Took a while to get it together, but the pain was worth it as 40 guests and ten knowledgeable tour leaders traveled from one location in the East Bay Area to another for two full days.
Tours included a first class trophy room, various wildlife barriers in the Altamont Hills and open space lands of Southeastern Alameda County.
Here are some photos taken by the participants on Friday.
Saturday morning brought on a new day of travels as the group slit up in eight four-wheel-drive trucks to tour lands of the SFPUC, EBRPD and private properties owned by Fletcher Ranch Road Properties, LLC. Here are some photos taken by the crew on Saturday.
At the Saturday night dinner, the group donated over $130,000 to the Mule Deer Foundation National Endowment Fund. How about that!
This is the schedule of events for the Conservation in the Vineyards program as they stand on Tuesday February 26, 2019.
May 2: 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM Arrivals
There will be a reception and hosted cocktail party at the Vineyard Inn. The hospitality room is on the ground floor. Just ask. It won’t be hard to find.
Friday May 3: Various tours as follows.
Breakfast will be ready at 7 AM for the early starters.
8:00 AM – 12 PM. Trophy Room Tour The first van will depart between eight and 8:30 and it will take nearly an hour to arrive at Rich Pierce’s trophy room in Clayton. Box lunch will be provided. Return by noon. (Limited to 20 people)
This 38 1/2 in wide buck is one of the larger bucks in Rich’s collection, maybe not the largest.
9:00 AM – 2:00 PM Friday Ohlone Conservation Bank. Rob Fletcher will load his truck up with four guests and take them on a tour of the Ohlone Preserve Conservation Bank. This is a great time of year to view butterflies and wildflowers. (Limited to four guests)
11:00 AM Friday: Holm Ranch. Load up and travel to the Holm Ranch where former Livermore Chapter Chair Bob Holm will show you some of the best blacktail habitat in the East Bay Area. He’ll also provide a group of 8 people with a barbecue lunch. (Limited to 8 guests)
11:00 AM until 4:00 PM Friday. Wine tasting at Livermore Valley wineries. Passes and transportation will be provided.
1:00 PM to 4:00 PM Friday Tour a ranch and wind farm with owner Janice Marciel. Come learn about Wildlife Barriers in the Altamont Hills – wind turbines, freeways and aqueducts. The Altamont Hills are home to many threatened and endangered species.
Friday Evening 5:00 PM until 9:00 PM McGrail Vineyards
Social gathering at McGrail Vineyards. Hosted McGrail wine, heavy appetizers and a sausage table with some of your favorite venison – deer and elk.
This is a great opportunity to spend time one-on-one with MDF leaders, biologists, and land managers while trying out Livermore wines. Enjoy the fabulous view of the surrounding East Bay hills.
Saturday May 4. Open Space Tour 8:00 AM – 3:00 PM and load up the 4X4 pickups at 8 AM. This will be a caravan into Southeast Alameda County. The tour will be guided by many local experts and MDF supporters.
Here are some of the things you’ll be looking for:
The tour will cover three different management regimes. Although these open space lands may look the same, the underlying management goals are significantly different.
1. The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission manages watershed lands throughout the Bay Area. Read about it. SF PUC San Antonio Reservoir
Tour Leader Clayton Koopmann BIO Clayton third person short version with photo
2. East Bay Regional Park District East Bay Parks Stewardship
Bio Doug Bell Bell_BioV2_2019 one pg
3. Fletcher Conservation Lands FCL web site
About Rob Fletcher Rob Fletcher Manager, FCLands
Joe DiDonato biologist Joe DiDonato bio
Saturday Evening 6:00 PM to 10 PM at Poppy Ridge Golf Course
Sit down and enjoy the views. Choose from four meal options. Hosted bar.
Hear what MDF leaders have to say about the state of MDF, the Endowment Fund, major MDF projects and the future. We will ask for your financial support.
Today, DU’s Fritz Reid sent this notice to the members of the Kerry Duck club.
Gentlemen of KDC
Read A Sand County Almanac for the first time about 32 years ago.
At that time I read it as a hunter, looking specifically for information that would be of value to me as a hunter. I shared the hunter’s lifestyle with Aldo Leopold and wanted to learn more about his philosophy.
I gleaned from the book what I wanted to find and that was it. For years I’ve considered re-reading the book and kept it on my book shelf. It is in very good condition, except for my recent dog ears.
This time, I read this book as a conservationist and it had much more meaning. Now I have more in common with Aldo Leopold (especially at his age at the time he wrote the book) than I did 32 years ago.
Now I understand why his book was so full of meaning and why it is appropriately called a “classic of conservation” by many people.
Leopold’s views on wilderness, land use and recreation are expressed in great detail in the book. He was spot on.
I’m sure I’ll be reading it again, and again.
Yes, California Tiger Salamander (CTS) larvae were scarce this year. About three weeks ago we seined 13 ponds and found CTS larvae in two of them. In one pond, we netted only one larvae. The other had 40.
We went back to the pond with 40 larvae today and seined 39. They are now much larger, but not showing signs of morphing.
Here’s a couple photos.
We’ll go back in about three weeks and these guys should be ready to morph and leave the pond.
Our duck club, on Sherman Island in the California Delta, was some of the greatest seasonal marsh on earth. In winter, ducks, geese, shore birds, raptors, river otters, beavers, muskrats and many more critters thrived in that habitat.
It was great hunting.
After the California Department of Water Resources purchased the duck club from us, we continued to manage the property as a seasonal marsh. Then California decided that the property needed to be turned into a conservation experiment.
The primary goals were to reduce subsidence and sequester carbon. This was a prototype project. Unfortunately, the goals of the experiment conflicted with the existing use.
In order to test the hypothesis, the existing seasonal marsh would have to be replaced by permanent ponds.
Having sold the property to the State, we were in no position to oppose the program. The rest is history. Although ducks and geese still migrate to Sherman Island, they avoid the permanent marsh in favor of the remaining shallow-flooded pasture that surrounds the property we used to own.
It’s easy to see the effects to waterfowl when you observe our property. It’s more difficult to quantify the effects this change had on the California waterfowl population, but when combined with other similar projects, it could be substantial. We’ll never know.
This was a situation where one form of conservation conflicted directly with another.
Conservation comes in many forms and we see conservation activities frequently, but underlying conflicts are usually invisible except to specialists who manage wildlife or wildlife habitat.
Ongoing are changes to wildlife preserves and refuges on public lands. Where lands are dedicated simply to wildlife, there is competition between thriving species and threatened species. Should endangered or threatened status always trump thriving or common?
Where land is purchased for and dedicated to a certain species or group of species, one would expect management of that land to be managed for that species. Is that always the case?
Take, for example, land purchased with Federal or State Duck Stamp money. Duck stamp funds are raised by our government agencies specifically to purchase habitat for migratory waterfowl. Hunters purchase these stamps with hopes that there will always be waterfowl to hunt.
California has a long list of threatened, endangered and special-concern plants and animals. What is the ultimate “trump” species? Can habitat for a threatened species displace waterfowl habitat on dedicated land?
Sometimes habitat is designed by the forces of nature. Other times man redesigns land to favor one species or another.
Habitat can be converted by applying water. Timing of the water application is crucial. When water floods fields in winter and is left to dry during the spring, the habitat favors migratory birds. When farmers use water to irrigate, farming can create food for many species including waterfowl.
When land is flooded and water covers the land during spring and/or summer, it is beneficial for numerous species and sometimes waterfowl can nest there, but usually not.
When land is permanently flooded, it favors primarily fish species but there is little food to attract waterfowl, especially dabbling ducks.
We must not kid ourselves about permanent marsh. It may attract golf course Canada geese, but it is not important to migratory waterfowl.
It would be nice to think that conservation always benefits all things, but it’s not that simple.