Here’s what our stewardship team has been up to lately.

Taking Care of Big Bend

Trail Dogs clearing branches at Big Bend

On October 1, the East Bay Trail Dogs came out to our Big Bend property to lend a hand. We went up the hill, clearing out tree branches to make it easier and safer to hike up the road. After windstorms, big branches break and dangle—we call these “widow makers.” It’s important to remove them from the trees so they don’t fall on people. We also removed dead branches that were encroaching on the road. Now the property is more accessible for people attending our Conservation Collaboration Agreement programs and Discover Diablo hikes.

Winterizing Curry Canyon Ranch

Removing hazardous branches from Curry Creek at Curry Canyon Ranch

On October 4, we went out to Curry Canyon Ranch to clear branches from storms out of the creek. It’s important to remove blockages and dams that we’ve assessed as hazardous; we leave the smaller, non-hazardous ones as habitat for fish.

Students Pitch in at Marsh Creek 1 and 7

High school students volunteering at Marsh Creek 1 and 7

At our October 5 DiRT day at Marsh Creek 1 and 7, we were joined by lots of students from different high schools where we’ve done Conservation Collaboration Agreements in the past. We continued making a walkable trail and interpretative path so people don’t accidently trample the plantings, and it’s easier to water them. Some of the crew cleared the creek and scouted for invasive plants. Others started working on trail delineation for the interpretive path that leads to the top of the property.

Taking Our Stewardship and Restoration to the Next Level

grasses and wildflowers at sunset

In mid-October, our two stewardship staff headed in two different directions to learn the best and most up-to-date restoration techniques and land management strategies.

Roxana went to Riverside, CA to attend the statewide symposium for the California Invasive Plant Council specifically with the goal of better managing our IPM program. The most important thing she learned is that every IPM program needs to incorporate monitoring to have meaningful results.

At the Cal-IPC conference, there was a lot of discussion about the usefulness of grazing for IPM. Roxana also learned about some other techniques that we can explore to see if they would be a good fit for our properties.

Denise headed to North Carolina for the Land Trust Alliance’s annual conference, where she attended lots of the sessions on stewardship and restoration, as well as education.

Key takeways for Denise? She says: “When we create our restoration plans, we will definitely incorporate climate-smart techniques, which involves looking at different climate models for different locations to see what it will look like in 20 to 50 years. This information will inform our plant selections.

“In places that are expected to get drier, we will select less grasses and more fire-adapted plants, for example. In other places, we might consider plants that would be good for controlling erosion. We’ll look at a program for collecting seeds from the same watershed.

“We’ll search for specific individual plants that are better adapted to new conditions—this effort will require monitoring to see what survived a wildfire and grew back. We want to collect seeds from those plants. This approach will be a big scientific effort, and it will not be easy. The goal is to support strong genetic biodiversity.”

Denise also returned home inspired to do more school trips to our properties and to work with additional schools, especially in underserved communities.

Teaming Up with Our Neighbors at Marsh Creek 6

Neighbors and Save Mount Diablo volunteer at Marsh Creek 6 workday

On October 19, we held our first neighbor workday at Marsh Creek 6. A team of neighbors, Save Mount Diablo staff, and a volunteer tackled the driveway, clearing all the dead brush from last year’s wildfire.

We always love working with neighbors! We try hard to be good neighbors, make it safe for fall and winter access, and be good stewards of the land.

If you have ideas for setting up a neighbor workday or know of neighbors who might want to team up and remove invasive plants or clean up the creek, please contact Roxana at rlucero@savemountdiablo.org.

Adapting to the New Normal

This past month, we had to cancel some workdays because of fire danger. In the coming weeks, we may need to cancel additional workdays, depending on how things go. As our climate continues to change, we may need to cancel more and more, and we’ll need to focus more on fire prevention—that means more tree trimming and mowing, and working on fire prevention and preparedness tasks in additional months of the year besides May.

We’re grateful for your support in these challenging times! Stay safe out there.