Planting Trees, Trailer Cleanup Project, Fall Hikes with Outstanding Guides

Volunteer planting native plants at Marsh Creek 6

Monthly Stewardship Update

Written by Haley Sutton, Land Stewardship Associate

Students planting natives at Marsh Creek 4

Students planting native plants. Photo by Al Johnson.

Big Trees at Irish Canyon

Irish Canyon is part of the Morgan Territory and Marsh Creek region near Clayton. Protected by Save Mount Diablo in 2007, it’s now owned by East Bay Regional Park District and managed by the Contra Costa County Habitat Conservancy, with help in the field by Save Mount Diablo.

Our watering crew at Ang, which is adjacent to Irish Canyon, looks after the valley oaks, California buckeyes, and willows that were planted there by seed from nine to 12 years ago. Before the Ang project began, Save Mount Diablo helped plant oaks and buckeyes at a few different sites in Irish Canyon along tributaries, and our watering crew tended to those trees too.

Watering Crew posing for photo at Ang

The Ang watering and tree protection crew. Photo by Haley Sutton.

This month, the Ang watering crew joined staff at Irish Canyon to help remove tree tubes and cages around trees that have outgrown their armor. Strong trees ranging in four to 10 or more feet are happily at home at those sites in Irish Canyon, and soon enough, so will the trees at Ang.

Restoring Marsh Creek 4 and 6

This month Marsh Creek 4 and 6 received a lot of restoration attention. Our DiRT team convened up on the volcanic dome that is Marsh Creek 6 to sheet mulch pathways and introduce the first plantings of the season to their new home.

Volunteers spreading mulch at Marsh Creek 6

Volunteers spreading mulch. Photo by Haley Sutton.

We source our native plants from The Watershed Nursery, where we can get plants from seed collected in Contra Costa County that are raised in a facility with best management practices to prevent deadly pathogen contamination (like sudden oak death causing Phytophthora ramorum). The plant species we pick out are known to grow naturally in the habitat types found at our properties.

A few days after our DiRT Day, students at De La Salle High School joined us back at Marsh Creek 4 and 6 for a Conservation Collaboration Agreement. They assisted a restoration project at Marsh Creek 4; learned about local ecology with Doc Hale, a renowned wildlife biologist in the East Bay; and participated in a solo on Marsh Creek 6.

The students created a sheet-mulched path at Marsh Creek 4 that spans from the entrance to the redwood bench along the creek, as well as planted a variety of natives.

Students building a mulch trail at Marsh Creek 4

Students building a mulch trail. This trail will allow volunteers and staff to access and tend to native plantings once the grass grows high in a few months. Photo by Al Johnson.

Doc Hale led the students on a native plant walk while sharing the natural history and ethnobotanical uses of plants. He introduced the western pond turtles and California roaches (native fish) in Marsh Creek, and shared knowledge on major wildlife sightings around the region.

New plantings are especially vulnerable during the first several months while they adjust to the new environment. Luckily for us, all those plants went in right before rain, but we will keep an eye on them and provide additional water if they look a bit parched. We appreciate all our student and DiRT volunteers for their contributions to this project!

Trailer Cleanup Project

Stewards demolishing old trailers

Stewards demolishing old trailers. Photo by Haley Sutton.

At Big Bend, or Marsh Creek 8, there once sat an old office trailer and steel flatbed trailer under a big oak on the middle floodplain. These trailers (being quite the eyesore) have been a demolition target by stewards for the past several years since the property was acquired in 2014.

Equipped with tools and a trusty tractor, stewards got to work passionately and methodically deconstructed the trailers for disposal. Several hours later, the stewards came out victorious and the trailers are no more! Thank you to our demo team that got the job done.

Thankful for Change

In November we witnessed a lot of seasonal changes. Thanks to all the rain so far, we have water in the creeks, and the hills are greening back up. Leaves are changing colors and falling, and we can stomp on the crunchy ones. Northern harriers are returning overhead, and ferns are emerging at our feet.

We are grateful for seasonality, all our wonderful volunteers, and this important work we’re a part of, just to name a few things.

Hillside dotted with tree tubes

Happy trees after the rain. Photo by Haley Sutton.

This month, please share one way you’re grateful for nature and the earth here!

Education and Outreach Update

Written by Denise Castro, Education & Outreach Associate

Black sage plant outgrowing its cage

Black sage from 2020 planting season. Photo by Haley Sutton.

Discover Diablo Program

We had four Discover Diablo hikes in October and three hikes in November:

October 2nd Lichen Hike led by Save Mount Diablo’s very own Education & Outreach Associate, Denise Castro, and attended by six people. It was a fun hike exploring different kinds of lichen found in Curry Canyon.

October 3rd Bird Watching Hike led by Save Mount Diablo volunteers Jerry Smith, Maren Smith, and Joan Duffield and attended by 19 people. This hike was in partnership with the Mount Diablo Audubon Society and took place in Curry Canyon. Participants got to see some cool birds, and Save Mount Diablo was able to lend out six binoculars that were purchased through a grant.

October 16th Borges Ranch Fall Hike led by Save Mount Diablo volunteers Jim and Sharon Lawrence and attended by 17 people. It was a lovely fall hike!

October 30th Halloween Hike led by Save Mount Diablo volunteer Jean Vieth at Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve and attended by 24 people. This was a popular hike for the spooky season!

November 7th Fossils & Birds Hike led by Save Mount Diablo volunteer Jennifer Russell and attended by 10 people. It was a gorgeous day for a hike. Post-hike survey notes: “Great leaders and hike participants, awesome views, would not have seen this area except for this volunteer hike leader and Save Mount Diablo.” “Loved the meditation and tidbits of knowledge.”

November 20th On Belay: Rock Climbing POSTPONED to December 5th because of wet weather (the sandstone was moist and that could lead to deterioration of the climbing wall if it’s not left to dry).

Hikers posing for photo along trail

Pine Creek Loop Hike. Photo by Jean Vieth.

November 20th Pine Creek Loop led by Save Mount Diablo volunteer Jean Vieth. People had a blast. Post-hike survey notes: “The hike was well organized, and Jean was a fantastic guide.” “Outstanding hike guides, great weather and beautiful California!”

November 21st Jurassic Park Geology led by Save Mount Diablo volunteer Ken Lavin. Mount Diablo is a geological gold mine! One person left this note on the post-hike survey: “I have lived in SF for over 20 years, and this was my first trip to Mount Diablo. My head is full of fascinating facts and intentions for future learning, and my heart is filled with immense gratitude for this incredible place and desire for many, many more trips with Save Mount Diablo.”

Thank you to all our Discover Diablo volunteers! Check out our upcoming Discover Diablo events on our Eventbrite page!

Dr. Mary Bowerman Science and Research Program

Join us for our Eighth Annual Dr. Mary Bowerman Science and Research Colloquium! This year, we will continue to hold a fully virtual colloquium through Zoom. This is a great opportunity to hear about research and other projects that scientists are working on along the Diablo Range.

Date and time: Thursday, December 9th, 9 AM to 11:30 AM

Sign up through Eventbrite.

Join us to save the remaining natural lands of Mount Diablo!

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