All across The Preserve, people are finding that caring for the land is a wonderful way to deepen their connections to this special place. Whether gathering cattle, pulling weeds, planting trees or installing owl boxes, this ‘high touch’ time spent surrounded by natural beauty nourishes us individually and as a community. Wonderfully, Preserve members and staff are sharing these experiences with us through photos, social media, notes and calls.
Looking through photos of this summer’s restoration and partnership projects, the Conservancy team is charmed and inspired by these moments. Highlights include landowners sharing stories and images of baby oaks, tiny bobcats, majestic bucks and fragile butterflies; seasonal field staff carefully moving an alligator lizard out of harm’s way or stopping to admire a skink (yep, that’s a thing!); members reaching out to touch a salamander, interrupting play to ask – “what is this scat?” or sharing an eagle or a lion sighting. Often, these are the most memorable moments of our day.
Cultivating these connections as a neighbor, resource and advocate is surely the most important role of the Conservancy. Each of these moments, fleeting as they may seem, strengthen the bonds of community and shared values that bring us together, and which will sustain the health and vitality of The Preserve in the years to come. In the fourth issue of the Conservancy’s newsletter, we hope you enjoy the stories of connection that we’ve highlighted, several of which were initiated by community members. We always welcome your stories and are eager to assist with your conservation goals, challenges and ideas.
FIRE MONKS AND FIRE CHIEFS
AT HOME ON THE OPENLANDS
RESTORING OUR RANCHING LEGACY
IN OTHER NEWS
OWL BOXES. Who doesn’t love baby wildlife? Not to mention a barn owl family of 7 can eat nearly 3,000 rodents in a breeding season. It’s easy to understand why there has been an uptick in members installing nest boxes around their homes. This year only three nest boxes that were monitored had nesting but they all successfully reared chicks! It’s not clear why fewer of the boxes were used this year compared to last year, it may be due to the cooler winter and a possible decrease in rodents in the grasslands. We hope for better numbers next year. If you are interested in installing an owl or a kestrel nest box, please reach out to Dr. Christy Wyckoff (firstname.lastname@example.org). We once again have a source for the boxes and installation, and she would be happy to help you pick a site that the birds might like!
OPENLANDS MANAGEMENT PLANS. These free guides are created by the Conservancy to help residents manage and maintain their Openlands. Conservancy staff will meet homeowners in their Openlands to assess the area and discuss goals, such as weed management, habitat enhancement and wildflower seeding. Each plan will be tailored to the specific Openland with strategies to reach the agreed upon goals, including timetables and maps indicating when and where each management procedure should occur. After the planning stage, homeowners can tackle the work on their own or pass the plan to a landscaper. Openlands Management Plans are living documents. If one management plan isn’t feasible, we will work to find another solution. The plans are one of the many free services the Conservancy provides homeowners.
WEED MAPPING TRAILS. Hiking the Preserve trails as a summer intern project was a dream come true for one of the Conservancy’s interns this summer. Carleton University student Jeremy Alsaker spent his summer mapping 25 miles of weeds along trails in The Preserve’s grasslands and savannas. He was able to map areas where previously little data had been collected. Knowing the location of where weeds reside is a vital initial step in land management. The data collected by Jeremy this summer will help determine future treatment areas as well as provide integral data in monitoring the spread of weeds across many sections of The Preserve.
WEBSITE UPDATE. The Conservancy’s small team often has their hands full forwarding scientific initiatives and fostering community relationships, which rely heavily on communication. An important tool in the communication suite is the Conservancy’s website, which launched in January 2019 as part of an initiative to share land management tools and our work with the community. Since then, ongoing stewardship initiatives and Openlands partnerships have developed and grown, and subsequently the website must evolve too. In addition to increasing the site’s user-friendly navigation, the renovation will also integrate compelling storytelling that highlight Conservancy initiatives and partnerships.
LEAPING INTO LAND MANAGEMENT. The Conservancy will be starting this fall off with many new land management projects. This is in part thanks to grants secured from the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). The EQIP provides funding for rangeland restoration and enhancement. The Conservancy will use the funding for brush encroachment projects and invasive species control in Preserve grasslands. The projects are similar to work the Conservancy completed last fall along Chamisal Pass and are part of the Grasslands Initiative. The funding provides additional resources for the Conservancy to help restore native grasslands in this special place.
GULLY REPAIR. An extensive gully restoration project along the Ranch Club Loop Trail north of the Polo Fields is complete. This legacy impact from old ranch days was located in Wildlands near Moore’s Lake. It included a 375-foot long erosion ditch up to 15 feet wide and 6 feet deep, creating a safety concern for equestrians, scenic impacts and damage to adjacent grasslands. The project entailed installation of rock groins and back-filling with fill from local residential construction, offering a win-win through reduced costs for landowners and high-quality, no-cost materials for the project. The site will be seeded with appropriate native grasses one the rains begin.
COMMUNITY EMERGENCY RESPONSE TEAM (CERT) TRAINING. Conservancy staff were invited to partake in portions of The Preserve’s inaugural CERT training along with Preserve community members and staff. Certified individuals are fully certified to serve alongside Monterey County Regional Fire Department, Office of Emergency Services and the Sheriff’s department during emergencies on The Preserve.
FLYING SOLO. One of our summer interns recapped his experience capturing historical photographs on The Preserve in “Flying Solo at the Santa Lucia Conservancy.” Max Klotz’s blog was originally posted on the Stanford University’s Bill Lane Center for the American West Out West Student Blog.
UPCOMING EVENTS: SAVE THE DATE
October 17: Preserving California’s Heritage Hacienda Talk
October 30: Creatures of the Night: Nocturnal Walk
November 15: Steelhead Trout Quest
For the Conservancy’s full calendar of events, please visit our Member Events page.
UNTIL WE MEET AGAIN
We hope you enjoyed the fourth edition of the Conservancy newsletter. The next edition will be out in a couple of months. Until then, stay updated on Conservancy news through any of our social media channels, website, events listed above, and by participating in any one of several citizen science programs.
The non-profit Santa Lucia Conservancy envisions a place of enduring wild beauty and resilient biodiversity, actively cared for and protected by a thriving community of people for the benefit of all. If ever you have a question or need assistance, we hope you get in touch. Please feel free to stop by the Conservancy office to connect or simply say “Hello” at any time.
© 2019 Santa Lucia Conservancy
26700 Rancho San Carlos Rd.