During the month of July, I participated in a graduate student organized isotope study, desert pupfish surveys in conjunction with US Fish and Wildlife Service, a Seeds of Success collection with a group from Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, monument setting with the state of California cadastral team, seed collecting with the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research and spent a weekend at Otay Mountain.
The isotope study is part of a master’s thesis for a CSUSB student. The aim of the study is to determine the source of the groundwater at Dos Palmas Preserve. Since the lining of the canal, the water table has decreased dramatically, assuming that canal seepage was feeding the surrounding oases. Samples were taken from 12 locations and water quality tests were conducted, then samples were sent off to the lab for further analysis.
Surveys of the desert pupfish, Cyprinodon macularius, were conducted in two different locations, S-ponds and Upper Salt Creek. These surveys are part of the mitigation process for the Coachella Canal lining project at Dos Palmas Preserve. We set minnow traps filled with bags of cat food for a 2 hour time period and conducted water quality analyses. Then fish were counted, both native and non-native species, and returned to the habitat. Counts were high in the S-ponds but dismal in Salt Creek. There is a possibility of more surveys in the near future.
I was invited to help Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden in SOS collecting of Eriodictyon trichocalyx var. trichocalyx and Eriastrum sapphirinum subsp. dasyanthum in Whitewater Canyon and Senegalia greggii (Acacia greggi) in Bear Creek. We were successful in finding a big enough population and enough number of seeds per plant to make a complete collection.
On a Friday, I was planning on working in the office all day but was convinced to help out the state cadastral surveyors that are located at our field office. The surveyors work as part of the Public Land Survey System, which has been around since the beginning of the United States. We drove out to Johnson Valley to set monuments for the upcoming change-over in land ownership from BLM to US Military. I got to pound the specific marks into the brass monument, thus leaving my mark in history.
I took a day trip to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park to assist the Institute of Conservation Research in seed collecting at Lake Hodges and the safari park for an upcoming restoration project. We were successful in collecting Encelia californica but there were not enough seeds for complete collections of Sambucus nigra, Brickellia californica nor Saliva apiana. While these collections were not specifically for Seeds of Success, there were similar protocols and standards used.
I spent a weekend at the US Fish and Wildlife ranch house in the Otay Mountains. My realty specialist co-worker has some compliance inspections to complete in the area and I tagged along with a local BLM wildlife biologist as we searched for populations of Baccharis varnesse, which we were unsuccessful in finding. San Diego county has a large amount of unique endemic species. Otay Mountain has the Tecate Cypress, Hesperocyparis forbesii; Del Mar is home to the Torrey Pine, Pinus torreyana; and countless others examples. I was also fortunate to visit the botany department at the San Diego Natural History Museum, which is responsible for the Plant Atlas project. The Plant Atlas consists of dividing the county of San Diego into grid squares, then volunteers were assigned a square and collected specimens of the local plants they encountered. These specimens were logged in the herbarium at the SDNHM and are now part of an extensive online database for species found all around San Diego county. I also learned about the local species present at Mt. Gower Open Space Preserve, El Capitan Open Space Preserve, Torrey Pines State Preserve, San Diego Botanic Garden and San Diego Zoo Safari Park. There is opportunity for me to return to Otay Mountain and assist in monitoring another rare species in the upcoming weeks.