Friday, December 8, 2017

The King of the Watershed

It's at the top of the watershed food chain. But the mountain lion is solitary and reclusive.  So, though our staff may spot signs of its presence—like tracks, scat, or scratches on tree trunks—they rarely spot the big cat itself. Instead, they’ve set up remote trail cameras that capture an occasional image.

Since mountain lions are largely nocturnal, what nighttime images turn up are dark and muddy at best. So watershed keeper Sarah Lenz was thrilled to find this daytime shot on one of her cameras. “They’re definitely active during the day too,” she said. “We feel lucky to see such a secretive watershed resident from time to time.” 

The 23,000-acre watershed, with its connections to adjacent Peninsula open space, allows for the kind of  wide-ranging wildlife corridor that’s so vital for mountain lions and other large mammals requiring a large territory to roam. 

Mountain lions feed on a variety of other animal species, from deer to raccoons and mice. They hunt alone and attack from behind. After killing their prey, they’ll  bury what they don’t eat and come back to feed on the rest when they’re hungry. Mating is usually from December to March, with a female raising her litter of two to four kittens on her own.  The kittens remain with their mother for up to 2 years before setting out to establish their own territories.   

Friday, December 1, 2017

San Andreas Trail Closure Extended to Dec. 8

The San Andreas Trail closure has been extended to Friday morning, December 8, including the weekend of December 2-3, for additional pipeline repairs and restoration of the trail surface at repair sites. 

This closed segment,between Larkspur Drive and  San Bruno Avenue, is scheduled to reopen on Friday morning, December 8. 

Cyclists please continue to use alternate routes during this time. 

Friday, November 17, 2017

Art from the Watershed

A felled Peninsula Watershed eucalyptus tree has gone on to a new existence as a permanent sculpture by a local Bay Area artist.   

The original eucalyptus comes from a previous habitat restoration project in the southern part of the watershed, where stands of the non-native species and other invasive growth were removed from the lands around Homestead Pond.

The artist, Evan Shively, has created a system for using a whole tree and works with reverence for his salvaged materials. When you saw a tree, he said, “It dictates where it wants to be cut.” 

Homestead Pond, once a vital breeding habitat for threatened California red-legged frogs, had declined over the years. But now restored grasslands and healthy young coastal oaks are providing renewed foraging and shelter for both the frogs and the endangered San Francisco Garter Snake (considered by some as “one of the most beautiful serpents in North America” ).

Friday, November 3, 2017

Hunting and Gathering on the Watershed

These days we’re collecting acorns from local mature Coastal Live Oak forests in the vicinity of Upper Crystal Springs Reservoir. They’ll be nurtured in a nursery for about a month before the December planting. The young saplings will sprout through 6-foot-tall protective tubes, with the future new forest eventually occupying a total of about 19 acres. 

Our crews also just finished hydroseeding about 44 acres with native grass seed mixes, spread out across four different locations along Upper and Lower Crystal Spring reservoirs. The mixes--which varied from site to site--consisted of several  grass species, including some collected from the watershed. The straw-filled fiber rolls, shown in the same photo, slow stormwater runoff and prevent erosion into streams, drainages and the reservoir. 

In all, the Habitat Restoration Program will bring back about 180 acres of native grass, wetland and Coastal Live Oak forest at several different Peninsula Watershed locations. The historic habitats provide essential food and shelter for a variety of native plant, butterfly, bird and other wildlife species, some found nowhere else in California. 

Friday, October 27, 2017

Sawyer Camp Trail Update: South Entrance Reopens for Weekday Use

The Sawyer Camp Trail southern entrance will reopen for weekday use, starting Friday evening, October 27,  p.m. There is a possibility that the County of San Mateo will require a second weekday closure at a future time. 

Coyote Point Ranger Station: 650-573-2592

Friday, October 20, 2017

Ready for Rain, Acorn Plantings, and a New Native Forest

About 13 acres of newly cleared Peninsula Watershed land are slated for acorn plantings, with a healthy young oak forest to follow. 

Protective 6-foot tubing 
The small green flags you see in the top photo mark the sites for the upcoming plantings by hand. There will be one acorn for each 1- to 2-inch hole, spaced about 15 feet apart. We’ll insert a tall, 6-foot tube over each to help the young seedlings grow straight and strong, while safeguarding them from deer, rodents and other wildlife. 

The acorns will come from existing mature watershed oaks, and they’ll be nurtured in a nursery for about a month before the December planting. Irrigation pipes are already in, and we’re also ready for rain with straw-filled fiber rolls. The fiber rolls slow stormwater runoff and trap the sediment away from creeks, drainages and the reservoir. 
Irrigation piping and fiber rolls

Just next to the future new woodland, we also recently converted about 60 acres of land to grasslands, a wetland, and a creek.  

The two adjoining projects follow a recent clearing of large stands of invasive non-native trees in the same area. The work is part of an extensive Habitat Restoration Project to bring back about 180 acres of native grass, woodland and wetland at several different Peninsula Watershed locations. The historic habitats provide essential food and shelter for a variety of native plant, butterfly, bird and other wildlife species (some found nowhere else in California). 

Friday, October 13, 2017

Life on the Watershed: Native Turtle Hatchlings on the way Home

It’s time for newly hatched Western pond turtles to be making their way across the grasslands, from nest to permanent reservoir home. 

Digging a nest above San Andreas Res.
The mother digs out the nest a little way from shore in early summer, and then returns to the water while her eggs incubated in the warm covered sands for the next several months. The young turtles are on their own from the start but seem to know where they’re destined to be for the next several decades. 

Western pond turtles can live up to 50 years in the wild, and won’t reach maturity for six years or more.

The Peninsula Watershed is home to an abundance of native California wildlife species and has the highest concentration of rare, threatened or endangered species in the nine-county Bay Area. The Western Pond Turtle is designated a “species of special concern” by The California Department of Fish and Wildlife.