ON THE RANCH
By President and CEO Bob Reid
“Back to School.” What does that really mean? Was there a break from learning for a few months? Or is it an opportunity to travel for the fortunate and a day care challenge for many others? One of our priorities is giving teachers an opportunity to use our rarified access to the historic and vast Tejon Ranch, an hour or so from LA, the Central Coast, and Bakersfield, places where many children struggle to learn, race to keep up, and innocently persist, to overcome many challenges, while imagining how to carve a pathway ahead.
Can the difficulties of learning be overcome through experience? We think so… imagine the impact of trekking with the Conservancy, up Bear Trap, Gato Montes, the Haul Road, or any of the places we regularly take schools. Smell the California sagebrush, see the landscape perilously dropping off below you as miles of vista unfold, and feel how the wind, whether warm or cold, braces against you. From a classroom, you cannot frantically trace the flight of a golden eagle, nor the crossing of the road by a graceful, but still frightening to many, native gopher snake.
So exactly what is back to school? It’s not sales of backpacks and pencils, as much as it is a reminder that life is a learning experience. Here at the Tejon Ranch Conservancy, we learn something every day. It may not always be about a rare plant or unusual geology, or even from the spotting of a condor or mountain lion. But hopefully, whatever we learn, from the boardroom to the office to the highest peaks, it, too, creates a lesson, embedded in memory, that may one day remind and inspire us to pass it along. To teach.
Our hope is that we are bringing Tejon, its 240,000 acres of conserved land, to you, in images, in stories, and in inspiration, to be part of this landmark experiment. And if we learn something from it, well, I guess it’s always back to school here at Tejon.
See you on the Ranch!
President and CEO
P.S. If you too believe nature is our best teacher, please support learning at Tejon. We really need your help to continue our education program in 2019.
THESE ARE NOT THE ROCKIES, SO WHY ARE THERE ROCKY MOUNTAIN ELK?
By Chris Gardner, California Naturalist and Conservancy Docent
Photos by Chris Gardner, Dan Potter and Ben Teton
Elk (Cervus canadensis) occur in three subspecies in our state with one of those living on Tejon Ranch.
The tule elk (C. c. nannodes) is endemic to California and is the smallest subspecies, with bulls averaging 450 to 550 pounds and cows averaging 375 to 425 pounds. Historically, tule elk ranged throughout the Central Valley. The Roosevelt elk (C. c. roosevelti) is the largest; bulls average 700 to 1,100 pounds and cows average 575 to 625 pounds. Roosevelt elk are found in the northwest portion of the state.
The Rocky Mountain elk (C. c. nelsoni) falls in the middle with bulls at 675 to 725 pounds and cows at 475 to 525 pounds. However, Rocky Mountain elk bulls have the largest antlers of the three, with a pair weighing up to 40 pounds and growing to almost 4 feet in length. Males are about 8 feet from nose to tail, while females are 6.5 feet.
The native elk in the Tejon Ranch region was the tule elk. It declined from more than 500,000 in the open country of the Central Valley, to fewer than five animals by 1875. Tule elk were reintroduced to the nearby Wind Wolves Preserve in 1998.
Rocky Mountain elk were found on the Tejon Ranch after they escaped from a Tehachapi hunting operation. In 1966 the California Department of Fish and Game (now “Fish and Wildlife”) issued a permit to import 300 Rocky Mountain elk from Yellowstone National Park onto a fenced game farm ranch. The following year, the elk began slipping onto the Tejon Ranch due to poor fence maintenance by the game farm ranch. The current population on the Ranch and adjacent areas is estimated to be more than 400 animals. Ranch elk range in forest and forest-edge habitat. They feed on grasses, plants, leaves, and bark.
Only the bulls have antlers, which start growing in the spring and are shed each winter. Antlers are made of bone which, when growing, is covered with highly vascularized skin, known as “velvet.” It is shed in the summer when the antlers have fully developed.
Adult elk usually stay in single-sex groups for most of the year. During the mating period in the fall, mature bulls will compete for the attention of the cows and will try to fend off rival bulls from their harem. In late spring, 35-pound calves are born. They are spotted and have no scent, which protects them from predators. They spend the few first weeks hiding, motionless, while their mothers feed. Predators include mountain lions, black bears, and coyotes.
Bulls have a loud vocalization, known as “bugling,” used to attract females. Bugling is one of the most distinctive sounds to be experienced in nature, certainly on a par with the howling of wolves or the calls of loons. Enjoy this iconic treat here.
For more on these majestic creatures check out the next installment of our camera trap highlight series by Conservancy Wildlife Biologist Ben Teton
parting words from our interns!
part one: SUMMER REFLECTIONS
By CSUB Intern Hannah Savage
I have had the amazing good fortune of spending my summer interning with the Conservancy. I am passionate about conservation, so this internship has been a great opportunity to see what a career in conservation or ecology might look like. It has also given me lots of hands-on experience. My college courses have not given me many opportunities to apply what I have learned, but this summer has consisted of lots of field days where I was able to see ecology in action.
I want to share two of my favorite memories from the summer—one about plants and one about animals.
On one of my first days here, I was able to participate in a plant survey with a team from UC Berkeley. We spent the entire day in the field using different survey techniques to measure plant diversity. I saw survey techniques being used, instead of just hearing a lecture about them. I also experienced what it is like to be around people passionate about ecology. When we arrived at one of the study sites for the day, the ecologists spent a good 10 minutes excitedly looking around the site and talking about how much it had changed since the last year. Then we broke up into groups to do our surveys. A few minutes later, one of the groups came back to ask about a plant, so we spent time discussing how to tell the plants apart from each other. I was amazed at how much knowledge these people have. But now, as the summer ends, I am realizing how much knowledge I have gained. I still have a long way to go before I know as much as these scientists, but I am learning that actually doing something helps me learn in ways that sitting in a lecture hall does not.
On days when I worked in the office, I did lots of data entry. One of my favorite jobs was watching the wildlife cameras. Last semester I took a class about vertebrates in California. As part of the class, I learned to identify many of the animals in California. I was able to apply what I learned while watching these videos. It has been so much fun to see a bird or a mammal in these videos and be able to recognize it without having to use a field guide. While watching these videos, I also gained an appreciation of the diversity on Tejon Ranch.
This summer internship has been an amazing experience. I am so thankful I was able to spend my summer here because it has given me the opportunity to actually do ecology, not just hear about it. It has made me excited about my future.
ME GANE LA LOTERIA
By CSUB Intern Jazmine Mejia Muñoz
El Black Bear, El Gopher Snake, Los Native Valley Oaks,
El Joshua Tree, El California Chaparral,
El Badger, y Los Antelopes.
A Batey intern at Tejon, what a grand realization.
What a dream, a glimpse of nature.
An immersion into the past, present, and future.
A majestic touch of Mother Earth.
No bad days in this California treasure.
Rancho el Tejon, and surrounding Mexican Land Grants,
I bow to your beauty and conservation.
With MARACAS in the air,
I join the Yokuts in the Tejon celebration.
a night to remember beneath the stars...
Public Access Update by PA Coordinator Chris Fabbro
On August 11, the Conservancy hosted a Perseid Meteor Shower event in partnership with Hungry Valley State Park and the Los Angeles Astronomical Society, managing the largest Conservancy event in its history—with over 100 guests.
The event featured presentations from Conservancy staff as well as the opportunity to view the clear skies of the Tehachapis through the many incredible telescopes provided by the astronomical society.
Tim Russ, actor, director, musician, Emmy Award winner, and astronomy aficionado, joined several members of LAAS for the event and shared considerable information with guests about a variety of constellations, galaxies, nebulae, and planets. Regarding the importance of dark skies, Tim notes:
“We can’t see the stars without them! It was great, as always, to have a chance to view the night sky through our telescopes on a dark night...and people were very excited to see all the distant objects that can’t be seen by the naked eye. I look forward to doing it again.”
To see what adventures the Conservancy has in store this month, please check out our calendar.
SKETCH WITH OUR ARTIST IN RESIDENCE
Join us from 2:30 to 7 pm, Saturday, September 8, for a free sketching event with one of the Conservancy's 2018 Artists in Residence Lisa Ann Mahony. The afternoon starts with a drive through the Joshua and piñon forests before climbing into the conifers above 6,000 feet. Lisa will share recent works and talk about the sketching movement before we sketch (or stroll around) the Tejon High Country.
Click here to sign up
TEJON RANCH ECOLOGY SEMINAR SERIES (TRESS)
By Conservation Science Director Ellery Mayence
September’s Tejon Ranch Ecology Seminar will strive to spend more time on foot than in vehicles. Let’s take advantage of the late summer-early autumn conditions and go for a hike. Though the route remains to be determined, the degree of difficulty will be in the neighborhood of mildly strenuous. As with previous TRESS events, plan for a full day. Please contact Conservation Science Director C. Ellery Mayence at email@example.com for registration and trip information.
Saturday, September 22
ELLERY’S NEW ROLE
We are pleased to announce Ellery’s new role as Conservation Science Director. In this new leadership position, Ellery will provide guidance to our Science and Stewardship programs, and offer new ways to enhance ongoing public access and education programs, helping to integrate the efforts of staff, researchers, and volunteers. Ellery will continue in his role of liaison with the Tejon Ranch Company, while managing conservation activities on the working lands of Tejon.
tejon trivia: name that critter!
Submit your answer along with the contact email of two friends who would like to join our E-News for your chance to win a free Tejon Conservancy swag bag!
the following video was captured by our tunis spring exclosure camera trap in November of 2017. can you identify this species?
Submit your entry to firstname.lastname@example.org and be sure to check back next month to find out the correct answer!