks worth to capture it all.”

“It is significant,” said Kenneth Casparis with Sacramento County’s Regional Parks Department. “This is more than we’ve seen in the past.” 

Casparis said they have received numerous complaints from people who frequent the once-busy fishing spot in Fair Oaks and are worried the thick fern may be having a negative impact on local wildlife.

“When you have dense populations of the fern, the mosquito fern like we have here, it does block the light that goes into the water and it can deplete some of the oxygen levels in the water,” Casparis told FOX40. “Over the last two or three months, we’ve received a couple of reports of beavers being found around the pond. So we’ve contacted the Department of Fish and Wildlife to see if they’ll come in and help us determine a cause of death for those beavers.”

According to Casparis, the native species poses no immediate threat to the public or other wildlife. 

“Obviously, going to look at minimizing the amount of fern in there and seeing how we can curb the growth, but at this point, we don’t have plans to remove the fern from the water,” he said.

It’s an answer Penny, Hernandez and other fans of Sailor Bar Pond do not want to hear.

“I’m not certainly the first one to call on this,” Penny said. “A lot of our friends here in Fair Oaks know about this issue, a lot of them have called. We just want to get that moved up higher on their priority list.” 

“They need to get a backhoe or something out here to start straining it, otherwise we’re going to lose this place,” Hernandez said. “It’s sad. To me, it’s real sad.”

The only good thing about the fern is it does control the mosquito population, hence its name. But its unsightly appearance is still keeping many away from enjoying the area.

Casparis said if residents want to take matters into their own hands, that’s fine, but they will need to call the county first and get a permit to remove the fern.

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