Monthly Stewardship Update
Written by Haley Sutton, Land Stewardship Associate
Sean Hanley, of Troop 221, completed his Eagle Scout project at Big Bend this month. The scout recruited almost 40 volunteers between his troop and community members to construct a trail from the parking lot on the property to the bridge crossing at Marsh Creek. The scout led the group in laying out burlap followed by a thick layer of mulch to build almost 300 feet of trail.
During his closing remarks at the end of the workday, he explained how completing his project at Big Bend is meaningful because he participated in a Conservation Collaboration Agreement with Save Mount Diablo at that same property the prior year with his school and wanted to build off that experience for this milestone.
As we continue to prepare for the opening of Mangini Education Preserve in a few months, the Save Mount Diablo Trail Dogs and staff installed a trail from Coralwood Drive into the preserve.
Stewards are also preparing the installation of an informational kiosk near the parking area of the preserve that will contain a map and other useful information for all visitors.
Thank you to the Trail Dogs, scouts, and stewards for their efforts to construct trails that many future visitors can enjoy!
With the help of our volunteer property stewards, we visit our properties regularly year-round so that we can observe seasonal changes and respond appropriately as needed. During the wet season, we may need to respond to various occurrences to keep each property safe and accessible. A powerful atmospheric river can raise creek levels, cause erosion, and topple trees that cut off access or damage fences and other infrastructure.
For example, we have been keeping an eye on the fire road at Highland Springs where a bend in the road has been subjected to some erosion. A combination of straw wattles, erosion silt fencing, and an organic coco blanket that is set up around the spot of concern can redirect water flow down the road and stop the rate of erosion.
Volunteers joined us back at Marsh Creek 4 to kick off our first DiRT workday of the new year. All our native plantings from last year needed some love so volunteers weeded around each one and applied a new layer of mulch that will suppress weeds and retain moisture. After the plants received all the attention, volunteers shifted gears to remove additional introduced weeds from the property.
There are huge patches of carrot-top-looking poison hemlock (Conium maculatum) sprouting during this time of year, and volunteers removed seven big bags full of it by the end of the morning. Poison hemlock sends a deep taproot into the soil that makes it difficult to remove the plant as it gets bigger and more competitive for habitat space.
Three additional plants, a mountain mahogany (Cercocarpus betuloides) and a couple ocean spray, or cream bush (Holodiscus discolor), were added to the restoration area as well. Those plants, along with several other trees and shrubs added to various Save Mount Diablo sites, were donated by Friends of San Ramon Creek.
Thank you to our volunteers. We are excited to have you back in the field with us!
Education and Outreach Update
Written by Denise Castro, Education & Outreach Associate
Discover Diablo Program
January 22nd Dr. Mary Bowerman Birthday Hike led by Save Mount Diablo’s Stewardship Associate, Haley Sutton, and attended by nine participants. Participants learned about the botany and geology that make the Mount Diablo summit unique. They were rewarded with stunning 360-degree views from the top of the mountain, despite the blustery day, as they celebrated Dr. Mary Bowerman’s 114th birthday.
January 29th Two Ridges and Creek Hike led by Save Mount Diablo’s volunteer Jean Vieth. Stay tuned for a summary of this hike in next month’s update!
Thank you to all our Discover Diablo volunteers. You all are absolutely fantastic!
Dr. Mary Bowerman Science and Research Program: BioBlitz
Good news! The 2022 BioBlitz dates have been decided. This year we are continuing to host a COVID-safe event that will focus on the 2020 SCU Lightning Complex fire footprint and will run for two weeks from Saturday, April 16th to Saturday, April 30th. Stay tuned for more details!
Top photos by Haley Sutton / New plant growth at Big Bend and Curry Canyon Ranch