Saturday, October 24, 2009

New Address for Laguna Canyon Blog

Edit 4/11/2018: The address has been deactivated. You can continue viewing the blog at,

Hello Everyone!
Please note that the Laguna Canyon Blog's address has changed!

You can now visit the blog at:


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Natural History Lecture Series at the Orange County Great Park

On the Orange County Great Park's website,, one can find this very exciting announcement: (Click here to access their page directly)
October 8 and 22, 2009
7:00 PM, at Second Harvest
Free Parking & Admission

The Orange County Great Park will be a new center for experiencing our natural world, and understanding how people and our environment can advance together. The first expression of this mission is a new public and free evening lecture series offering new insights into our natural and dynamic world of Southern California. Our first speakers this fall will confront issues critical for us to have a sustainable world.

After the presentations, there will be ample time for a public discussion of the issues these fascinating speakers will present to us.

Lectures will be held adjacent to the Great Park in the Executive Conference Room of the Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County, 8014 Marine Way, Irvine, CA. Please enter Marine Way from Sand Canyon Avenue and follow the signs to Second Harvest Food Bank.

For information please call 949-724-7420.

Lecture Schedule

Native California Bees Looking for New Real Estate
Thursday, October 8, 7:00 PM
Presented by Gordon Frankie, Ph.D., Professor of Entomology at UC-Berkeley
Pollinators are necessary partners for our food supply, critical for California agriculture, as well as sustaining our natural habitats. Dr. Frankie is a world expert on the ecology of bees and their fascinating adaptations for survival. After years of studying tropical and California bee species, he has begun to focus on our urban environments, understanding the hundreds of bee species around us, often ignored, and their role in sustaining our home gardens and communities. Have you thanked a bee today? Let Dr. Frankie tell you why you should!

21st Century Megafires in Southern California: Adapting to Fires in Paradise
Thursday, October 22, 7:00 PM
Presented by Jon Keeley, Ph.D., U. S. Geological Survey, and Adjunct Professor of Ecology, UCLA
Wildfire! A constant concern and fear for our human communities, and a big factor that molds the natural world around us. We struggle against fire, every year, yet the plants and animals of our region have managed to survive for eons under the pressure of regular and devastating fires. Dr. Keeley is a world expert on the “ecology of fire,” how plants manage with this stress and how the habitats around us persist and change as fires sweep through. How do they do it? What does the future hold for our communities as the frequency of wildfires changes as our climate changes?

Friday, September 4, 2009

PARK(ing) Day in Orange County

This is a fun idea that definitely makes a statement! See information below.

Friday, Sep
tember 18th, 2009
9:00 AM
Location: Old Town Orange, Plaza square park, Orange, CA 92866

PARK(ing) Day 2009


who: business, organization, school
what: design & create a public park in a parking stall
when: Friday, September 18
7-9am: setup, 9am-1pm: event
where: Downtown Santa Ana, Old Town Orange

Join the EGB-OC and AIA-COTE in organizing our 2nd annual PARK(ing) Day Orange County.

Started by Rebar, San Francisco art and design collective, PARK(ing) Day is an annual, one-day, global event where artists, activists, and citizens collaborate to temporarily transform metered parking spots into public parks. Original concept by Rebar.

Visit for more information about this worldwide event.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Full Moon Creative Writing Workshop at the Red Rocks with Thea Gavin

Extra! Extra! Read all about it!
Thea Gavin is at it again with her fantastic Creative Writing Workshops! Please read below for the details.

Full Moon Creative Writing Workshop at the Red Rocks
September 4, 2009 : 6-9 PM
Hosted by Thea Gavin & the Irvine Ranch Conservancy
After a fun introductory exercise to warm up our creative writing muscles, we will stroll over to Red Rocks, where we will spend an hour enjoying the peace of evening and writing quietly until the moon comes up over Old Saddleback. Bring a chair or blanket to make your writing time more comfortable. Adults and children over the age of 16 please.

As of this posting, there are 9 spaces left!
Led ByIrvine Ranch Conservancy
Activity Date9/4/2009
Time6:00 PM
Activity TypeHiking
Distance1-2 mile(s)
Duration3 hour(s)
Recommended Age16+
Level of InterpretationHigh
Additional Information
Please email

Reserve your space by visiting today!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Why Steelhead Trout Are Valuable Species In Our Streams

by Roger von Bütow, Clean Water Now! Coalition (CWN!C)

Aliso Creek Steelhead Trout
Drought cycles and resulting fresh water resource depletions renew the century-old battle in California to find a sustainable balance of protected wilderness and increased human population demands in our home state. Many of these skirmishes wind up in courtrooms, the issues confused in the layperson’s mind by the labyrinth of regulatory edicts and hearing room proceedings.

Portrayed in the media as pitting “Humans vs. Nature,” zero-sum games, many residents are unaware of the nexus between preservation and restoration of eco-systems for threatened or endangered species and improved safe environs for us all. A recent decision by NOAA’s National Marines Fisheries Service due to years of lobbying by the Clean Water Now! Coalition (CWN!C) provides an excellent example of how these local grass roots efforts succeed in assuring future generations of the heritage they and their children deserve.

CWN!C is a watershed protection group focused upon reversing the water quality impairments that affect aquatic and riparian biota. In the case of Aliso Creek, a renowned polluted watercourse rife with the “toxic soup” of urban runoff, we find the formal recognition last month (Feb. 2009) by NMFS of the creek as one of Southern California’s Distinct Population Segments for the federally endangered Steelhead Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) to be fortuitous. Illegal dumping, past and present, of contaminants upstream that have impact spans of decades haunt this and many of California’s watersheds. Increasing urbanization continues a drip feed of carcinogenic substances unabated through urban runoff.

Frustrated by little change in the watershed for years, several years ago Board member Mike Hazzard and I formed a working group, Friends of the Aliso Creek Steelhead The only watchdog organization to achieve any significant enforcement actions by Cal/EPA within the Aliso Creek Watershed, CWN!C knew that water quality and habitat monitoring continued to show degradation and entropy. Many indigenous species populations were either decimated or non-existent due to abuse. We were confounded by local jurisdictional denial of steelhead historical presence in Aliso, so we developed a detailed database to support our contention and provided it to NMFS.

Sometimes a fountain pen or the tap of a few computer terminal keys by regulatory overseers can do what threats, cajoling, demands and even sound science cannot. In this case, O. mykiss also enjoys a more elevated status because it qualifies as an Evolutionary Significant Unit (ESU): It is a separate species from its cousins, unique to the Mediterranean climate of Southern California and Northern Baja Mexico.

“Anadromous,” it migrates from salt to fresh (where it spawns) back to salt water during its life-cycle, and you may know it as the beautiful multi-colored Rainbow Trout, its resident incarnation. Adapted to the warmer, more ephemeral coastal streams of our area, this opportunistic salmonoid can survive environs with less oxygen than its northerly counterparts. Remarkably, it need not return to the watercourse or estuary where it as born.

If a stream has steelhead in it, then one can assume it’s safe and healthy enough for human immersion. This is what USEPA Clean Water Act guidance requires of these types of waters “fishable and swimmable”. O. mykiss’ three primary necessities, low toxicity, low temperature and high dissolved oxygen (DO) content are the markers biologists have encouraged our state public agencies to honor for optimal water quality objectives and standards. What’s good for the steelhead all over California is therefore actually good for humans too.

What’s next? For us the sustaining of our contention regarding O. mykiss by NMFS will assist us in reversing the distress within this watershed. Higher standards will be integrated in the regulatory oversight food chain, almost every water-related project will get closer planning scrutiny and hopefully not require litigation or enforcement action to do so.

For the steelhead it’ll mean eventual restoration and recolonization, a Southern California native fish given a chance to finally come safely home again. Someday, a child will gaze into this creek with wonder and awe at this amazing survivor if we’re successful.

Roger von Bütow is the Founder & Executive Director of the Clean Water Now! Coalition (Est. 1998) website:

He’s also a professional environmental consultant, ecological journalist, the Beach Manager for Cal Coastal Commission volunteer beach cleanup programs in Laguna Beach, and several years ago initiated the Proud Community Affiliate program in Laguna for Keep California Beautiful:

He can be reached at:

We haven't left Orange County (or Earth for that matter), we're just super busy!

Hello to all my loyal followers!
So sorry for the lack of posting since *gasp!* mid April! As you can imagine (or already well know), keeping up two blogs and a website takes many hundreds of hours - hours that I have not currently had the past few months!
Of course, if you have any observations that you'd like to share with the community here on the blog or on the website, please feel free to contribute! I will post your entry upon approval, ASAP!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Village Laguna Hosts the "Aliso Canyon Tour" Saturday, May 2nd

SATURDAY, MAY 2, 2009, Village Laguna is hosting:
ALISO CANYON TOUR at Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park: 28373 Alicia Parkway just south of Aliso Creek Road, Laguna Niguel

Parking available, follow signs.

Departures at 9, 10, 11 a.m., and noon.

Brief description: Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park is managed and protected to preserve natural processes. The County’s proposed “SUPER” project would bring significant changes to the canyon floor, realigning and channelizing the creek and installing a series of dams.

SPACE IS LIMITED-- RESERVE YOUR SEATS by calling 949-494-3624 or emailing

RSVP by Wednesday, April 29

Visit Village Laguna online at

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Creative Writing in Baker Canyon, Irvine Ranch

Today, Thea Gavin's Creative Writing Group was able to go to Baker Canyon on Irvine Ranch lands and take in sweet afternoon inspiration. As a part of the group, I relished in the opportunity to get out there in the wild far from the cars and civilization, in an area I had never trekked before. I also was able to test out my new point and shoot camera that I will be using on my hiking trips (my other one is just too bulky for the job).

A few photos of our experience can be found here.

However, I took a lot of photos of the plants out there that I haven't included in the Baker Canyon Photo Album, because they are now sorted in their respective folder according to what they are! Yerba santa, golden yarrow, black sage, California Plantain, Chamise, etc.

Thea Gavin is looking for creative writers to participate in her project of creating an anthology of works, be it poetry or prose, on the natural lands of Orange County. Visit her website at : for more information on her own work, and for more information on her project.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Live Web Cams at the Starr Ranch Sanctuary

This is the ultimate treat for those (like me) who just love watching our wild animals carry on their lives without the interference of human activity.

The Starr Ranch Sanctuary currently has two live web cams running:

Click HERE to go to their Live Barn Owl webcam page
- on the left hand side you will also see a link for their Black-chinned Hummingbird's live cam.
The Live Barn Owl webcam has audio and infrared capabilities so that we can see and hear what's going on both during the day and night. The Black Chinned Hummingbird's cam has no audio/infrared. Both are a delight to watch!!!

Click HERE to learn more about the Starr Ranch Sanctuary!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

All Ages Art Workshop in Bommer Canyon

All Ages Art Workshop in Bommer Canyon!
May 2nd 2009 - 9am to 12pm
Unleash your inner artist and join us for a fun and casual morning
of creative arts in Bommer Canyon. We will have several stations set
up with artists offering small lessons on painting, writing, fiber arts,
photography, and more. You are also welcome to bring your supplies,
set up in the Bommer Canyon Cattle Camp and spend the morning
writing, painting, drawing, or whatever it is you like to do!
Bommer Canyon is located in Irvine, near UCI and Concordia
University. Upon registration you will receive directions.
All ages are welcome!
This program is FREE, but you must register in order to attend.
Register at the following website:
For more information please call Evelyn Brown at
(714) 508-4768.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Cougar / Mountain Lion & Bobcat Presentation tomorrow, Thursday 2 April at the Muth Center, Newport Beach

Last Minute Newsflash! from Dick Newell of OCTRACKERS:

The City of Newport Beach's Animal Control Department and Orange County Parks is hosting a presentation regarding research on our local cougars and bobcats on Thursday evening, April 2nd at the Muth Center in Newport Beach. Light refreshments will be served at 6:30 pm., and the presentation will start around 7:00 p.m. and will conclude before 9:00.
The center is located on the south-east corner of University Drive and Irvine Avenue in Newport Beach. There is ample free parking in the public lot that is located above the interpretive center.
Speakers for this event include Orange County Ranger Donna Krucki and Don Millar and Dick Newell of OCTRACKERS.
You are most welcome to join us and thank you in advance for the possible use of your photos and for your support of our educational outreach.
Dick Newell

Project BudBurst & the USA National Phenology Network

Here are two exciting projects that all amateur and serious plant lovers in Orange County can participate in, on the scientific level, without having to join a formal scientific study/group:

The first one is called "Project BudBurst" - you can learn all about Project BudBurst HERE.

The second one is called the USA National Phenology Network - click HERE to learn about it.

Basically, you have the opportunity to record your observations about the plants that you regularly visit in Orange County, whether it be on the trails or in some other area. The data that you contribute will be used to better understand climate change and other aspects of nature that we have yet to fully understand.

I, personally, am participating in both, contributing my observations to both projects regarding the False Indigo (Amorpha fruticosa) that we have in Lower Laurel Canyon at Laguna Coast Wilderness Park - and will probably add a few other favorite plants to my list. It is fun to know that our observations count in the scientific world, even though we do not necessarily have a scientific background or degree!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Chris Prelitz, New Leaf America, Sustainability and Living Green

Orange County is a wonderful place to be when you're in need of an expert in a particular field of study. With our cultural, social and educational diversity, it seems as if everyone has an experience or perspective to share, adding to the dialogue that constantly enriches each of our lives.

Where our environment and "green living" are concerned, Orange County is blessed to have Chris and Becky Prelitz, two Laguna Beach locals and dedicated advocates for sustainability.

If you "Google" search Chris Prelitz, you'll instantly come across, a simple site on Chris Prelitz's background, calendar of upcoming events, etc. You'll learn that he formed New Leaf America in 2008 (Visit New Leaf America, at - it's a site definitely worth checking out) - and that he's done a lot of amazing projects and home transformations, both here in Orange County and across the nation.

On the Meetup page for Going GREEN in Orange County, word has it that Chris Prelitz is scheduled to present his new book, Green Made Easy at Oasis Child on Friday, April 10 at 7 PM . (Click here to visit Oasis Child online.) However, Chris Prelitz's site,, gives the date of April 3. We will try to confirm the correct date as soon as possible... but no matter what day he presents his book in Laguna, check it out online and in the bookstores ASAP!

Friday, March 20, 2009

About the Mushrooms in Orange County

I wish that I had had the time in February to write about the various mushrooms in our hills and parks that popped up during the rains of February. Fortunately, the Los Angeles Times covered it to some degree on February 4, 2009, mentioning the Wild Mushroom Walk led by Greg Miller that took place at the Environmental Nature Center in Newport Beach (read article HERE).

There are definitely some interesting points and ideas to take into consideration, where mushrooms are concerned. Take this excerpt from the LA Times's article:

Miller estimates that hundreds of species grow in Orange County, including at least 30 at the Environmental Nature Center alone. He knows of only one other place -- the Donna O'Neill Land Conservancy in southern Orange County -- that hosts organized mushroom walks, weather permitting.

"Any place that has good vegetation and rainfall is good for mushrooms," he said.

Although some mushrooms have hallucinogenic effects, Miller said, most hunters are in it for the taste.

Yet looks can be deceiving. Some species are "edible if you like eating wood," he said. And others, when ingested, cause a slow and agonizing death.

For that reason, the biologist urges inexperienced mushroom hunters to get help from experts and for experts to exercise care.
A more recent article in the LA Times, dating March 12, 2009, shows just how dangerous eating our wild mushrooms can be, when one does not correctly identify them: "Man, 82, Dies From Eating Wild Mushrooms" CLICK HERE FOR FULL ARTICLE. The article notes that,

This year's relatively wet winter has produced a bumper crop of mushrooms, both edible and toxic, health experts say.

Illness caused by eating poisonous mushrooms is not unusual. In California last year, 895 people were sickened by mushrooms, health officials say. Of those, five had major health problems, such as liver failure leading to coma, liver transplant or renal failure requiring dialysis. One died. Most cases result in mild symptoms such as dehydration, diarrhea, vomiting and stomach cramps, according to officials at the California Poison Control System.
The article goes on to explain how toxic and non-toxic mushrooms can often look alike, and how it is often exceedingly difficult, even for a well-versed mushroom connoisseur, to correctly identify them. Among the good bits of advice one finds in the article: never take the opinion of another amateur as confirmation of a mushroom's toxicity, and always make sure to consult with a true mushroom expert before nibbling away.

So what is the best way to appreciate our local mushrooms, after a rainy day, or along moist areas of our trails? Snap a picture of them, sit down next to them and draw them with colored pencils, write about them, see how they add to the beauty of our natural landscapes - and leave them right where they are, planted in the earth, so that the natural habitat can take care of them!

The Grizzly Bear National Monument & The California Chaparral Institute

An important email written by Richard Halsey on March 13, 2009 was forwarded to me this week regarding the Grizzly Bear National Monument. I am including it in its entirety, to pass along the word. I recommend watching the YouTube video (link provided below). Please pass along this information to your friends and family. I also strongly suggest you check out the website mentioned at the very bottom of the message ( - it's a great resource for more information about... our California chaparral!

Dear Friend of the Chaparral,

It’s time to celebrate what was once the chaparral’s most dominant mammal, the California Grizzly Bear, by setting aside the area where the last one was killed in southern California in 1908.

The Grizzly Bear National Monument within the Cleveland National Forest.

Watch more on YouTube here:

Spread the word. Begin talking to your US Congressional and US Senatorial representatives.

The Grizzly Bear National Monument will help spread the word about the fragility of nature and the importance of recognizing what has been lost so we don’t lose anymore.

Obtain additional information here:



The California Chaparral Institute
...the voice of the chaparral
P.O. Box 545
Escondido, CA 92033