On the Ranch
By Operations Director Tim Bulone
What a year it has been!
The Conservancy started out 2019 by preparing a reaccreditation application for the Land Trust Alliance Commission. A small percentage of the land trusts in the U.S. are accredited by LTA, so the staff carefully gathered dozens of documents and answered many questions. It was a true team effort and we are now in the final stage of answering follow-up questions and providing more documents.
In April, John Muir Laws led a two-day science and nature journaling workshop for educators. The excitement of the participants came through in the emails we received afterward. Many were inspired and enlightened as to how they could use journaling to engage their students in any number of subjects.
Also in the spring, the Conservancy, with the inimitable help of docents and volunteers, brought scores of visitors to the Ranch to see what many called a super bloom. Just the right combination of natural factors came together to put on quite a show. Wildflower lovers boosted visitor-ship in 2019 to more than 1,200 (not counting December, of course).
The Education Program, TEJON TEACHES, took giant leaps forward in 2019 via a challenge grant from one of our staunchest and most generous supporters (along with donations from some 85 of you), an ongoing internship partnership with California State University Bakersfield, and the development of new collaborative relationships with CSU Bakersfield, College of the Canyons, and Kern County Unified School District.
The stewardship of conserved lands included a working vacation for members of the American Hiking Society, the Conservancy’s annual monitoring of and reporting on conservation easements, ongoing vegetation monitoring of riparian enhancement areas coinciding with strategic grazing management, and innumerable weeding efforts targeting the removal of invasive plant species.
Science moved ahead on conservation easements in 2019 too. We continued to facilitate Ranch access for academic research, which included herpetological, ornithological, etymological, and botanical surveys, along with several long-standing projects. The list of species native to the Ranch just keeps growing! This year’s research found a westward range extension for the Mojave green rattlesnake (Crotalus scutulatus), a moderate increase in the Ranch’s pronghorn antelope population, release of additional tamarisk beetles as a biocontrol for the invasive trees, soil coring to assay pollen residue to look at vegetation patterns from thousands of years ago, and increased biodiversity in plant species, among many others!
And, finally, in September, the staff undertook the big move from an office on Ranch property to one in Frazier Park. This, too, took a major effort, not just from staff, but from dedicated docents who packed boxes, then unpacked them and hung window shades, among other tasks.
Of course, we can’t mark the end of any year without saying that very little of this would be possible without you, our supporters. Whether you sent a note about how much you enjoyed a Ranch tour, donated to one of our core programs, renewed your membership, or joined our group of volunteers, we say, once again, “Thank you.”
As we head into the new year, this newsletter will become a quarterly publication but we'll still look forward to seeing you on the Ranch!