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Newsletter- Summer 2022

Featured Trail- Bobcat Pass

by Dona Schilling, PVP Trails Manager

This issue’s “Trail Spotlight” focuses on the Bobcat Pass Trail located on the north side of the Kern River. This trail is one of my top 3 favorites (I know, I say this about all of our trails!). Famous for its teeming wildlife and beautiful scenery, it is a very popular destination for photo opportunities. This is a 2 mile trail that runs along the Kern River from the Panorama Vista Preserve’s parking lot on the west end all the way to the weir at the east end.

There is much to see along this trail beginning with abundant wildlife. Over the years sightings have been plentiful and include ducks, geese, coyote, bobcat, egret, blue heron, bald eagles, turtles, rabbits, raccoon, beaver and hawks just to name a few.

If you are inclined to take a short deviation from Bobcat Pass, you will find that Pasha’s Trail parallels Bobcat Pass. Watch for the trail marker to Pasha’s trail and turn right to get down closer to the river; turn left to ride Pasha’s trail to the end where it will turn left taking you up the trail back to Bobcat Pass. Once you reach the top, turn right and continue on Bobcat Pass. If you decide not to try the detour, be sure to look across the river where Pasha’s trail starts where you will have a perfect view of one of the most popular places to cross the river on horseback. It is a very popular place for photographers as well! Be careful – the crossing can be deep at times so if you decide to cross make sure it is safe first!

Once you are back on Bobcat Pass Trail continue east. This trail has a few ups and downs and a few blind curves, making it a bit more challenging. There are many great photo opportunities along the way for our camera enthusiasts!

As I mentioned earlier, Bobcat Pass has been the source of many Bobcat sightings for years. Near the east end of this trail I encountered my most memorable sighting. My small group was riding on the single track trail from the weir heading west. The sun was shining brightly overhead. The trees provided much shade in the area between the Kern River and the trail but in a few places the sun broke between the leaves creating a bright area in the middle of all the foliage. On this day I observed a big log off the trail about 15 yards away which was illuminated by the sun’s rays. I didn’t think very much about it at that moment but my eye suddenly caught movement in the protected area. Upon closer observation I witnessed a female bobcat laying on the log. It was absolutely stunning, but there was more! At the base of the log were 3 baby bobcats running and jumping in determined play mode! Their mother was not overly concerned about us as we quietly passed by, however her eyes never left us while she made sure her kids didn’t stray from her and her log. This image has been forever ingrained in my mind and I feel truly blessed to have observed it (not to ignore the blessing of not being eaten!)

Bobcats are still seen from Bobcat Pass Trail and just a few weeks ago my friend and I were riding this trail traveling west when we happened to come upon a lone bobcat kitten playing with leaves and sticks just a few yards off the trail! We did not see mama, but I guarantee she had a bead on us until we were well away from there! We have also come upon numerous coyote and just 2 weeks ago we saw a turtle that had traveled up from the Kern River to bury her eggs! We gave her a large birth so as not to disturb her.

As a side note, I mentioned that the trail has several ups and downs as well as blind curves. In an effort to avoid horse/ bicycle encounters this trail is closed to bicycles. New signage has been ordered and will be in place within a few weeks.

This trail is home to a plethora of wildlife as well as plants, flowers and trees. Take time to visit this beautiful area and enjoy all it has to offer – don’t forget your camera!

Nonprofit Partners- River Partners

When you visit the Panorama Vista Preserve and see all of the native trees, shrubs and vines where was once open fields, you can thank River Partners who are responsible for the forest below the bluffs.

River Partners is a Chico Based 501(c)(3) non-profit organization formed in 1998 whose mission as stated on their website is “to bring life back to rivers by creating wildlife habitat for the benefit of people and the environment.” They are currently doing habitat restoration on rivers from northern California to San Diego. Their work throughout California has helped California emerge as a world leader in restoration practices that empower communities to regenerate healthy rivers and floodplains.

In 2009 - 2010, the Kern River Corridor Endowment (KRCE) was awarded small grants from US Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Habitat Improvement Program, US Department of Interior Fish and Wildlife’s Partners in Wildlife Program and National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s 5-Star Program. Dedicated (KRCE) volunteers, planted the first 15 acres with 3,000 native trees, shrubs and vines grown out in the PVP nursery; the second 15 acres was planted the following year with another 3,000 plants. It was a learning experience; hard work to say the least and overwhelming when looking at 30 acres of plantings and seeing 728 acres to go.

About the same time, in 2009 Scott Frazier, a KRCE board advisor, from the United States Department of Interior, Fish & Wildlife introduced Julie Rentner from River Partners to me; her vision soon became the KRCE Board’s vision and thus began our journey to restore the land to the forest it once was. We jumped at the opportunity to partner with River Partners as they would plan, plant and manage our restoration projects. In partnership with River Partners, grants were applied for and received and our extensive restoration began. Lead by Julie Rentner and Stephen Sheppard, a Conceptual Restoration Study and Plan was completed in 2009. Since then River Partners has obtained grants for PVP totaling over $5,000,000.00. They have installed the irrigation infrastructure, gathered native plant seeds and cuttings from the Preserve, grown them out and have planted and cared for the plants during the length of the grant. For the past 13 years they have planted on Panorama Vista Preserve approximately 250 acres with about 57,000 trees, shrubs and vines.

So, you see you can thank River Partners and their cadre of expert employees for the amazing transformation from barren land to forest.

Native Plant- Common Elderberry

Common Elderberry bush (Sambucus nigra) is one of the most important food sources for birds in California. It can be found throughout the lower portions of the Panorama Vista Preserve, particularly along the river.

Elderberry forms a large shrub, potentially growing up to 30 feet high and around. It is technically deciduous, meaning it loses its leaves in the winter, but will often remain green throughout the year at the Preserve. In the spring, it forms creamy-white to yellow flowers that are clustered in large umbrella-shaped groups called cymes. The flowers are very popular with pollinating species, and are often buzzing with bees. In the summer, the Elderberry fruit develop, providing a critical food source for a number of species of birds.

The native Yokuts people used virtually every part of the Elderberry bush for various purposes. The wood was used to make whistles or clappersticks, a type of percussion instrument. The leaves were dried and used as an emetic to induce vomiting, and the dried flowers are used to make tea for treating colds and fever. The berries, although potentially poisonous while fresh, could be dried and then cooked to make medicinal syrups.*

*Information on indigenous uses sourced from https://ucanr.edu/sites/Elderberry/Indigenous/Indigenous_perspectives/

Wonderful Company mentoring day

On April 13th, the Preserve hosted about 30 employees from the Wonderful Company and 30 students involved with Stay Focused Ministries for a mentoring day sponsored by the Wonderful Company. The adults worked with Bill Cooper in the morning removing invasive plants and cleaning up the remains of former homeless camps. The teenagers arrived for lunch, received an orientation about the Preserve, and split into three groups. One group planted seeds in the nursery, one group took a tractor-pulled trailer ride to the beach on the south side of the Preserve, and the third group did team building crafts and games at the picnic tables. The groups rotated so all groups could participate in all activities. It was a productive, fun day for all involved!

Birds on the Preserve- Killdeer

by Andy Honig

Open fields at Panorama Vista are a favorite habitat of the killdeer where It is seen running around seeking insect prey.

The killdeer is most widely known for its “broken wing” behavior where it draws potential predators away from its nest by feigning an injury while moving away from the nest.

Killdeer eggs are laid in what would seem very unlikely locations. Sand or gravel is scooped out of a very slight hollow and the eggs are laid directly on the ground. The air temperature at nesting time frequently is above 100 degrees. The parents, however, work as a cooling system. They need to be fairly near water which they wet their bodies in. The wet bird then sits on the eggs and the egg temperature is kept to an ideal. (bottom photo shows a killdeer nest in gravel with a recently-hatched egg)

The eggs, after about 4 weeks, hatch in the order that they were laid and the newly hatched chicks are off and running, on their own.

Monarch butterfly update

Last year, the Panorama Vista Preserve joined with seven other sites across California in the Monarch Butterfly and Pollinator Rescue Program, funded by the California Wildlife Conservation Board. We planted two native species of milkweed- Narrowleaf Milkweed (Asclepias fascicularis) and Desert Milkweed (A. erosa) in several areas around the Preserve. Our hopes are that by providing islands of habitat along the Monarchs’ traditional migration routes, we can help to restore the population that has diminished to nearly endangered status.

We are thrilled to report that the program is a success- numerous Monarch caterpillars were sighted on the Preserve this spring, happily munching on our milkweed. Several adult Monarch butterflies have been spotted, but were too shy to pose for a photo. Later this season, we’ll be harvesting seeds from the existing plantings that will allow us to expand our plantings around the Preserve. We look forward to seeing more Monarchs in the future!

Point of Historical Interest- Yowlumne Yokuts

Archaeological evidence indicates the presence of Native American settlements dating back thousands of years. Upon Spanish arrival, present day Bakersfield was inhabited by the indigenous Yowlumne Yokuts. Their main village of Woilu was located on a low hill near today’s downtown Bakersfield. The Yowlumne Yokuts were a nature-wise people who lived a good life as hunters and gatherers. They lived in lodges along the branches of the Kern River delta and hunted antelope, tule elk, deer, fish and game birds. They also gathered fruits and seeds from native California plants such as elderberries, blackberries and acorns. Other villages and temporary hunting-fishing-gathering camps also dotted the land. One such camp is thought to have existed on the Panorama Vista Preserve.

Before take out canals and Lake Isabella Dam were built an abundance of runoff water produced a complex pattern of streams, slough, lakes and marchland throughout the basin. One would scarcely recognize the uniqueness of this environment today since virtually all of the runoff waters have been captured behind Lake Isabella dam and are led away through irrigation canals. As a consequence, the valley floor has become unnaturally arid wherever it is not cultivated and irrigated.

In 1776 Spanish missionary Francisco Garces became the first European to explore the area. He recorded his May 1 arrival to a Yokuts village along the Kern River immediately north east of the present Bakersfield (in the general vicinity of the Panorama Vista Preserve.) Father Garces wrote “The people of the Rancheria had a great feast over my arrival and having regaled me well, I reciprocated to them all with tobacco and glass beads congratulating myself on seeing the people so affable and affectionate”

Given the remoteness and inaccessibility of the region, the Yokuts remained largely isolated from further contact until after the Mexican War of Independence when Mexican settlers began to migrate to the area. Following the discovery of gold in CA in 1848, settlers flooded into the San Joaquin Valley and in 1865 oil was discovered in the valley. The Yokuts that survived retreated east to the mountains to build new villages and hunting camps.

Basketmaker photo courtesy of University of California on behalf of the USC Special Collections







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