Sierra Madre & San Joaquin Update!

Thu, 03/02/2017 - 21:20 -- jeremiahbender

Our most recent sites are well on the road to restoration! Sierra Madre has been a CCBER restoration area for a little over two years, and serves as mitigation for the campus housing of the same name. With two zones, the Central area and the Northern wetland area, our Sierra Madre site is divided by apartments that offer students picturesque natural views. Part of the Central area of Sierra Madre can be seen in the above photo, with site manager Ryan Lippitt and field coordinator Steven Ortega standing in a small field of flowering Sisyrinchium bellum, or Blue Eyed Grass.


The dominant feature of the Central area is our restored Vernal Pool. This pool is a wider version of the original existing wetland which was incorporated into the layout of the Sierra Madre Villages. Surrounding paths lead students through a diverse array of local native plants, with the apartment buildings providing increased protection from invasive plant dispersal mechanisms. The apartment building barrier has allowed restoration teams to experiment with increased local biodiversity in the absence of invasive competition. This has led to a surprising outcome, as Southern Tarplant (Centromadia parryi ssp. australis) has started to outcompete all other species. Seen in the above center photo, this plant is recognized as "rare, threatened, or endangered" by the California Native Plant Society, yet is ironically disrupting the desired biodiversity of our restoration site due to its rampant growth. At least it's not disappearing!



The Northern area of Sierra Madre consists of a large wetland area adjacent to Storke Road, with our North Campus Open Space area to the east (left in above photos). This is the oldest restoration area in Sierra Madre, and represents a large stormwater management zone. Most plants are low lying salt tolerant species, such as California Saltbush (Atriplex californica) and Alkali Heath (Frankenia salina). The above photo illustrates the extent to which the area can flood, with water eventually draining through North Campus Open Space and into the Devereux Slough. This area is home to amazing bird diversity, with species such as Cinnamon Teal (Anas cyanoptera) and Wilson's Snipe (Gallinago delicata) making regular appearances. The adorable camouflaged eggs above belong to a Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus) whose chicks will quickly make their way to safer location after hatching. The full Sierra Madre bird list consists of 32 species, and the plant list has over 50 species of native plants on it. That's a lot of diversity for such a small area!



San Joaquin is the newest addition to CCBER's ecological restoration areas, and acts as mitigation for the recently built San Joaquin student housing located next to the site. The area consists of coastal sage scrub, vernal marsh, oak woodland, and costal grassland habitats. Invasive plants such as Ripgut Brome (Bromus diandrus) and Iceplant (Carpobrotus edulis) are undergoing solarization treatments where they are covered in black tarps. The tarps keep in heat and moisture while keeping out sunlight, killing the invasive plants and allowing for native plants to take back the land. Natives planted include a mixture of marshland and grassland species as well as oaks. Below, one can see already see the benefits of restoration in this flowering Miniature Lupine (Lupines bicolor) and San Diego Gopher Snake (Pituophis catenifer annectens). This project is only in its second year, and is already looking great thanks to our awesome restoration teams!


Thanks for reading, and follow CCBER on Facebook and Instagram for more updates and photos of our amazing natural areas!

Thursday, March 2, 2017 - 17:45