Save Mount Diablo Pivots to Continue Restoration Despite Pandemic

Socially distant high schoolers at the conservation collaboration agreement at the Save Mount Diablo Marsh Creek 8 property

Update on Volunteer Programs

We are continuing to halt our regularly scheduled stewardship volunteer programs like DiRT, stewardship workdays, and IPM workdays because of COVID-19. We will not be posting a workday calendar until we are clear for a reopening.

When we do reconvene our public workdays, we’ll have some rules in place to make sure we are all safe. Currently, we are having some volunteers continue working independently on property monitoring and trail work as part of the essential work. We will continue to try to open some work projects based on stewardship needs like invasive plant removal, building tree cages for young oaks, and others as they arise.

If you are interested in removing invasive plants, watering, or tree cage building, you can email Haley Sutton at, and I will add you to our group lists to reach out to in the near future.

Thank you all for your support! We hope to see you all soon.

First Conservation Collaboration Agreement Workday in a Pandemic

Photography by Denise Castro & Al Johnson

Story by Roxana Lucero

After efforts to honor two Conservation Collaboration Agreements (CCA) failed because of the shelter-in-place order in April, staff worked on a plan with local schools to reopen our CCA program safely. Finally, after all the cancellations and shutdowns, we were able to successfully host our first socially distant student workday at Big Bend.

We had a smaller group to comply with local health safety protocols, only 20 students from De La Salle as opposed to the normal 50 to 70 students. The group was split into groups of five, which provided a much more intimate and personal experience for the students. During the workday portion, students were able to plant acorns into tubes; after the acorns sprout, they will be planted later.

Students also worked to plant shrubs like California rose (Rosa californica) and blackberries (Rubus ursinus). Each plant was mulched and caged for protection against nibbling grazers. We thank our partners and staff for making this a successful event for everyone!

Anderson Ranch Cleanup

Photography by John Gallagher

Story by Haley Sutton

Over the past week, a mighty team of volunteers has been tackling some much-needed cleanup at Anderson Ranch. The crew worked in shifts of three to dismantle a shack, and remove rebar and other dumped and forgotten materials.

The materials unearthed included sheet metal, wire, a plastic basket, and a fire extinguisher. The resourceful team went above and beyond to relocate the items to the other side of the creek using a ramp made of those materials!

Of course, there were some wildlife sightings throughout this process. Four rattlesnakes found within pipes and a woodrat seeking refuge beneath the shack floorboards were reported. The last step to this project will be to fill up the trailer with the materials for proper disposal. Thank you to everyone involved!

Smith Canyon Is Ready for Winter

Photography by John Gallagher

Story by Haley Sutton

There have been a few different projects happening at Smith Canyon this month. The Trail Dogs winterized the trails by trimming bushes and trees to maintain clearance for vehicles.

Another group of volunteers removed old culverts by cutting them up and rolling them downhill. The culverts, along with a bunch of debris littering Smith Canyon, filled up nearly two dumpsters.

A staff effort also removed the wire fence around the dead oak at the bottom of Smith Canyon. We are making progress!

Big Bend Brush Beautification

Photography by Sean Burke

Story by Haley Sutton

A large blue oak (Quercus douglasii) tree branch fell across the main trail going up our Big Bend property that prevented access to the pond. The tree showed evidence of Sudden Oak Death, which is caused by the pathogen, Phytophthora ramorum, weakening the tree and making it more susceptible to strong winds.

Roxana and Sean tackled this project with a couple of chainsaws to re-establish the path, and a few nice log benches (pictured above) were created in the process. Staff plan to continue monitoring and maintaining the oak grove for further signs of Sudden Oak Death to ensure everyone’s safety.

Welcome Margie, Haley, and Floyd!

We are thrilled to welcome Margie Ryan as our Major Gifts and Planned Giving Manager. Margie brings more than two decades of fundraising experience with Bay Area environmental organizations, including Amah Mutsun Land Trust, LandPaths, Peninsula Open Space Trust, Sempervirens Fund, and the Trust for Public Land.

Most recently she served as Development Director for Bay Nature Institute. She is a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE), a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, and a member of the Northern California Planned Giving Council.

Margie is a Bay Area native and a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley. In her free time, she likes to bake, tend her garden, and explore the Bay Area’s vast network of hiking trails.

We are also excited to have Haley Sutton hop aboard as our Land Stewardship Associate. Haley grew up hiking and running the trails on and around Mount Diablo.

Her love of nature and passion for conservation brought her to UC Santa Cruz, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in marine biology. Haley previously worked to restore watersheds through community-focused programs with the South Bay Area–based nonprofit, Grassroots Ecology, as a Watershed Stewards Program Corps Member.

Beyond adventures on the trails, Haley also loves to whip up tasty treats and curl up with a good book.

We are happy to have Floyd McCluhan join our team as our Communications Intern. Floyd has lived among the foothills of
Mount Diablo his entire life. Now, he is very excited to join the Save Mount Diablo Team!

Currently, Floyd is an aspiring English major. He is finishing his last year at Diablo Valley College and hopes to transfer to UC Berkeley.

He loves reading transcendental texts about nature, as well as getting out in nature. Floyd is a runner, has completed several ultramarathons, actively rock climbs, and loves hiking and backpacking!

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

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