Fencing Sheep, Nurturing Native Plants, and Wildflower Blooms

Two photos of people weeding planting

Monthly Stewardship Update

Written by Haley Sutton, Land Stewardship Associate

Hillside covered in shooting stars flowers

Shooting stars (Dodecatheon hendersonii). Photo by Sean Burke.

Sheep in Action

This month we held our first-ever DiRT day at our Dry Creek property in Brentwood. Eleven volunteers joined staff to install livestock fencing around the lower section of the property so that we can introduce sheep.

In the late summer of last year, we partnered with our neighbor, Todd Ingersoll, to install electrical fencing before welcoming refugee sheep from the Caldor Fire to graze the property.

While the electrical fencing offered a great short-term boundary for the sheep, permanent livestock fencing around the perimeter of the property will provide a long-term solution to our integrative pest management (IPM) and fire abatement projects. This project will also aid in providing a better habitat for native species such as the alkaline big tarplant (Blepharizonia plumosa).

Before the new crosswire fencing was installed, Dry Creek had an old barbed wire fence that would not provide adequate enclosure for the animals. Over the course of two days, staff and volunteers installed about 1,100 feet of perimeter fencing. Shortly after the volunteers completed the project, the sheep were welcomed back onto the property to assist us in our land management efforts.

People posing on a green hillside with a blue sky in the background

Dry Creek DiRT volunteers. Photo by Sean Burke.

Thank you to our hard-working volunteers who got us to the finish line!

Staff in the Field

Stewardship staff have been busily keeping up with seasonal tasks. Staff have been tackling and treating invasive artichoke thistle at Mangini Ranch.

Staff also monitored and maintained the American kestrel boxes at Mangini Ranch, Smith Canyon, and Curry Canyon Ranch Lower 200, under a watchful eye of the falcons themselves. Staff have also begun sampling chaparral shrub and pines in the die-back zone with our partners Phytosphere, Nomad Ecology, and CalFire, and fire abatement has begun!

Getting DiRTy

Two side by side photos of people smiling at the camera while they are planting native plants

DiRT volunteers at Big Bend. Photos by Haley Sutton.

While volunteers prepared sheep fencing, others gathered at Big Bend to nurture our native restoration plantings. The grass has grown vigorously, which could shade out the plantings and outcompete them for nutrients.

Volunteers cleared out the introduced grasses and other weeds around each plant and added a layer of mulch around their bases.

It was a beautiful day at Big Bend, with flowering buttercups, fiddlenecks, and lupines, and everyone was rewarded with a golden eagle sighting! We appreciate the attention and love all our volunteers provide our restoration areas.

Endangered Species Sighting

Save Mount Diablo staff observed the federally endangered California tiger salamander (Ambystoma californiense) on one of our properties! This is an exciting reminder why it’s so important to protect vital wildlife habitat in our region.

California tiger salamander sitting a rock crevice filled with water

The California tiger salamander that our Land Team encountered. Photo by Sean Burke.

Mount Diablo in Bloom

There are amazing wildflower blooms popping up all over the Diablo Range right now! We highly encourage you to get out to explore and appreciate their beauty. Though it’s exciting to see colorful hillsides right now, we typically don’t see so many species in bloom for at least another month.

Upcoming Workdays

March 12th: DiRT Day, Mangini Ranch, 9 AM–12 PM

March 17th: DiRT Day, Marsh Creek 1 & 7, 9:30–12:30 PM

Education and Outreach Update

Written by Denise Castro, Education & Outreach Associate

Cluster of whispering bells flowers

Whispering bells (Emmenanthe penduliflora). Photo by Sean Burke.

Dr. Mary Bowerman Science and Research Program: BioBlitz

Save the date! Save Mount Diablo’s 2022 BioBlitz is coming up soon. We’re continuing our partnership with the California Native Plant Society for their Fire Followers Campaign, a three-year project focusing on all the 2020 fires (over 4 million acres) that burned across the state of California.

Save Mount Diablo’s BioBlitz is focusing specifically on the SCU Lightning Complex for the second year in a row. We have several goals for BioBlitz:

  1. To collect post-fire species information through photographs to help us better understand the impacts of wildfire on various habitats.
  2. To encourage participation in citizen science efforts.
  3. To encourage people to explore the Diablo Range and spend time outside in nature.

Anyone can participate in the distributed BioBlitz at any time within the two weeks! We’re inviting participants to visit public sites that were impacted by the SCU Lightning Complex and take photos of any living thing (plants, animals, fungi, etc.) to upload to iNaturalist. Check out our website for more information on public sites to visit.

Flyer with photos of a burn scar and wildflowers, and the date of the 2022 BioBlitz

Keep an eye out for the following events coming up for this year’s BioBlitz:

  • Wednesday, April 13th: BioBlitz Info/iNaturalist Overview (Zoom), 5:30-6:3o PM
  • Thursday, May 5th: BioBlitz Debrief (Zoom), 4:00-6:00 PM

Discover Diablo Program

The 2022 Discover Diablo schedule is live! You can sign up for any of the events through our Eventbrite page.

We recently led three fabulous hikes.

January 29th Two Ridges and Creek Hike led by Save Mount Diablo’s volunteer Jean Vieth and attended by 10 participants. It was a beautiful, sunny day.

February 19th Exploratory Hike—Del Puerto Canyon led by Save Mount Diablo’s Land Programs Director, Sean Burke, and attended by 14 participants. It was a gorgeous day out in Del Puerto Canyon. Millions of wildflowers were in bloom, and on the hike, staff and participants identified 52 different species, with thousands of whispering bells (Emmenanthe penduliflora) in bloom.

February 26th Bob Walker Ridge Hike led by Save Mount Diablo volunteer Jean Vieth and attended by eight participants. They witnessed amazing wildflowers and stunning vistas.

Hikers posing for a picture on a ridge

Exploratory Hike—Del Puerto Canyon. Photo by Sean Burke.

Thank you to all our Discover Diablo volunteers. You all are absolutely fantastic!

Top photos by Haley Sutton / Staff removing artichoke thistle and DiRT volunteer at Big Bend.

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

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