Tuleyome Tales: Remembering To Let Go While Still Holding On
Remembering To Let Go While Still Holding On
Lake Berryessa - Napa County, California
By Guest Author: Damien Luzzo
There are two aspects of a photographic memory that truly make it a blessing to have. One characteristic is the constant reminder that there is beauty in this world even if that beauty isn't visible right this second. There are so many magical places in this world and remembering this immutable fact of nature helps you to recall these mystical truths both substantively and visually. In a sense, I never formulate remembrance of any one thing; I simply hit rewind in my memory theater, dim the lights of the external world and see the memory as clear as reality.
When I was a child growing up in Dixon, I was in love with nature. Nature was my walkie-talkie with God himself. If I ever needed guidance or met severe struggle, I spoke through the fish, I let the songs of the birds consume my attention, and I’d even listen in to the buzzing drum of pollinating bees; In order to speak most clearly to my creator and communicate my emotions without reserve and without shame. And this would be my methodological prescription of what I considered ‘True Vacation’. This strategy was effective and it gave me the power to have ‘true vacations’ every time I went with my family to Lake Berryessa. In this placid paradise that I can see vividly with a single blink of my memory’s eye, adventures unfolded, crises were avoided, real and imaginary horrors lurked, great hunts were carried out, and the search for a new world was always a priority.
Lake Berryessa has coves in abundance where the waves don’t dare to enter and the deer come from hilltops all over just to glimpse the sensation of hydration. I have never understood how mankind could kill or hunt such a harmless, gentle specimen. I saw my presence in this cove as a renting, borrowing or invading of these deer and their fence-less homes. To plan out, seek, hunt and kill these wonderful beasts seemed unjustified, unfair and at the very least, invasive and rude. The inefficient licking of the water’s surface was beautiful by virtue of its procedural increase of hydration, and therefore, vitality and life. Even the simple things we look beyond as pure common sense, such as drinking water for survival, are almost enchanting to witness when it is performed by another species. Does their tongue, for instance, succumb as much physical exhaustion from constant licking of the water as, say, the human tongue might? If so, it is remarkable that they can drink so much without hesitation. And if not, it is uncannily mystifying in itself to realize that not even our wildest imaginations can comprehend the same actions being made by a different creature. And then the deer peeks up to ponder your gazing interest, tongue motions persisting as it captures every last drop. I giggle inside from pure amazement and adoration of the deer’s life force and autonomy. The sound of my exhalation causes stirring in its eyes -- a flickering of the left ear, once, twice, and ending with a pause. The deer stands motionless ears elevated, cautious and startled. And in a moment’s notice, the animal is halfway up the hillside from which it came.
In the same hidden coves, there are treasure abound. There a rocks there, crafted by God, just for the purpose of skipping along the surface when given the right toss. There are stones meant for painting along the boulders, for telling the natural world that Damien was here, and most importantly, these rocks were my war paint which I would have to reapply every time I flew into battle. With a previous family leaving behind a swing-able rope, me and my brother would grasp the second and third knots and take our battleships into the crossfire. We would swing for show, for style, for strength and of course, for the splash. My brother may have had more finesse with his swinging battle cry but where I lacked the movements and navigation, I made up for with an unmatched ability to deliver Berryessa the most destructive human cannonballs of all time. As I grew older, the art of the jackknife certainly added to my corruptible capabilities but nevertheless, my nimble brother dearest would steal the showmanship as I delivered my jealousy in the form of wakes and splashes. The rope was my vehicle for competition, certainly; but the rope was also my navigation into the world of taking chances and learning through experience. It was my gateway drug into fearlessness and taking risks. In order to swing, I had to trust the rope, and I did. But the true test of bravery and courage is letting go of that trust, knowing that you can’t hold on without losing progress and swinging back. You let the rope go so you can carry out the mission. And within the confines of the rules of gravity, you follow through with your purpose, your meaning and your mission, and in the end you truly make your splash in reality.
This perpetual reminding of past visualization has a lot of greatness and pleasure credited to it. But, like most things in life, there are two sides to this coin. While great memories give rise to vivid remembrance and the euphoria of colorful day dreams, there are also the terrible remembrances complete with terror, repulsiveness, and the darkness of a recurring nightmare. The times when I have nearly drowned haunt my thoughts every once in a while and the memories of wake-board wipe-outs are painful still. The aching pains of water induced burns from tubing and the paralyzing feelings of sun-burnt flesh ring silently upon each new visit. But this is not so bad of a photographic feature for many simply because we can choose to embrace, ignore or avoid these different columns of imagery locked within.
As I said earlier, there are two aspects of my image-based memory that truly make it a blessing to own. While one is certainly a blessing by virtue of experience and general remembrance, the other blessing is made possible through the invention of time. The many times I've seen the loading dock, for instance, all came to me upon different speeds of walking, different clothing, different postures; I looked forward to different things, at different times of day, with a boat slightly more worn out that what the previous adventure had seen. I may sound hysterical with this attribution of awe towards such an obvious fact of life, that time passes and that things change, but to see it like photos seen side by side has something more. It shows you what is changing. And not just change within you, the beholder, but change of scenery, change of me physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally, and what makes it unique and amazing to my recording of life is to see how I am changing synchronistically with the scenery and how the scenery is changing synchronistically with my perception of it.
As I see less deer, I see more and more the effect that we as humans have on our natural surroundings. As I see the deer walk an extra ten feet for water, I see what climate change is doing to our planet. As I see these two phenomena in retrospect, my emotions evolve and my capacity for activism and purpose grows. Seeing the lake slowly dry up has evolved in my perception from a trivial nonstarter to an emotional reception of anger, frustration and empathy for mother earth. Seeing less deer forces more elicited emotion from the same exact scenes of photographic remembrance. Finding more emotion in these same exact memories ushers in new fear, organically derived by anticipated sorrow for what I might feel if such a vivid memory could be, in a split second, forgotten. This makes me cherish new experiences, to stay as mindful as possible of lessons from my past, and to never forget to let go of the rope, so that I can constantly make a splash with everything I do.
Tuleyome Tales is a monthly publication of Tuleyome. Damien Luzzo is the CEO of SaveWithSunlight, Inc. More information about Tuleyome and the Berryessa Snow Mountain region can be found at www.tuleyome.org.
Tuleyome Tales: Clear Lake hitch face extinction
By Victoria Brandon
Updated: 01/28/2013 05:05:45 PM PST
Last September the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) filed a petition to protect the Clear Lake hitch (lavinia exilicauda chi) under both the federal and state Endangered Species Acts.
The hitch is an ancient fish in the minnow family found only in Clear Lake. They live in deep water most of the year, but every spring the adults work their way up the tributary creeks to spawn. They used to be extraordinarily abundant, forming a vital part of the ecosystem and an important food source for birds, wildlife and the indigenous people of the Clear Lake basin, but in recent years their population has declined precipitously, for reasons that seem to include streambed obstructions, predation by introduced fish, impaired water quality and food competition.
The millions of hitch that used to migrate up into all the lake's tributaries during their spawning runs are now reduced to a few thousand, found in significant numbers in only two streams. Their closest relative, the Clear Lake splittail, was driven to extinction by the middle 1970s and without strong proactive corrective measures, the hitch are vulnerable to the same fate.
CBD's petition proposes recovery measures such as removing or retrofitting barriers to fish migration, improving instream water flows, restoring fish to former spawning streams and reducing predation near the mouths of spawning streams. The filing could also provide leverage to improve the chances of getting funding for diverse conservation projects benefitting many native species and improving the general health of the lake as well.
Preliminary findings from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and California Department of Fish and Wildlife are still pending.
Lake County undrstanding of both the ecological and procedural considerations were greatly enriched by an informative public workshop held in Lakeport on Dec. 3. Under the joint sponsorship of the Chi Council for the Clear Lake Hitch, Lake County Fish and Wildlife Advisory Committee and University of California Cooperative Extension, the meeting featured authoritative presentations on the hitch and their ecosystem, on preservation efforts to date and on the federal listing process.
Several points were made very clear. First, the ecology of the lake is extremely complex and effects on the hitch which are also impacted by conditions in the tributary streams where their annual spawning runs take place are neither linear nor obvious. Second, the responsible agencies are overworked, understaffed and underfunded, so nothing is going to happen quickly. Third, although the consequences of listing are impossible to predict at this point, opportunities exist to use this process not only to benefit a single species but also to create conditions that will encourage the recovery of the entire ecosystem of Clear Lake and its watershed, including downstream portions in the heart of the Berryessa Snow Mountain region.
The ultimate result is up to the community: pulling together, we have a chance to create a mutually beneficial result and, in the process, to keep the Clear Lake hitch from spiraling down the dark one-way slide to extinction.
For additional information about the hitch and the listing process, visit www.lakelive.info/chicouncil.
Tuleyome Tales is a monthly publication of Tuleyome. Victoria Brandon is the chair of the Sierra Club Redwood Chapter and a member of the Tuleyome Board of Directors. She also chairs the California Invasive Species Advisory Committee. More information can be found at www.tuleyome.org.
Tuleyome Tales: Think outside the cage on National Bird Day
Friday, 04 January 2013 01:39 Charlotte Orr
LAKE COUNTY, Calif. – Saturday, Jan. 5, marks National Bird Day, a day to reflect on the survival and well-being of the world's birds.
National Bird Day was established by bird activists to bring awareness to issues affecting captive and wild birds, but it is also a wonderful opportunity to be thankful for the native wild birds we see outside our windows.
Whether you are a bird owner, birdwatcher or simply a wildlife enthusiast, what better way to celebrate National Bird Day than signing up for an outing to view our national bird, the American bald eagle?
During January and February, the Bureau of Land Management will host free guided hikes to look for wintering bald eagles in the Cache Creek Natural Area in Lake County.
Hikers will enjoy scenic vistas of the Cache Creek Canyon, where eagles often soar over the creek and perch in streamside trees.
The Berryessa Snow Mountain region is host to California's second-largest population of wintering bald eagles.
Winter is the best time to look for these brilliant birds because they tend to concentrate in small areas.
With open water and fresh food sources such as catfish and carp, the Cache Creek Natural Area provides the perfect habitat for wintering bald eagles as they feed, soar and roost until about mid-April.
Spotting a bald eagle in person is not only an impressive sight, but also an inspiring reminder of how the species has recovered from near extinction.
Although bald eagles have made a remarkable comeback, continued conservation is necessary to keep populations strong.
Wild birds are an integral part of the natural community, but they need healthy habitats to survive. Permanent protection for the Berryessa Snow Mountain region will provide a safeguard for all of the unique birds and wildlife that we are able to come into close contact with and enjoy.
This National Bird Day, consider the wonderful diversity of birds, such as the bald eagle, living right here in our backyard. Take the opportunity to see it yourself, by signing up for the Bureau of Land Management’s free guided bald eagle hikes.
Participants in the guided hikes often spot other wildlife including tule elk, golden eagles, osprey, herons, red-tailed hawks and egrets.
Guided hikes will be held on Saturdays, Jan. 12, 19 and 26, and Feb. 2, 9, 16 and 23.
They will start at the Redbud Trailhead parking area, eight miles east of Clearlake Oaks on Highway 20 at 10 a.m.
The hikes are four-miles long – including a steep 600-foot climb in the first mile – and will last three to four hours.
Participants should wear sturdy hiking boots suitable for wet conditions and dress for cold weather.
In addition, participants should bring water, a lunch and binoculars.
Space is limited. Reserve a spot by contacting the Bureau of Land Management’s Ukiah Field Office at 707-468-4000.
For more information on permanent protection for the Berryessa Snow Mountain region, visit www.berryessasnowmountain.org .
Tuleyome Tales is produced by Tuleyome, a regional conservation organization based in Woodland. Charlotte Orr, a member of the Tuleyome staff, graduated from U.C. Davis with a B.S. in community and regional development, emphasizing in environmental policy and education.
Cache Creek a place to get away to nature
By SARA D. HUSBY-GOOD/Executive Director of Tuleyome
Created: 11/03/2012 12:30:54 AM PDT
Did you know that the Cache Creek River and the Cache Creek Natural Area is right in your own back yard? Just a quick 50 mile hop, skip, and a jump in the car and you could soon find yourself immersed in an area rich in natural wonder and excellent outdoor recreation.
The Cache Creek Natural Area is made up of more than 70,000 acres of public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management 4,700 acres of State and County public land. Of the 70,000 acres of secluded, hilly expanse of oak woodlands, grasslands, and chaparral, on BLM public lands, 27,245 acres was put into permanent protection as Wilderness in 2006 under Congressman Mike Thompson's Northern California Coastal Wild Heritage Act.
The Cache Creek Natural Area is also home to one of the largest wintering habitats for bald eagles. From mid-October until mid-April you can discover the bald eagles soaring above, feeding on catfish and carp from the Cache Creek River, or nesting in trees high above your heads.
And if you keep an eye out on hillsides, near brushy cover you might be able to see Tule elk and blacktail deer. You may also be able to spot a river otter under the Highway 20 Bridge if you have a bit of patience.
The Cache Creek River flows year round through this magnificent natural area and is a tributary to the Sacramento River.
In 2005, led by local group Tuleyome, AB 1328 was introduced by then Assembly member Lois Wolk to designate a portion of Cache Creek as a California Wild and
But the Cache Creek River also has a history with hydrology. The Cache Creek Dam on the Main Fork of Cache Creek, about five miles downstream from Clear Lake, was built to increase Clear Lake's capacity and to regulate outflow for downstream users of Cache Creek water.
While the Indian Valley Dam on the North Fork of Cache Creek forms Indian Valley Reservoir. The dam's primary purpose is water storage for irrigation, but a 3.3 MW hydroelectric plant was built to take advantage of the falling water.
When water is released from the dams during the summertime, the Cache Creek River is an ideal spot for kayaking, canoeing, or rafting down the river.
But everything I just told you are facts. What about the story behind the Cache Creek Natural Area and the Cache Creek River?
Did you know that the Cache Creek River was named by the Hudson Bay Company, trappers who caught furs along the Sacramento River and other tributaries?
The original name given by the Hudson Bay Company was Rivière la Cache. Or did you know that gravel mining has taken place up and down Cache Creek and innovative projects like the Jan T. Lowrey Cache Creek Nature Preserve emerged out of struggles over whether and how much to mine out of the river?
Want to learn more about how local history and ecology intersect? Then I suggest attending one of the Restore/Restory project presentations scheduled for Sunday, Nov. 4; or Thursday, Nov. 8 and Friday, Nov. 9. Restore/Restory explores the different social, cultural, and environmental histories of the Cache Creek Nature Preserve through the voices of a wide range of Yolo County residents.
The project involved over 200 Yolo County people in a collaborative effort to chronicle our diverse and changing demographics, traditions and relationships with the land.
Collectively, they a wide array of media art work that you can explore at restorerestory.org. Restore/Restory is a project of the UC Davis Art of Regional Change in collaboration with the Cache Creek Conservancy. For more information on upcoming presentations go to http://artofregionalchange.ucdavis.edu/?page_id=1070).
But also take the opportunity to get out and create your own stories and adventures in the Cache Creek Natural Area with your friends and family. Year round the region offers adventures suited for everyone. The Cache Creek Region offers hiking, fishing, hunting, equestrian usage, birding, and a great opportunity to see rare wildflowers.
Tuleyome Tales is produced by Tuleyome , a regional conservation organization based in Woodland. Sara Husby-Good is the Executive Director. You can learn more at www.tuleyome.org
Sunday, October 21, 2012
YOLO COUNTY, CALIFORNIA
Volume 115 · Issue 209 | 99¢
Tuleyome Tales: Enjoy the outdoors, but hike safely
Lake Berryessa stretches out below in this view from Cold Canyon Ridge above Annie's Rock. Hiking the beautiful back country of Northern California is particularly appealing in the fall. Jim Rose/Courtesy photo
By Special to The Enterprise
From page A14 | October 21, 2012
By Bob Schneider
Fall is here; temperatures are cooling; and the hiking season begins! I am really looking forward to revisiting favorite trails and hiking new trails throughout the region. It is also time to do a bit of trail maintenance.
As we pack our packs and tighten our laces it is important to also remember to hike safety. We are fortunate to have dedicated public safety men and women who take time away from their families and incur personal risks to aid those who in need. But, let’s be sure that we take personal responsibility and do our best to let them enjoy their time at home.
Here are a few pointers to help us have a great safe trip:
* Know where you are going and let others know. There are maps online and trail books at outdoor stores. Plan your trip and let friends or family know your plan.
* Take adequate water. While the high heat of summer maybe gone, we still need water — at least a quart and I recommend two for a day hike. I use a water bladder and hose for sipping. Whenever I think of water or thirst I always take a sip to stay hydrated.
* It is good to have some basic first-aid supplies. While super glue and duct tape are invaluable, you can also purchase small first-aid kits at outdoor stores.
* Keep up your energy level. It is nice to have a sandwich, nuts and dried fruit but energy bars can give a quick boost and make for a happier hiking experience.
* Flashlights can allow you to hike and avoid an unplanned night out. Leaving late and getting benighted is not a reason for a rescue! I like to use headlamps.
* A hat, dark glasses and sunscreen protect from the sun. Take them with you and use them.
* Whistle, signal mirror or cell phone? It is nice to be able too call for help when really necessary. Unfortunately, some calls are irresponsible. Is somebody injured? Is it a life-threatening emergency? Do I really need help or can a figure this out myself? These are important questions to ask.
* Rain clothes. It is always good to dress in layers with poly pro or other wicking material close to your skin. Your outer layer can be Goretex but in our area you are often better with waterproof raincoat and rain pants.
Yes, there are rattlesnakes so keep an eye out. They don’t always “rattle” but they will generally avoid us unless startled, provoked or stepped on. Personally, I do not recommend getting closer for a photo. Also, the small ones are often the most dangerous as they have not yet learned to regulate their dosage.
I have not seen a mountain lion in our region (yet) but I vividly recall seeing footprints on two frost-covered steps at Cold Canyon. It was exciting and just a bit scary. Attacks are extremely rare but it is wise to be aware particularly with pets and small children at dusk and dawn.
Yep, there is a bit of poison oak! If you are susceptible learn to identify the plant in all seasons. Wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts and stay on the trails. When you get home remove your clothes and wash them. Take a shower and start with a very thorough hand washing. Tecnu soap is recommended for washing away poison oak oils.
Mosquitoes can be present and watch out for ticks that might carry Lyme disease. Take a good repellent.
I use walking sticks when I hike. I find they help stability, ease stress on the knees and help prevent sprained ankles. The science says they are more efficient and I like that they exercise your upper body. What’s not to like?
Please do not cut switchbacks. It causes erosion and habitat destruction. Ultimately, someone must repair the damage. It starts with one self-important person or group who believe this does not apply to them. They cut the first path straight down the hill and then others follow. Please don’t!
So be careful and have a really great safe hike. For more information, go to www.tuleyome.org.
— Bob Schneider of Davis is Tuleyome’s senior policy director. He has climbed and hiked over much of the planet but now focuses much of his exploration in the Berryessa Snow Mountain Region. Tuleyome Tales is published monthly.
Wednesday, August 1, 2012
YOLO COUNTY, CALIFORNIA
Volume 115 · Issue 151 |
Tuleyome Tales: The wild nearby
By Andrew Fulks August 02, 2012 |
It’s summer 2012. The slap, slap, slap of Cache Creek drums on the bottom of my boat as I paddle down the North Fork. Bobbing, weaving, head down. Branches have grown since last summer. The North Fork is the first couple miles of the wilderness run and the vegetation makes for more difficult obstacles than farther down on the main stem of the creek.
Flows are high this year, despite the drought. It’s an artifact of human water management. With less water in Clear Lake this year after a meager winter, Indian Valley reservoir is releasing more to make up the difference for the thirsty farms in Yolo County. I have to thank the farms for this experience. If people hadn’t changed the water regime, this creek would be mostly dry in the summer. Makes me reflect on what it means for things to be truly ‘wild.’ But, that thought is cut short by my scanning an arundo on the shoreline.
A quick turn, paddle in deep, pulling off on the left bank. Arundo, giant reed, false bamboo, cutter of hands and eroder of streambanks. Another human artifact. Planted as an ornamental and for erosion control, escaped to the ‘wild,’ and invades ecosystems. Our hubris about “fixing” nature has broken it. Ironically, I’m here doing the same thing. Tuleyome’s been battling this weed within the Cache Creek wilderness for the past seven years, and has the infestation down to less than a handful of plants. This one escaped my detection until now. A quick herbicide spray, and we’re back on the river. Where there used to be almost 100 of these giant weeds here in the wilderness, we’ve reduced to a handful. Soon there will be none. The system is broken, though, and hidden upstream sources will continue to fertilize our shores with little plants. We’re in this for the long haul.
The native willows and cottonwoods sway in the slight breeze. Rushes and sedges line the banks, forming a ribbon of green contrasting the bright yellow of my kayak. There’s a rumble up ahead, warning of a rapid. I’ve run this so many times in the last dozen years, my reaction is automatic. Back paddle, pick my line, hit it straight, dig hard and avoid the tree branch. A great blue heron unfolds his wings and heads downstream. He’ll be our travelling companion for the rest of the trip, always staying ahead of the interlopers. Turtles on streamside rocks give us a sideways glance. Some are stacked on top of each other. King of the mountain gets the sunlight. Some slip
into the water as we get closer. They’ll emerge downstream on the next rock that is to their liking.
We pull off at Trout Creek. Even though it’s summer, there’s a steady flow coming out of the side canyon. We know the spring-fed creek will be flowing late into the summer. We also know what’s up the canyon. Scrambling up the rocks and ducking under the willows, we pick our way toward the sound of falling water. I’ve been here before, and many times. A large stream of water shoots off a rock ledge, falling vertically into a perfectly round pool. Behind the pool is a grotto. Water droplets drip from rocks onto ferns. This oasis is largely unknown, save for a few boaters that follow the bear path up the canyon. No roads, no trails. Wild.
Back on the water, the breeze picks up. We’re floating downstream, but getting pushed backward. Time for the arms to start working again. The drumming of the water gets an accompaniment with the swoosh of paddle strokes. The rhythm is broken by the crunch of branches. Mother bear and her cub run up the hillside, their bronze fur rippling with each stride. The exhilaration of seeing such a creature is replaced by the analytical mind. Bear, check. Turtles, river otter, bald eagle, osprey, green heron, blue heron, garter snake, deer … all, check.
Later, as we drag the boats up to the car, I reflect on the human infrastructure that was required to allow me to enjoy this wilderness. Cars, gas, rubbers, plastics and a sinuous serpentine asphalt ribbon. It’s paradoxical, and uniquely human. The artificial gets me closer to the natural. It’s a paradox, but also a balance. Preserving wild areas provides that balance.
— Andrew Fulks is the president of Tuleyome, a regional conservation nonprofit, and is presently the Putah Creek Riparian Reserve manager for UC Davis, managing six miles of stream and several hundred acres. His interest is in open space preservation and public access.
Tuleyome Tales: How the California delta happened
May 04, 2012 | Posted by Special to The Enterprise
By Glen Holstein
Fifteen thousand years ago, the land that became known as California had no delta and was in a very different world. Much of North America and Europe were covered by vast continental ice sheets. By then, people occupied most of the Eastern Hemisphere but few, if any, had yet reached the Americas.
Then, what is now Central California’s coastline was 26 miles west of its present location. The Farallons were then not islands but coastal headlands overlooking an open ocean dropping abruptly to great depths.
What is now the continental shelf was a vast, dry land plain bisected by an ancestral Sacramento River swollen to great volume by melting glaciers then widespread in the Sierra Nevada. It entered the Pacific south of the Farallons and flowed through the Coast Range 300 feet below present water level in deep canyons at what are now the Golden Gate and Carquinez Strait.
The climate then along the lower Sacramento was much like the present coast of southern Alaska and British Columbia, but the world was warming. The great continental ice sheets began retreating, and their melt water caused seas to rise everywhere. By 10,000 years ago, they neared the present shoreline and by 8,000 years ago had entered the Golden Gate.
People were definitely in what would become California by then, and had established villages in a broad valley just inside the outermost Coast Range ridge. Soon, however, rising seas following the ancestral Sacramento River’s channel inland completely flooded their valley and created what later arrivals would call San Francisco Bay.
Inexorably, seas pushed farther inland, flooding more valleys and creating new bays like San Pablo and Suisun until they finally stopped near the present Montezuma Hills 5,000 years ago.
There, freshwater flowing downstream from the Sierra and Cascade mountains through the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers met seawater flowing inland through the Golden Gate. They mixed some, but the freshwater mostly flowed outward some distance in a shallow lens above the heavier salt water.
That acted as a hydraulic dam to stop most river flow at the Montezuma Hills and cause freshwater to back up and flood a vast area in the lowest part of the Central Valley.
This flooding starting just 5,000 years ago created California’s Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Because sea level rise was gradual, the flooded area always remained very shallow beyond the deeper river channels and became covered by tall marsh plants called tules.
Seas still slowly rose, though, and freshwater in the flooded delta area also rose just slowly enough for each new tule generation to grow on the last’s flooded remains. Eventually, the latest tule generation grew on many feet of ancestral organic remains, which became the delta’s famous peat soil.
A similar process in the same time period north of East Anglia created England’s famous Fenlands and provided the term “fen” for similar wetlands around the world. Consequently the delta is California’s largest fen and one of the largest in the world. What happened to it next is another tale.
— Glen Holstein received his Ph.D. in botany from UC Davis and is a senior scientist with Zentner and Zentner, a local biological consulting company. He is a member of the board of Tuleyome, a nonprofit organization working to protect the wild and agricultural heritage of California’s Inner Coast Range and Western Sacramento Valley.
By Stephen Daubert
The Blue Ridge forms the western boundary of the Sacramento Valley.
Its crest rises out of the ground southwest of Vacaville and continues
north for 50 miles. The crest trail reaches above the 3,000-foot level
beside notches cut into the wall by rivers older than the ridge itself,
by Putah and Cache creeks.
The panorama to the west from the trail looks down a steep cliffside,
then out across the ridges of the Inner Coastal Mountain Range that
recede off toward the Pacific shore 50 miles away.
The view to the opposite direction looks down a more gradual slope,
upon a completely different landscape. Off to the east lies one of the
flattest places on Earth — the Sacramento Valley. Fifty miles across
that bottomland, the snowy Sierra begins to rise up to its own
The differences between the two sides of Blue Ridge extend to the
weather. The ridge forms a weather divide. On a brisk morning, with the
reminder of the last night’s delta breeze still fresh in the air, the
contrasts between the opposite sides of the ridge are striking.
On the sunny side, the light slants up the slope from the east
through another calm, hazy valley day. But on the other side, the world
is transformed — submerged by a flood of fog that spreads all the way
over the western horizon. Only the tallest hilltops reach up through
that sea of gray, with the slopes of distant Mount Tamalpias most
prominent among them.
You can see the weather divide that follows Blue Ridge even on
cloudless, fair weather days, by looking at the plants. One of the most
reliable barometers of the local climate is an air plant — lace lichen.
It lives suspended in the branches, with no root system to supply water
and nutrients to the pale, gray-green foliage. It meets its needs
through what it can harvest from the sky.
The flattened, finely divided foliage provides these lichens with the
greatest surface-to-volume ratio of any plant. No cell in this lacy
meshwork is more than a fraction of a millimeter from thin air. Its
filaments hang limp and dusty gray when dry, like silk curtains
billowing in the breeze. But they respond to the humidity on a windy
evening, stiffening to spread their net and catch what the wind carries.
The sea breeze brings a microcosmic sample of lands far away across
the sea — specks of dust levitated by sandstorms in the Gobi Desert,
volcanic aerosols injected into the jet stream above Indonesia,
invisible smoke particles that rose on plumes of African grass fires,
salt crystals that are all that remain of evaporated droplets of sea
spray. The transoceanic journey of these fine particles ends in the
finely divided foliage of the lichen.
The gray-green webwork becalms the air within it. Motes from the far
corners of the Earth wander into the living lattice and settle out on
the strands. Eventually, those particles dissolve in place in the
predawn dew. They color a tea that coats the finely divided surface with
a solution of phosphates, potash — minerals that most plants search for
with roots in the soil, but this plant finds in the air.
Lacy lichens grow fast, extending their length by a third again every
year. Often they do not reproduce by making spores, but spread from
tree to tree as fragments. And just as other plants rely upon their
flying allies to disseminate their pollen or seed on the wing, this
plant also enlists the assistance of animals to spread its population.
Lacy lichen’s dispersal partners are hummingbirds. These birds build a
nest from filaments of lace, so that it will be expandable, to
accommodate the growth of the hatchlings. As the chicks mature, their
respiration hydrates the strands of lichen next to their bodies. The dry
filaments come to life, just as they do on a dewy dawn, when they
absorb water vapor from the nestlings. The nest dilates with the press
of the growing hummers; it may increase in diameter almost twofold as
the chicks fluff up.
Other weaverbirds also transport lichen strands for nest building:
orioles, bush tits, blue-gray gnatcatchers. The nests hang vacant
through the dog days of summer, sagging and drying out after they have
accomplished their first task: fledging the next generation of birds.
With fall, the lace in those nests reawakens, absorbing the season’s
moisture and beginning to grow again. It trails into the open air
spaces, expanding all the way down to the browse line, where the deer
trim the longest streamers. The distribution of these waving fronds maps
the course through which the sea breeze spills farthest inland
overnight through the maze of valleys in the mountains.
— Stephen Daubert is a nature writer living in Davis. He is the
author of “The Shark and the Jellyfish” and “Threads from the Web of
Life.” Tuleyome is a conservation organization based in Woodland working
to protect our wild heritage and our agricultural heritage in the
Northern Inner Coast Range and Western Sacramento Valley.
View Tuleyome Newsletter
By: Jonathon Feinberg and Katie Moore
Prepared by Tuleyome © 2010
Berryessa Snow Mountain Region Species Guide
This guide was produced by Tuleyome with help from Chad Roberts, Ph.D., Glen Holstein, Ph.D., Ellen Dean, Ph.D. Arthur Shapiro, Ph.D., and The Defenders of Wildlife.
Read the full article here.
The American Barn Swallow: A Summer Guest
By Debra Chase
Once caught by the thousands to be used in women's hats, eating insects literally on the fly, and returning year after year to the same nesting sites, the American Barn Swallow is one of hte harbingers of summer. A beautiful low-flying bird, I always look forward to the spring nesting ritual and the summer babies emerging from the nest.
The Barn Swallw is also the species the slaughter of which aroused in the mind of George Bird Grinell such indignation that he wrote a vigorous article in 1886 on the incredible waste of bird life for millinery. That of course soon led to the founding of the first Audubon Society.
Read the full article here.
Tuleyome Tales Volume 1
2003 through 2007
- Grazing Yellow Starthistle
Pelayo Alvarez (Dec, 2007)
- Plant Explorations In Yolo And Colusa Counties
Ellen Dean (Oct, 2007)
- Rattlesnakes Beware
Barbara Clucas (Sept, 2007)
- Saving Biodiversity Begins at Home
Glen Holstein (Aug, 2007)
- The Unobservant Observer
John Mott-Smith (Jul, 2007)
- Bats: Little Noticed But Vital
Mary Jean "Corky" Quirk (Jun, 2007)
- Drought Is Not A Dirty Word To Declining Butterflies In Yolo!
Arthur Shapiro (Apr, 2007)
- Getting the Picture
Ian Markham (Mar, 2007)
- Ravenna Grass: A Major Wildland Weed Along Cache Creek
Craig Thomsen (Feb, 2007)
- Our Secretive Neighbor
Dave Chase (Jan, 2007)
- Cache Creek Wilderness
Jim Eaton (Jan, 2007)
- Finding our Sense of Place in Yolo County
John Mott-Smith (Dec, 2006)
- Ireland Ranch: A Legacy of Conservation
Andrew Fulks (Sept, 2006)
- Cows Return to Bear Creek
Jim Eaton (Aug, 2006)
- Farmers and Conservationists on the Land
Bob Schneider (Nov, 2005)
- Enjoy a Colorful Fall in the Putah-Cache Watersheds
Andrew Fulks (Oct, 2005)
- The Exercise of Public Authority to Achieve Conservation Ends
Chad Roberts (Sep, 2005)
- Conservationism vs Environmentalism in the Central Valley
Chad Roberts (Jun, 2005)
- Wildflowers of Cache Creek
Glen Holstein (Apr, 2005)
- Cache Creek Tule Elk
California Department of Fish and Game (Jan, 2005)
- The First People of Cache Creek
Robert Thayer (2005)
- Where Did the Name Tuleyome Originate?
Robert Thayer (2005)
- Knoxville Wildlife Area Potential Wilderness?
Jim Eaton (2005)
- Glascock Mountain
Andrew Fulks (2005)
- Land Stewardship and the Bear Creek Watershed
Craig Thomsen (2005)
- Vortex of Change
Bob Schneider (2005)
- The Dragonflies of Bear Creek
Jim Eaton (2005)
- Habitat and Agriculture in Yolo County
Chad Roberts (2005)
- What's So Special about Cache Creek?
Jim Eaton (2005)
- Hiking the Putah-Cache Bioregion
Andrew Fulks (2005)
- Why Agriculture in Yolo County?
- Bob Schneider (Dec, 2004)
- Some Historical Background on Cache Creek
Dave Pratt (Oct, 2004)
- Celebrating Forty Years of Wilderness
Jim Eaton (Sep 2004)
- The Working Yolo Landscape
Bob Schneider & Chad Roberts (Aug, 2004)
- Cache Creek, a State Wild, Scenic and Recreational River?
Bob Schneider (May, 2004)
- Giant Garter Snake Visits Vic Fazio Wildlife Refuge
Dave Feliz (Apr, 2004)
- On the Geology of Cache Creek
Eldridge Moores (Sep, 2003)
- The Path of the Cougar
Ed West (Aug, 2003)
- Which Way to the Wilderness?
Jim Eaton (July, 2003)
- The Native Fishes of Cache Creek
Peter Moyle (June, 2003)
- Paddling Cache Creek
Robert Thayer and Andrew Fulks (May, 2003)
- Bald Eagles Overhead
Mary Schiedt (Mar, 2003)
Tuleyome Tales Volume 2
2008 to Present