Planting More Trees, Removing Litter and Graffiti in Pine Canyon, and Awesome Winter Hikes

DiRT volunteers posing for a photo

Monthly Stewardship Update

Written by Haley Sutton, Land Stewardship Associate

Three people kneeling and showing off a newly planted sapling

Stewardship staff planting our 1,000th tree, which is a sycamore tree. Photo by Sean Burke.

Big News!

Staff continued to get more native plants in the ground and spent a day propagating Contra Costa manzanita seed donated by our neighbors at Marsh Creek 6, as well as other native plants, to expand our planting options in the future.

Flame burning in clay pot

Contra Costa manzanita seed propagation using smoke. Photo by Roxana Lucero.

Looking back on this past year, in 2021 we added plants to our restoration areas at Marsh Creek 4, 6, 1, 7, Mangini Ranch, and Curry Canyon Ranch. In addition, we protected hundreds of volunteer trees and other native plant seedlings (including manzanitas) across Curry Canyon Ranch, Big Bend, Mangini Ranch, and Marsh Creek 5.

We planted two sycamore trees along Marsh Creek at Marsh Creek 5, bringing our total of trees and native plants protected and planted this year to 1,000. Thank you to all our volunteers who helped plant, protect, and water those 1,000 trees and plants this year!

Sycamore sapling

The 1,000th plant of 2021. Photo by Sean Burke.

As we look ahead, our goal is to protect and plant another 1,000 trees and native plants in 2022. When we get back from our holiday break, our main focus in habitat restoration will be maintenance, including mulching and weeding to support the new plantings.

More Plants in the Ground

This month, we continued our restoration efforts at Marsh Creek 6. Marsh Creek 6 is known for having a breathtaking view of the north side of Mount Diablo, but on this day the mountain was enveloped in fog.

DiRT volunteers joined us on the volcanic dome to get an additional 83 plants in the ground and complete a mulched trail up to the top where we have a water tank we use to water plantings.

One big reason to plant during the rainy season is the ease in digging into the wet soil. Up on Marsh Creek 6, there is a lot of variety in soil moisture depending on the temperature, aspect, and elevation, making some areas significantly softer than others.

Where there’s thick growth of annual grasses, underneath lies soft soil that’s perfect for digging. One spot of soil may take several minutes to dig a hole, but five feet away it can take seconds!

People shoveling a pile of mulch

Mulching a trail at Marsh Creek 6. Photo by Haley Sutton.

Volunteers quickly learned which spots were more accepting of a shovel. By the end of the morning, the fog burned off, and we were rewarded with that spectacular view of the mountain!

Cleaning the Rocks We Love

Volunteers with Save Mount Diablo, Mount Diablo State Park, and the Bay Area Climbers Coalition joined forces at the Second Annual Pine Canyon Cleanup to remove graffiti and micro-litter from on and around the Castle Rocks.

Graffiti removal techniques depend on the type of surface covered, so sturdier sandstone walls were treated with a graffiti remover called Elephant Snot that penetrated the surface to extract the paint. More delicate surfaces covered in graffiti were painted over with paint that matched the sandstone color.

Two people using a power washer to clean graffiti off rocks

Cleaning graffiti off rocks. Photo by Sean Burke.

Volunteers also walked along Stage Road and scrambled up the rocks while picking up trash, predominantly small shards of glass.

We thank everyone for their help in cleaning up a special place for hikers, climbers, equestrians, and cyclists.

Happy New Year!

We are grateful for all our dedicated stewardship volunteers and supporters that make this work possible. Thank you so much for your patience as we navigated another challenging year, and look at how much we accomplished together! We hope you have a safe and relaxing holiday and a magical new year!


The Stewardship Team

Upcoming Workdays

January 15th: DiRT Day, Marsh Creek 4 and 6, 9-12 PM

Education and Outreach Update

Written by Denise Castro, Education & Outreach Associate

People posing for a photo on top of a hill

Del Puerto Canyon Exploratory Hike. Photo by Sean Burke.

Discover Diablo Program

We had four exciting Discover Diablo events in December:

December 4th Winter’s Transformations in the Oak Woodlands led by Save Mount Diablo volunteers Steve and Carolyn Balling and attended by 10 people. It was a fun hike exploring Los Vaqueros Reservoir. The group got to see a lot of cool birds, including some golden eagles!

December 5th On Belay: Rock Climbing (Morning and Afternoon) led by Save Mount Diablo’s very own Land Programs Director, Sean Burke. This was our inaugural Discover Diablo rock climbing event, and it was a blast!

Because of rainy weather, a previously planned rock climbing event was postponed to the December 5th afternoon session. A total of four people attended the morning session, and 11 people attended the afternoon session. A lot of the attendees were beginners, and a few were young kids that came with their parents. All in all, everyone had a lot of fun!

Rock climber scaling a cliff

On Belay. Photo by Haley Sutton.

December 11th Exploratory Hike: Del Puerto Canyon led by Save Mount Diablo’s Land Programs Director, Sean Burke, and attended by 11 people. It was a chilly but gorgeous day out in Del Puerto Canyon. Participants got to see some spectacular views from the top of the hill!

THE 2022 DISCOVER DIABLO SCHEDULE: We have an exciting set of 36 events ready for release in early January. Stay tuned for more info. Thank you to all our Discover Diablo volunteers. You all are absolutely fantastic!

Dr. Mary Bowerman Science and Research Program

The Eighth Annual Dr. Mary Bowerman Science and Research Colloquium was held on December 9th. Couldn’t make it? No problem! You can watch the colloquium recording on Save Mount Diablo’s YouTube channel.

Grant Program: The Dr. Mary Bowerman Science and Research Committee met on December 16 to go over the most recent Mary Bowerman Science and Research program grant applications. They have decided on three grant awardees:

  • Kathy Cutting from CSU East Bay, Concord Campus, doing research involving wildlife cameras to find out “Who’s using the Galindo Creek Corridor?”
  • Jennifer Natali from UC Berkeley for her “Pine Creek Tributaries Habitat Suitability Assessment” research.
  • Alacia Welch from Pinnacles National Park for her “Soaring to New Heights, Tracking California Condors with GPS Transmitters” research.

Congratulations to all the new Dr. Mary Bowerman Science and Research program grantees!

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