RCA Newsletter

October 2019

Kollar Donation Preserves Vital Land and Natural Treasures

The Western Riverside County Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan (MSHCP) encompasses hundreds of thousands of acres in Western Riverside County. Nearly 5,000 acres of this land is conserved as a result of generous land donations from residents who passionately support the conservation efforts of the Reginal Conservation Authority (RCA), which manages the MSHCP.

On October 7th, RCA acquired the Kollar Donation property, comprised of 17.93 acres located in the unincorporated area of Tenaja near the Santa Rosa Plateau. The property was donated by Judy Kollar.

“In 1993, my family discovered the natural treasures of the Santa Rosa Plateau – its native oaks and bunch grasses, wildflowers and wild animals,” Kollar stated. “With much gratitude for RCA’s ability to preserve and protect these treasures, we feel a deep satisfaction in donating our property in memory of my mother, Muriel Louise Montonna Kollar, whose generosity and love of nature have made the donation possible.”

The Kollar Donation property is a mix of chaparral habitat dominated by scrub oak, white sage, and oak savanna, including an abundance of native grasses and numerous adult Engelmann oak trees. Species that can be found in this area include the California red-legged frog, Cooper’s Hawk, grasshopper sparrow, bobcat and mountain lion.

The RCA is very grateful for the generous donation of the Kollar property. It is a very valuable addition to our reserve system and will play an important part in preserving our natural habitat for future generations. Thank you Judy Kollar!

 

A Sight Worth Seeing in the Temecula Valley

Western Riverside County is loaded with photogenic locales, but few compare to the picturesque landscape of the French Valley Wildlife Area in the beautiful Temecula Valley. Open to the public, the French Valley Wildlife Area is part of the 500,000-acre Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan (MSHCP) monitored by the Western Riverside County Regional Conservation Authority (RCA).

The French Valley Wildlife Area offers visitors the opportunity for a light hike through a stunning mix of costal sage scrub, grasslands, and woodlands spread across more than 700 acres of rolling hills. Birdwatching is perfect on the designated trails where you can find winged wonders such as the Northern harrier (Circus cyaneus) and the Burrowing owl (Atheno cunicularia), two of the 146 species protected by the MSHCP.

The area’s name harkens back to the late 1800’s when French grain farmers and sheepherders called it home after the Franco-Prussian War. Known for dry-land farming agricultural lands, the area remains home to old barns and the historic Alamos Schoolhouse, which served the community of French Valley in the early 1900’s.
The French Valley Wildlife Area is open to the public daily from sunrise to sunset. For more information, call the California Department of Fish and Wildlife at (760) 200-9370 or the Inland Deserts Region Bishop office at (760) 872-1171.

 

The Great Blue Heron Stands Tall

Western Riverside County Regional Conservation Authority’s (RCA) Species of the Month is the proud standing great blue heron. This majestic specimen is the largest bird within the heron family and one of the 146 species protected by the Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan (MSHCP) managed by the RCA.

To help safeguard these beautiful birds, 100-meter buffers surrounding breeding colonies is to occur on RCA reserve lands. Additionally, RCA monitors the distribution of the great blue heron to help maintain their presence throughout the reserve.

The great blue heron lives up to its name, weighing in at approximately 5 pounds and with a wingspan stretching up to 6 feet. Their length can be as much as 54 inches.

This tall bird typically feeds on small fish and insects. However, they will prey on anything that is available to them. Since these herons are large, they can feed in deeper waters and can swallow their food whole.

The great blue heron not only lives in the United States, but also can be found in Canada. They migrate in winter, traveling south towards, Florida, Mexico, the Caribbean and South America. The great blue heron easily adapts and nests in wetlands, marshes, swamps, meadows and around lakes.

 

Assembly member Cervantes Secures $15 Million State Grant Supporting RCA’s Habitat Preservation Efforts

The Western Riverside County Regional Conservation Authority (RCA) has taken another significant step toward preserving native landscapes and wildlife with the acceptance of a new $15 million state grant secured by state Assemblymember Sabrina Cervantes.
The funding from the State Natural Resources Agency will help the RCA acquire additional habitat land in the Jurupa Mountain area of Riverside County to create new recreational opportunities while also helping protect endangered, threatened and native species such as the Turkey vultures, Bell’s sage sparrow, San Bernardino kangaroo rat and coastal California gnatcatcher.

“The preservation of Jurupa Mountain is a necessary step towards our environmental efforts to protect our region’s natural habitats, species, and providing our community with adequate open spaces for future generations to enjoy. I am proud to work with the Western Riverside County Regional Conservation Authority and look forward to the benefits this grant will provide our region,” said Assemblymember Cervantes.

The RCA oversees the Western Riverside County Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan (MSHCP), the largest habitat conservation plan in the nation. So far, more than 81% of the land needed for the 500,000-acre MSHCP has already been acquired to protect 146 native plant and animal species, including 33 endangered and threatened species.

“Over 400,000 acres of the MSHCP’s conservation land has already been secured and we are actively engaged in acquiring new properties to complete the Plan,” said RCA Executive Director Charlie Landry. “The continued support of local legislators like Assemblymember Cervantes is critical to achieving our goal of preserving the natural beauty of Western Riverside County for future generations while providing long-term protection to native plants and animals.”

Jurupa Valley City Councilwoman Lorena Barajas, the city’s representative on the RCA Board of Directors, agreed, saying “Our city and our constituents really support conservation and want to maintain the beautiful rural atmosphere and abundant recreational opportunities of our community. This grant is a huge step in that direction.”

This grant marks the latest effort by area legislators to support the RCA’s efforts to complete the MSHCP. Earlier this year, Congressman Ken Calvert (CA-42) introduced H.R. 2956 to establish the Western Riverside County Wildlife Refuge. The bill cosponsored by Rep. Mark Takano (CA-41) and Rep. Pete Aguilar (CA-31) will allow the region to continue its ongoing commitment towards balancing natural resource conservation and future development.

 

September 2019

Turkey Vulture on a branch

This Vital Vulture is No Turkey

RCA’s September species of the month is the formidable but misunderstood turkey vulture. This broad-winged bird is not related to our thanksgiving turkey but is one of 146 species protected by Western Riverside County Regional Conservation Authority’s (RCA) Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan (MSHCP).

The turkey vulture, also known as Cathartes aura, earned its name from their red head and dark plumage sharing a striking similarity to the wild turkey. Many can have a wingspan as long as 6 feet, giving them the ability to soar high into the air. Their heads are usually uncovered by feathers giving them the freedom to dive face-first into their food, stay clean, and protected from infection.

Vultures serve a vital role in the ecosystem as they feed almost exclusively on carrion (decaying animal flesh). Carrion can often spread disease. Vultures were once persecuted because people believed that they spread disease, but they actually are a major factor in preventing sickness and parasites by eliminating carrion. Unlike most other birds, they rely on their keen sense of smell to help locate their food.

While turkey vultures can be regularly seen foraging and/or roosting, they nest far from human development. Nests can be difficult to locate since vultures tend to fly very high in untraceable areas.

There are two known nesting sites within the MSHCP that are monitored. RCA currently conserves and maintains open habitat for vulture foraging within the MSHCP conservation area.

 

Interstate 215/Scott Road Interchange

RCA Helps Pave the Way for the New Interstate 215/Scott Road Interchange

Thanks to the Western Riverside County Regional Conservation Authority’s (RCA) blanket environmental permit, the City of Menifee and its commuters will welcome the new 215 Interstate/Scott Road Interchange in the coming weeks.

The environmental permits held by RCA, Riverside County Transportation Commission, and Caltrans helped accelerate construction of this project. Those permits have also streamlined the development of more than $5 billion in freeway and road projects across Western Riverside County, saving taxpayers over $500 million while helping eliminate countless hours of potential gridlock for commuters.

The 215 Interstate/Scott Road Interchange project began in September 2018 and now the project is 55% complete. The first portion of the project was set to open for public use beginning this week. This will include an on-ramp to the I-215 North and a southbound off-ramp connecting to Scott Road. The project is on track to be fully completed by September 2020.

The much-needed improvements for the I-215/Scott Road Interchange is due in part to the RCA’s Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan (MSHCP), the only conservation plan in the nation created with the express purpose of ensuring that local governments can expedite the construction of infrastructure. More than 32 major freeway and road improvements have been expedited, saving taxpayers millions of dollars.

The finished project will feature a six-lane Scott Road bridge, a wider Scott Road between Antelope Road and Haun Road, bicycle lanes, and two and half miles of transitional lanes and ramps. The 215 Interstate/Scott Road Interchange project is helping to fulfill the MSHCP’s goal of supporting growth by helping to alleviate traffic in a growing Menifee.

Hidden Valley Nature Center

Discover a Hidden Valley in Western Riverside County

Among the many hidden treasures across Western Riverside County is the appropriately named Hidden Valley Nature Center, overlooking the Santa Ana River, near the City of Norco. Open to the public, the Hidden Valley Wildlife area is part of the 500,000-acre Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan (MSHCP)monitored by the Western Riverside County Regional Conservation Authority (RCA).

The Hidden Valley Nature Center offers visitors hands-on experiences with live reptiles and other animals native to its natural habitat. Located on 1,500 acres, the center provides visitors with access to 25 miles of hiking and equestrian trails where you can find animals such as the Yellow-breasted Chat and White-faced Ibis, two critters that are part of the 146 species protected by the MSHCP. There are also various activities for children to enjoy including hands-on geology expeditions and insect safari programs.

The area is primarily classified as a riparian ecosystem – an area heavily influenced by water such as a stream or lake. These conditions lead to more unique vegetation and a diverse range of species. It is estimated that riparian ecosystems are found in only 1% of the land area in the western United States, making these areas even more precious.

The Hidden Valley Wildlife Area is open to the public on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., while appointments and scheduled tours are available Tuesday through Friday. If you’d like to learn more, please visit their webpage: https://www.rivcoparks.org/hidden-valley-nature-center/.

August 2019

Southwestern Pond Turtle

Shell-tering the Southwestern Pond Turtle

RCA’s August species of the month is the small, but mighty southwestern pond turtle. This slow-moving creature is the only native freshwater turtle in Southern California and is one of 146 species protected by Western Riverside County Regional Conservation Authority’s (RCA) Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan (MSHCP).

To help protect the southwestern pond turtle, RCA conducts radio telemetry studies that track individual turtle movements through conserved habitats in Western Riverside County. The information collected from these studies helps RCA prioritize habitat conservation efforts that allow this amphibious reptile to thrive in our region.

Ranging from Baja California all the way up to Washington, the southwestern pond turtle has adapted to dry environments by lying dormant under vegetation and in mud during hot periods.

Like many amphibious reptiles, this species eats an omnivorous diet, including plants, insects, tadpoles, and even fish.

While southwestern pond turtles can be found basking in the sun, they also spend time both in and out of the water. In fact, it can spend over 200 days out of water. On land, you can find this turtle searching for new mates, nesting, or traveling to nearby bodies of water. Their nests have been found over 300 feet from the closest water source.

By protecting this species of concern, the RCA is helping minimize their loss of habitat and exposure to invasive species.

 

Man Riding ATV

Not All Trails Can Be Treaded

Riding Off-Highway Vehicles (OHV’s) is a very popular pastime for many Riverside County residents. While there are numerous places to legally ride OHVs in Southern California, the conservation lands managed by the Western Riverside County Regional Conservation Authority (RCA) are off limits, and for good reason.

Habitats protected by the RCA are often fragile ecosystems. Any disturbance from OHV’s can have damaging or fatal consequences for the native plants and animals that call these open spaces home.  Noise, compaction, and trampling all have the potential to jeopardize the future of some species — permanently.

The RCA asks OHV riders to join us in protecting the environment by using trails that have been designated for OHV riding, and to obey all signs showing areas where OHVs are not allowed.

To help out, the California State Parks has developed a handy guide for OHV enthusiasts that identifies numerous OHV accessible areas throughout California, along with safety tips and other useful information to make motorized off-highway adventures fun and safe – for riders and for plants and animals.

Click the link here to learn more: http://ohv.parks.ca.gov/pages/1140/files/ca-ohmvr_adventuremap_final.pdf

Picture of conserved lands

Director’s Corner: Balance for the Future

At the Western Riverside County Regional Conservation Authority, our mission is to create balance for the future by assembling the 500,000-acre Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan (MSHCP), the largest conservation plan in the country.

To date, we are nearly 82% of the way to achieving our goal, with more than 408,000 acres conserved.

By assembling and managing these conservation lands, the RCA helps protect 146 plant and animal species, including 33 native species that are threatened or face extinction.

With these critical habitats protected, the MSHCP in turn has already given the green light to more than $5 billion in major freeway and road improvements that have improved traffic conditions along the 91 Freeway, Interstate 15, Interstate 215, Highway 79, and the Ramona Expressway.

The MSHCP has also kept Riverside County’s economy on the move, creating more than 71,000 jobs and opportunities for new business development and commerce that has strengthened our local economy.

The RCA in overseen by a board of directors represented by the Riverside County Board of Supervisors and our 18 member cities. Working together, we continue to enhance the quality of life in our region by protecting our natural heritage, supporting a vibrant economy and improving transportation.

-Charlie Landry, Executive Director

 

July 2019

A Thousand Acres of Preserved Lands

RCA has conserved parcels of land all throughout Western Riverside County, but the Warm Springs Acquisition makes up one of the largest spaces of protected land in the conservation plan. Located north of Murrieta and Temecula, this space includes rare plants and valuable habitats.

Warm Springs makes up over 1,000 acres, assembled from 14 acquisitions throughout Murrieta, Sun City, and Menifee Valley. This area includes large patches of undisturbed coastal sage scrub, chaparral, and riparian habitats. Additionally, this area is home to a variety of rare plants, such as the long-spined spineflower, Munz’s onion, and Palmer’s grapplinghook.

The species found in this area have important value to the Western Riverside County Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan (MSHCP), which is overseen by the RCA. This area provides thriving habitat that shelters species such as coastal California gnatcatcher, Los Angeles pocket mouse, bobcat, Bell’s sage sparrow, California horned lark, grasshopper sparrow, southern California rufous-crowned sparrow, and the western pond turtle.

Land acquisitions like Warm Springs help RCA achieve its mission to establish a 500,000-acre habitat reserve to protect, restore, and enhance habitats for the conservation of 146 species while expediting construction of needed infrastructure, particularly transportation, and providing certainty in the development process.

 

Be Fire Safe This Summer While Exploring the Trails

Summer is here, which means it’s time to grab the family and explore everything Western Riverside County has to offer, including visiting our habitat reserves. But with the ongoing threat of wildfires, fire safety is at the forefront of every ranger’s mind this fire season.

RCA needs your help preventing destruction and wildfires on RCA protected trails that could cause critical damage and decimate the habitat that our local wildlife call home. To help you enjoy your summer outdoor adventure, here are some tips on how to safely enjoy the outdoors this fire season:

  • Conditions Check: Check trail, road and weather conditions before heading out and make sure you know your route to get back safely.
  • Pack a Backpack: During the summer, temperatures can reach over 110 degrees throughout most of Southern California and trails can offer little or no shade. Make sure you pack your cellphone, a hat, sunblock, and plenty of water to stay hydrated.
  • Nearby Fire: If there is a fire in the area, it’s smart to hold off on your hike until another weekend because even smoke from fires further away can make air quality very poor and make your hike miserable, not to mention it’s bad for your health.
  • Tell Someone: Always tell one or two people what trails you are taking before leaving in case of an emergency, so authorities can locate you quickly, if needed.
  • Wild for a Reason: When out in wilderness areas, please stay on the trail, do not touch or approach wildlife, and watch where you’re walking to prevent harming one of the many small species that lives in the habitat.

 

Look No Feather than the Ferruginous Hawk

The powerful ferruginous hawk, RCA’s July species of the month, is among the 146 species native to our region under the watchful eyes of the Western Riverside County Regional Conservation Authority (RCA) through its management of the Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan.

This hawk is one of the largest in all North America with a wingspan of up to five feet. The difference in size between males and females can be quite large, as females can be up to two times the size of their male counterparts.

This species’ habitat and breeding ground is currently threatened by various human activities, including the development of wind energy farms. Though the ferruginous hawk does not breed in the area protected by the Western Riverside County Regional Conservation Authority’s (RCA) Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan, RCA’s goal is to maintain and protect the bird’s winter foraging habitat that does fall within the plan area.

The rust-colored hawk mates for life and nests in treetops, on steep ridges, cliffs, and even utility structures. The ferruginous hawk has soared above the plains of the Western United States since before the American bison went extinct. In fact, the ferruginous hawk nested in the bones of bison and made their nests out of bison wool and dung.

The ferruginous hawk is a magnificent creature that must be monitored and protected. Though the ferruginous hawk’s population has been declining throughout Canada and most of the United States, population levels have actually increased in California since the 1980’s. RCA will continue to protect this beautiful bird so that it will continue to soar.

 

June 2019

A Red Diamond in the Rough

Beautiful but misunderstood, the Northern Red Diamond Rattlesnake is among the 146 species native to our region under the watchful eyes of the Western Riverside County Regional Conservation Authority (RCA) through its management of the Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan.

Our June Species of the Month, the Red Diamond Rattlesnake sports a unique, rusty red color and can grow to over four feet in length. These snakes call the chaparral, sage scrub, and grasslands home. Though these venomous red rattlers may seem intimidating, they are not aggressive and will not usually bite unless provoked.

The Red Diamond Rattlesnake plays a vital role in Western Riverside County’s ecosystem by keeping rodent populations in check, including those carrying diseases, to the benefit of humans. Despite their vital role in maintaining public health, the survival of these crimson critters remains under threat from humans.

Red Diamond Rattlesnake populations started declining, landing them on the Species of Special Concern list at the state level. The primary threats include the loss of native habitat and negative interactions with humans, from being hit by cars to being intentionally killed by people who see them as a nuisance or a threat.

By protecting the Red Diamond Rattler’s natural habitats, the RCA is helping stave off further population losses for this efficient and specialized predator.

 

 

Photo taken by Jonathan Reinig

Protect Yourself and Wild Snakes This Summer

Summer is finally here and is the ideal time to start spending time outdoors enjoying our wonderful Western Riverside County landscapes. But with the rising temperatures, cold-blooded creatures such as snakes start wandering onto one of the many trails within the lands RCA protects, creating the potential for interaction with people. Here are six tips that can help keep both you and our reptilian pals safe:

  • Stay on the trail.
  • Stay away from bushes and scrub, where snakes often reside to avoid being detected.
  • If you see a snake, back away slowly. Snakes only react if they feel harassed.
  • Watch where you’re walking! Snakes blend in with their environment and it is possible to overlook them. Be careful to not step on a hidden snake because it will likely strike if you do.
  • Avoid picking up rocks and logs and looking into holes in the ground as doing so could alarm a snake.
  • If you see a snake laying in the middle of a trail, steer clear, even if you believe that it is dead. Certain species of snakes are rare and should be left alone.

 

 

Federal Bill Aims to Extend Land Preserved by RCA

New federal legislation introduced in late May by Congressman Ken Calvert (CA-42) seeks to establish the Western Riverside County Federal Wildlife Refuge, which will assist the Western Riverside County Regional Conservation Authority (RCA) in fulfilling its mission to assemble the largest conservation plan in the nation.

Enacted in 2004, the Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan (MSHCP), which is overseen by the RCA, balances conservation in Western Riverside County with new growth and much needed infrastructure like new roads.

With Rep. Mark Takano (CA-41) and Rep. Pete Aguilar (CA-31) as original cosponsors, H.R. 2956 will help make funds available to purchase the remaining 92,000 acres needed to complete the 500,000-acre MSHCP reserve. The plan protects 146 species of plant and animal, including 33 that are threatened or endangered, while also streamlining the environmental approval process for future development by establishing where new roads, homes, businesses and infrastructure projects should be built.

Riverside is one of the fastest growing counties in the nation and the Western Riverside MSHCP helps ensure sustainable growth while making sure local residents are still able to enjoy our natural world.

From the Los Angeles Pocket Mouse to the Quino checkerspot butterfly, this bill would have a lasting impact on protecting the natural heritage of Western Riverside County by helping to preserve our unique wildlife and plant species while facilitating the development of new roads and critical transportation infrastructure necessary for our region’s future.

 

 

 

May 2019

RCA Gives a Hoot

Quirky and cute, the tiny burrowing owl is one of the 146 species being protected by the Regional Conservation Agency (RCA) in Western Riverside County through its oversight of the Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan.

The RCA and its partners work to help support burrowing owl populations by installing artificial burrows, managing grasslands and monitoring this tiny bird, whose numbers had shrunk locally due to the loss of open grassland habitat to development.

Classified by the State of California as a species of special concern, the 8-inch burrowing owl spends most of its time on the ground, hunting insects and rodents. It nests in underground burrows left by other animals such as ground squirrels. Breeding populations will nest together, often in the same spot every year.

Monitoring and management by the RCA to protect sensitive habitat areas have helped the yellow-eyed burrowing owls survive, and ongoing work will help increase their numbers.

 

Protecting a Bright, Beautiful Bloom

RCA’s May Species of the Month is the rare and endangered Lemon Lily, a bright and beautiful bloom that is among the 146 plant and animal species protected by the Western Riverside County Regional Conservation Authority (RCA).

The Lemon Lily, or Lilium parryi, is a gorgeous and fragrant flower native to Idyllwild. It is one of 11 species of lilies in California and can be found in the San Bernardino, San Gabriel, San Jacinto, and Palomar mountains.

Recreation, flooding, and loss of old growth forests are threats to the Lemon Lily. The Western Riverside County Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan (MSHCP) managed by the RCA in collaboration with U.S. Forest Service are working to set aside conservation areas above 1,300 feet in the San Jacinto Mountains where this dazzling flower can thrive.

The Lemon Lily is trumpet shaped with six petals and gets its name from — you guessed it — its bright yellow lemon color. They grow in moist areas in mountain habitats typically near shady stream banks and can reach up to six feet tall!

On June 23, the Idyllwild Nature Center will host its 9th annual Lemon Lily Restoration Day to celebrate this stunning flower with children’s arts and crafts, live music, face painting, and guest speakers.

The RCA is committed to the preservation of the Lemon Lily and cares for all species, from lily little to bobcat big.

 

Leave Only Footprints Behind

With summer fast approaching, more and more western Riverside County residents will be grabbing their hiking boots and hitting the trails. As the agency responsible for helping protect our natural lands, the Western Riverside County Regional Conservation Authority encourages residents to remember these four easy tips for treating the trails with respect.

  1. Pack It In, Pack It Out: While enjoying western Riverside County’s natural beauty, it is important to keep other hikers and critters in mind. After finishing a much-deserved trail snack, take a quick look around and make sure you left no trace to protect conservation areas from litter. You wouldn’t want someone else’s trash to ruin your Instagram-worthy shot, so do the same for others.
  2. Stay on the Trail: While it may be tempting to let your adventurous spirit lead you off the beaten path, this can be extremely damaging to the native flora and fauna. Trails are specifically created to withstand a good trampling, but the same cannot be said for sensitive habitats on the trail’s edge. Help protect these areas by staying on the trails.
  3. Doggy Bag It: Dogs are allowed on some trails, but not others. If the trail is open to pooches, please make sure to pick up dog waste, for the sake of the habitat and other hiker’s boots. Bacteria in dog waste is harmful to the natural environment.
  4. Respect the Signs: If you arrive at a trailhead to find it temporarily closed, it is always for good reason. Sometimes bad weather, accidents, or sensitive wildlife can make a trail inaccessible. If you choose not to respect the signs you may be putting yourself and our rare and protected plants and animals at risk.

April 2019

California Poppy

The Super Bloom Swoon

Spring is in full bloom in western Riverside County! Heavy rains gave rise to a Super Bloom as hundreds of thousands of stunning wildflowers line hillsides across our beautiful open spaces and the protected habitat lands managed by the Western Riverside County Regional Conservation Authority (RCA).

RCA partnered with Riverside County and the City of Lake Elsinore to help protect this gorgeous scenery, as well as surrounding conservation lands that are home to native plant and animal species, many of which are threatened or endangered. The effort is an extension of the work RCA already does every day as we manage the largest habitat conservation plan in the nation to preserve western Riverside County’s natural heritage and beauty for future generations.

Nowhere has the Super Bloom been more visible than the public and private lands around Walker Canyon in Lake Elsinore, drawing visitors from near and far. An unseen and amazing facet of the Super Bloom is that the seeds of these brilliant flowers, mostly California poppies and purple lupine, lie dormant for years until heavy rainfalls trigger them to sprout and bloom.

 

Bob Cat

Have You Seen This Bobtailed Cat?

RCA’s species of the month for April is the wonderfully unique and graceful bobcat. A Southern California native, the bobcat got its name, you got it, from its tail that looks like it has been bobbed. This species is roughly twice the size of a house cat and has tufts on the ends of its ears. It is a nocturnal animal that can be seen during nighttime hours, but also during dawn and dusk hours.

Although this species is not endangered or threatened, it plays a crucial role in the health of the lands protected by the Western Riverside County Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan (MSHCP) and managed by the Regional Conservation Authority (RCA). Part of this cat’s diet consists of ground squirrels, gophers, rabbits, opossums and raccoon, which if left unchecked, can have a devastating impact on vegetation and threatened and endangered animals.

This beautiful cat is found throughout the MSHCP boundary in a wide range of habitats, including annual grassland, sage scrub, riparian, and chaparral. Bobcats are solitary and have large territories with mating occurring in late winter through spring.  In order for the bobcat to perform its role in the ecosystem, RCA reserve lands, as well as other protected lands, need to allow for connectivity between large habitat blocks so that bobcats can find mates and can find enough food throughout the year.

 

Earth from Space

Every Day is Earth Day with RCA

The first Earth Day was celebrated April 22, 1970 with millions of people across the country lining the streets to encourage environmental protection of our natural resources. Since then Earth Day has grown to become the largest secular holiday in the world and is celebrated in over 190 countries.

The heart of Earth Day is to spread awareness, change policies, and encourage individual action. For 2019, Earth Day’s theme is “Protect Our Species” with a focus on protecting endangered and threatened animals and plants. Nowhere is that more important than in the lands managed by the Western Riverside County Regional Conservation Authority (RCA), which are home to a high plant and animal species diversity, including some that threatened or endangered.

RCA manages the largest habitat conservation plan in the nation, the 1.2 million-acre Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan. This plan protects crucial habitats for 146 species, including 33 threatened or endangered species such as the southwestern willow flycatcher, least Bell’s vireo, San Bernardino kangaroo rat, vernal pool fairy shrimp, arroyo toad, and many more.

There are a variety of ways to celebrate Earth Day, but whether you join a march, sign a petition, plant a tree, join your local environmental club, attend an event, or help clean your town, know that RCA celebrates Earth Day 365 days a year by protecting western Riverside County’s native plants and animals.