Sunday June 4th
- Transportation will be provided to and from all of the field trips, departing from San Diego State Univeristy (SDSU) at 9:00am. Space is limited, so please reserve your spot today.
San Diego Bay NWR and Tijuana Estuary(Tijuana Slough NWR and Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve) 9:00am - 2:00pm
- We have been working here in the Southern California Region for many decades on cross program and cross sector collaborative efforts to attempt to design landscape level wildlife and habitat conservation preserves that conserve the greatest degree of biodiversity and ecosystem functionality feasible given large scale changes to the environment because of large scale urbanization, habitat fragmentation and the effects of climate change.
- We work by leveraging capacities and resources in a science based strategic management framework to achieve shared conservation goals. We also continue work on many taxa-specific studies.
- This tour will allow participants to see some of the coastal resources within southern San Diego County, including the San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge (stops include an overview of the south bay salt ponds; Western Salt Pond Restoration Project and a stop at the Living Coast Discovery Center within Sweetwater Marsh time permitting).
- We will then continue to the Tijuana Estuary Visitor Center for an overview of the estuary and discussion of the challenges of managing a binational watershed. This stop will include a lunch presentation and walking tour. Highlights may include the potential for sightings of endangered Light-footed Ridgway's rails and many other species of birds.
- This tour will be led by the USFWS and TRNERR staff members.
- For more information on these sites
Monitoring Wildlife Corridors with the San Diego Tracking Team(Mission Trails Regional Park) 9:00am - 12:30pm
- This field trip will include a presentation by rangers from the City of San Diego and the San Diego Tracking Team, and a guided walk at Mission Trails Regional Park, focusing on the citizen science of SDTT’s quarterly wildlife surveys of transects throughout San Diego’s Open Space areas. San Diego's Park and Recreation oversees nearly 40,000 acres of developed and undeveloped open space, more than 340 parks and 25 miles of shoreline from Sunset Cliffs to La Jolla.
- Mission Trails Regional Park encompasses 7,220 acres of both natural and developed recreational areas. Its rugged hills, valleys and open areas represent a San Diego prior to the landing of Cabrillo in San Diego Bay in 1542. MTRP has been called the third Jewel in the City of San Diego Park System. Along with Balboa Park and Mission Bay Park, it provides San Diego residents and visitors a way to explore the cultural, historical, and recreational aspects of San Diego. Started in 1974, MTRP has become one of the largest urban parks in the United States. Originally used by the Kumeyaay, the park is the site of the Old Mission Dam, built to store water for the Mission San Diego de Alcala. With about 60 miles of trails, boating on Lake Murray, camping at Kumeyaay Lake, numerous informative hikes, and a state-of-the-art Visitor and Interpretive Center, Mission Trails Regional Park has something to offer everyone.
- The San Diego Tracking Team is dedicated to promoting the preservation of wildlife habitat in San Diego County through citizen-based wildlife monitoring coupled with environmental education programs. For over 10 years, SDTT has conducted wildlife track and sign surveys to evaluate the health of key species, the connectivity of open space areas, and the efficacy of the city and county's Multiple Species/Habitat Conservation Plans. SDTT trains volunteers from all over San Diego County, who together commit over 1,500 hours per year monitoring approximately 50 locations throughout the county.
Wildlife connectivity challenges in Southern California9:00am - 2:00pm
- Southern California is in one of five areas worldwide with a Mediterranean climate and home to an incredible diversity of plants, animals, and habitats, as a global biodiversity hotspot. However, it is also a desirable area for people, and it includes the second largest metropolitan area in the country around Los Angeles, another large metro area in San Diego, and extensive and intensive urban development from Santa Barbara down to the Mexican border. Along with all of that urbanization, of course, comes an extensive road system. These freeways and other roads pose significant challenges to wildlife, both as potential sources of mortality and as major barriers to wildlife movement and even gene flow. These challenges have been recognized for years by wildlife scientists, land managers, and local planners, but reducing the impacts of these roads, especially after they have already been built, is also a major challenge.
- On this field trip, we will visit roads in the southern California region that have been identified as posing significant threats to wildlife movement, gene flow, and survival. Specifically we will visit Interstate 15 in the Temecula area, a major freeway that separates the Santa Ana Mountains to the west from all other natural areas to the east. A long-term study of mountain lions in the Santa Anas has demonstrated that there is almost no movement across the freeway, and that genetic diversity is the lowest that has been seen anywhere in the state or across the west, similar to the levels in another isolated mountain range north of Los Angeles (the Santa Monica Mountains). Efforts are being made to improve wildlife connectivity across 15, and ideally to build some kind of new wildlife crossing, but there are many potential impediments to making this happen, which we will discuss. In the Santa Monica Mountains, north of Los Angeles, there is a very similar situation: there is very little movement of wildlife, including mountain lions, across the 101 Freeway that isolates the mountains from other natural areas to the north. Efforts are also underway to create a wildlife overpass in this area, which would be the first such crossing over such a large (10 lane) freeway and the first in such an urban landscape. Although we do not have time to travel there, biologists associated with this project will help lead the field trip and can discuss the progress and the problems encountered so far.
- We will also visit two smaller, but heavily-traveled state highways in San Diego County, State Routes (SR) 76 and 67. SR-76 is a major east-west connection between the two main north-south interstates in San Diego County, I-5 and I-15. In 2012, wildlife crossings, directional fencing, and escape ramps were installed as part of the SR-76 Melrose to Mission Highway Improvement Project. We will see these structures and biologists with the California Department of Transportation will talk about their wildlife movement study, including road kill surveys, camera station surveys, and tracking transect surveys, that is underway to determine the effectiveness of the crossings and fencing. SR-67 is a major north-south connector in central inland San Diego County. This road bisects large tracts of open space that are part of San Diego’s Multiple Species Conservation Plan Area, and it has long been considered a barrier to wildlife movement. Expanding development has led to increasing traffic volumes on the road, and consequently, a growing need for highway widening and safety improvements. This widening project will provide an opportunity to enhance connectivity by installing wildlife crossing structures along the road. At this stop, we will discuss some of the issues on this highway and talk about the ongoing research project to evaluate and design a connectivity plan for the highway and surrounding area.
Life on the edge: Wildlife Management in an Urban National Park(Cabrillo National Monument) 9:00am - 12:30pm
- Lead by National Park Service wildlife biologists and resource management volunteers, this field trip will focus on the management of a broad swath of species in an isolated urban park in coastal southern San Diego.
- Topics of discussion will include:
- The return of the California gnatcatcher: 2015 marked the first record of California gnatcatchers on the Pt Loma peninsula in 100 years. We’ll walk the Bayside trail, overlooking the city of San Diego and the Bay, while keeping an eye and an ear open for this sage scrub loving species.
- The Peregrine Falcons of Cabrillo NM: Watch the skies for our resident Peregrine Falcons! This singular nest, high above the ocean on the southern tip of the peninsula, has produced numerous successful fledglings over the past several years. Learn more about our joint effort with US Fish & Wildlife Service to band and track this local population through annual nest entries! For more information see our short video.
- Coastal Exploration: Hike the Coastal Trail above the best preserved intertidal habitat remaining in mainland southern California. Catch a glimpse of marine mammals, shorebirds and rare maritime succulent scrub plants!
- The Pollination Project: The Shaw’s agave (Agave shawii) found at Cabrillo NM is the northern most population of this species. In Baja Mexico, it is believed that pollinator of this species is the Mexican Long-tongued bat (Choeronycteris Mexicana), which occasionally visits southern California. Park managers are concerned that the lack of successful recruitment could indicate that the fragmented nature of southern California landscape may have de-linked this rare agave species from its natural pollinator. Hear more about our acoustic bat studies and agave pollination trials. For more information see our short video.
- Art Forms in Nature: Check out our newest exhibit in the park Visitor Center. Using species found within the park, award winning nature photographer Michael Ready has captured the unique geometry of living forms all displayed in a large-scale photo exhibition that highlights the interplay between form and function through an artistically scientific lens.