Conservation Ranching & How it Benefits Grassland Ecosystems

Conservation Ranching & How it Benefits Grassland Ecosystems

What makes Shell Creek in San Luis Obispo County so beautiful in the spring with wildflowers? Join us on MONDAY, June 24, 2024 for a joint picnic with the Morro Coast Audubon Society to learn how conservation grazing practices benefit plants, birds and many other inhabitants of grassland ecosystems. Presented by Daniel Sinton, part of the family that owns and operates both the Avenales and the Shell Creek Ranch (of Shell Creek wildflower fame) and Grace Ferguson from the California Audubon Conservation Ranching Program. The presentation will be outside as we enjoy an early evening summer picnic at El Chorro Regional Park from 6 to 7:15 pm. Come early for an informal bird walk from 5 to 6 pm. Details below.

Location Details: El Chorro Regional Park in San Luis Obispo (see address and map below). Bird hike, picnic, and presentation will start and end at the Dairy Creek Group area which is the third group area on your left as you drive into the park (across the street from the SLO Botanical Garden Children’s Garden). The closest restrooms are located at the Lupine Group Day Use Area or near the entrance to the park. This is an ADA accessible group area.

RSVP: Please let us know if you are planning on attending, and how many hamburgers you would like us to prepare for your party by clicking on the link below.

RSVP HERE

Here is the complete link if you need it: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1UO77j8tmfNTOs_3rI913H8m92dMKXFQwC5Y2Cpr_QQE

Picnic Details: Bring a dish to share (with serving utensils), and your own reusable table setting (plate, cup, flatware, etc.), in addition to a picnic tablecloth if you have one. If you’d rather not share, bring your own meal, OR have a hamburger on us – this year, MCAS, in conjunction with the CA Audubon Conservation Ranching Program, will be providing BBQ’d hamburgers made with CA Audubon Certified Bird Friendly beef for anyone interested. Assorted beverages and cookies will be provided by MCAS hospitality.

Birding Field Trip: Prior to the Picnic, an informal birding field trip around El Chorro Regional Park led by Torrey Gage-Tomlinson and Mark Mushkat will be held from 5:00 pm to 6:00 pm. Join Torrey and Mark for a late afternoon walk through the varied habitats and surrounding environs of El Chorro Regional Park. This short bird walk will be over gentle terrain and will begin and end in the Dairy Creek Group area in time for the Morro Coast Audubon Annual Picnic! People of all birding skills are welcome. Some of the species we might expect to see include White-tailed Kite, Red-shouldered Hawk, California Quail, Western Scrub-jay, Western Bluebird, Black-headed Grosbeak, and Bullock’s Oriole. Bring your own binoculars and take a casual stroll with fellow birders. No signups are required for this birding walk.

CANCELED: Back Roads of the Carrizo Plain

CANCELED: Back Roads of the Carrizo Plain

THIS TRIP HAS BEEN CANCELED DUE TO FORECAST OF RAIN. Possible rescheduling of this Carrizo Plain trip in late April. Check back here for details. In the meantime, we recommend you check our calendar here for the many other hikes, wildflower show, native plant sale, workshops, and meetings CNPS-SLO and others are sponsoring in April and May. You can also plan your own trip to the Carrizo Plain and we encourage you to check the BLM Carrizo Plain National Monument website and social media for most up-to-date information on the status of the wildflower bloom, and travel and safety conditions at this beautiful remote area.

Remember, seasonal wildflower blooms can vary from year to year even week to week. They are not simply a theatrical production for human enjoyment. They are important ecological events when plants use flowers to create seeds for their future generations. The flowers deviously attract and feed butterflies, native bees, birds and other animals to increase their seed production. Recent weather events like rain, drought, wind and freezing temperatures along with longterm climatic change and human activities can affect the amount and types of wildflowers that bloom at any one point in time. We encourage you to enjoy the variety of a bloom when you are hiking, look for animals visiting flowers, and see if you can detect subtle changes and how environmental conditions are shaping that bloom. As the season progresses, you can also look for and learn about the interesting shapes and sizes of developing seeds. Protect the bloom by staying on trails.

—————————————————BELOW CANCELED——————————————————

This year, the chapter’s spring field trip to the Carrizo Plain will focus on the southwestern side of the valley, as well as a possible ascent up Caliente Mountain Road. This outing will last the entire day. Only vehicles with high clearance (HCV) can be used on this field trip. HCV ground clearance should be 9 inches or higher. Please make carpool arrangements on your own before the event if you do not have a HCV. Limited seating in an HCV may be available at meet-up location, but not guaranteed.  Otherwise, participants without space in an HCV may wish to tour on their own the main roads in Carrizo Plain that do not require an HCV. Many roads in the Carrizo Plain can be difficult to travel after recent rains. Make sure your vehicle has a full tank of gas as this is a remote area without nearby services.

Meet at the Santa Margarita Park and Ride Lot on the Santa Margarita/CA-58 East exit off Highway 101, Lat/Long 35.383290, -120.628037.

Please sign the liability waiver HERE to register for this event.

A plant list for the Caliente Range of the Carrizo Plain can be found on our website here. You can also go to our website here to purchase wildflower books for Shell Creek, Highway 58 and the Carrizo Plain; some items are ebooks which need to be downloaded before you hit the trail. Some of the ebooks are free!

Bring water, lunch, snacks, hat, sturdy shoes, and dress in layers for changing weather.  Come prepared because this is a long and fun day. There are limited bathroom facilities along the hike route. Rain or threat of rain cancels or postpones this trip.

Photo: Caliente Range on East side of Carrizo Plain, 2023, Bill Waycott

The Diverse and Underexplored Lichens of the California Central Coast

The Diverse and Underexplored Lichens of the California Central Coast

The speaker at our February 1 general membership meeting will be Michael Mulroy who will give a brief overview of common lichen species of San Luis Obispo County. Additionally, he will feature some area lichens that are locally and globally rare and worthy of conservation attention. He is most interested in rock-dwelling (saxicolous) lichens, but he will also feature some epiphytic and soil-dwelling (terricolous) lichens.

There will be an optional and free macro-lichen identification workshop from 6 to 7 pm before this membership meeting. We recommend you bring a 10X hand lens or magnifying glass, narrow-pointed dissection tool, notebook, writing implement, and a headlamp to help illuminate the specimens. We will provide microscopes to share, local lichen samples, and tips and illustrations on lichen identification. There will be a few extra supplies to borrow if you do not have them. Please arrive a few minutes early to facilitate quick seating and dispersal of materials in this mini-workshop.

From 7 to 7:30 pm the chapter will have a social gathering (and workshop cleanup time). The formal business meeting and speaker program will start at 7:30 pm. General membership meetings and this workshop are open to everyone.

Michael moved to San Luis Obispo County in 2019 to pursue a masters degree in Biological Sciences at Cal Poly, which he completed in February 2023 as a member of the Geolecology Lab headed by Professor Nishi Rajakaruna. His M.S. research focused on lichen communities of serpentine rocks and soils. Prior to his SLO life, he spent six years working as a biologist in the San Francisco Bay Area, and more recently completed two years of service as a Peace Corps Volunteer in beautiful Panamá. Michael currently works locally as a Biologist for Althouse and Meade, Inc. and continues to plug away at lichen identification and community ecology research.

December General Membership Meeting – Pollinator Gardens

December General Membership Meeting – Pollinator Gardens

At our December membership meeting, Katharina Ullmann will talk about Encouraging Native Pollinators in Your Garden and Beyond. Also at this meeting, members are encouraged to bring their favorite dessert item to share, and chapter officers for 2024 will be elected.

Pollinators are essential to life as we know it – they bring beauty and wonder to the world, help sustain our natural areas and provide critical ecosystem services. In this talk we’ll explore pollinators with a focus on bees native to California. We’ll learn who they are, factors that threaten them, and how we can support them in our gardens. We’ll also think beyond our individual gardens and learn how different communities are coming together to encourage these important insects.

Katharina Ullmann experiences are rooted in pollinator conservation, agriculture, and experiential learning. She has developed citizen training guides for native bees, and tested farm management practices that support pollinators such as hedgerows, wildflower strips, crop rotation practices, and tillage practices. She received her PhD in Entomology from UC Davis in 2015. Most recently she directed the 23-acre student farm at UC Davis.

 

November General Membership Meeting

November General Membership Meeting

CNPS Vegetation Program: Documenting and Describing Sensitive Natural Communities in San Luis Obispo County and Beyond 

At our November membership meeting, CNPS Vegetation Ecologist and Program Manager Mark Bibbo will discuss recent statewide activities of the CNPS Vegetation Program, including vegetation classification and mapping projects in the San Francisco Bay Area and Central Coastal California. Mark will introduce an exciting project kicked off earlier this year in collaboration with Resource Conservation Districts (RCDs) in SLO and Monterey counties and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife including collaboration with SLO CNPS Chapter members and Cal Poly SLO professors, students and recent graduates. The project, the San Luis Obispo, Monterey, and San Benito Counties – Vegetation Inventory, Mapping and Wildfire Risk Assessment Project, will result in up-to-date fine-scale vegetation maps for the Central California Coast Range Ecoregion. Mark hopes to excite and inspire SLO Chapter members to learn more and potentially contribute.

Bio: After studying plant ecology and receiving a master’s degree from U.C. Davis, Mark began his botany career in earnest conducting vegetation surveys in the Sierra Nevada foothill and montane zones from Lassen to Sequoia on projects for the CA Department of Fish and Wildlife and CNPS Vegetation Program. After many years working as a restoration ecologist and botanist for various environmental consulting firms, he was thrilled to return to the CNPS Vegetation Program in early 2022. In his current role, Mark oversees and coordinates field-based vegetation sampling projects primarily in Central California. Mark is a proud SLUG and calls Santa Cruz home.

Social gathering starts at 7pm, chapter business and speaker starts at 730 pm. The Nomination Committee will be seeking nominations for chapter officers for 2024.

Carrizo Plain Tour #2

Carrizo Plain Tour #2

UPDATE: The April 22nd field trip will focus on Caliente Ridge Road and may include other roads on the west side of the valley. VEHICLES WITH HIGH CLEARANCE (>9″) AND CARPOOLING ARE REQUIRED. Questions to Bill Waycott at contact info below.

Two separate Saturdays (April 15 and April 22) to tour the spring wildflowers of Carrizo Plain National Monument and the backroads of eastern San Luis Obispo County. Destinations will be determined based on weather and road conditions. Trip updates will be posted one week prior to the event on this webpage and circulated via social media and the chapter’s email list. As necessary, additional updates may be posted closer to the Saturday trip especially regarding weather. Please note that ample rain this year makes some roads very muddy and may be closed so it will be important to follow driving instructions per the updated trip details.

Meet at the Santa Margarita Park & Ride Lot just off the Highway 58 exit of Highway 101 (35.383284 -120.628717) at 8:30 am for optional carpool organization. Some stops have limited pullouts for cars so carpooling will be helpful. Remember that this is a day-long event when arranging carpools.

Bring water, snacks/lunch, sun protection, sturdy shoes, and dress in layers for the weather. Walking conditions may be muddy. A plant list for this area can be found on our website here under “Caliente Range”. More information about the area can be found at the Friends of the Carrizo Plain website. Make sure your vehicle has a full tank of gas, and note that we’ll be traveling in a remote area without nearby services.

Bring adequate water, snacks and lunch.

Rain or threat of rain cancels.

Carrizo Plain and Backroads of Eastern SLO County

Carrizo Plain and Backroads of Eastern SLO County

UPDATE: The April 15th field trip will focus on Elkhorn Road, as well as a side trip up Hurricane Road to the top of the ridge. VEHICLES WITH HIGH CLEARANCE AND CARPOOLING ARE REQUIRED. Questions to Bill Waycott at contact info below.

Two separate Saturdays (April 15 and April 22) to tour the spring wildflowers of Carrizo Plain National Monument and the backroads of eastern San Luis Obispo County. Destinations will be determined based on weather and road conditions. Trip updates will be posted one week prior to the event on this webpage and circulated via social media and the chapter’s email list. As necessary, additional updates may be posted closer to the Saturday trip especially regarding weather. Please note that ample rain this year makes some roads very muddy and some roads may be closed. This is a remote area with limited towing services and no fuel, food or water nearby. It will be important to carefully follow instructions per the updated trip details.

Meet at the Santa Margarita Park & Ride Lot just off the Highway 58 exit of Highway 101 (35.383284 -120.628717) at 8:30 am for optional carpool organization. Some stops have limited pullouts so carpooling will be helpful. Remember that this is a day-long event when arranging carpools.

Bring water, snacks/lunch, sun protection, sturdy shoes, and dress in layers for the weather. Walking conditions may be muddy. A plant list for this area can be found on our website here under “Caliente Range”. More information about the area can be found at the Friends of the Carrizo Plain website.

Rain or threat of rain cancels.

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