The Beach Hollow Trail is short, but it has a big secret: It offers one of the best views of the beaver dam at Panorama Vista Preserve!
The Beach Hollow Trail is easy to find if you enter the Preserve from Panorama Park via the bluffs, or via the Kern River Parkway Trail (the “bike path.”) Cross the bridge at the base of the bluffs (Officially the Carrier Canal Bridge #2), and go straight toward the river. A signpost will point the way, and lead you down into the “hollow.” You’re soon walking in deep, soft sand, as is appropriate for a trail named “Beach Hollow.” Along the trail, you’ll find several spots with access to the river. If you walk far enough, you’ll come to an opening with a close-up view of the beaver dam!
Our resident beavers have used their continuously-growing teeth to gnaw through the local willows and cottonwoods, and dragged them down to the river. Using branches and twigs, the beavers engineer their own habitat in the river to create pools that slow the flow of water. In a sense, beavers are farmers, because the slower flow allows the buildup of sediment that provides fertile ground for vegetation to root, which in turns provides a food source for the beavers during the spring and summer. (The photo that accompanies this article shows the vegetation that has sprouted amongst the branches and twigs that form the dam.) In the fall and winter, the beavers will eat the wood that they’ve stored underwater in their pond.
If you go for a visit, please respect the beavers and their habitat. Please don’t try to add anything to the dam, nor take anything as a souvenir.
Left: From the Kern River Parkway Trail, a signpost will lead you to the Beach Hollow Trail.
Right: As the name of the trail suggests, its sandy here! The Beach Hollow Trail might be better for walking than cycling.
We have beautiful new brochures available now at the kiosk near the main parking lot. They include an aerial map of the Preserve with trails marked. Please share them with friends who would like to learn more about the Preserve!
We have a new addition to our Memorial Grove. Laura Salamanca was born in Northridge, CA in October 1986, and moved to Bakersfield at the age of three. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2017 at the age of 31. She was active in the local chapter of Young Survival Coalition (YSC), a support group for young survivors of breast cancer. She was very close to her family, which includes her parents, two sisters, and their families. Laura died March 19, 2021, and when one of the YSC members suggested planting a memorial tree at the Preserve, there was an enormous outpouring of support. Laura will have a California sycamore and two benches honoring her memory. To learn more about the Memorial Grove at the Preserve, click here.
Top photo: Laura Salamanca (in boxing gloves) with members of the YSC. Bottom photo: Members of Laura's family visiting the Preserve to learn more about the Memorial Grove
The Western Monarch Butterfly is a remarkable creature. Even though it is small, its migratory pattern is huge. The migration takes so long that no individual butterfly can ever make the entire trip. Somehow, the trip that is begun by one group of Monarchs is completed by future generations who return to a location they have never been to.
Along the way, the Monarchs depend on availability of habitat to rest, feed, and spawn the next generation of butterflies. Crucial to this habitat need is native milkweeds. Without milkweeds, the Monarchs have no food source for their larvae, or caterpillars. While adult Monarchs can feed on the nectar of many different plants, the caterpillars can only feed on the leaves of milkweed plants.
Recent destruction of habitat along the Monarch's migratory path has led to a dramatic decline in the butterflies' numbers. In the 1980s, the Monarch's population along the California coast was estimated to be in the millions. The beautiful coastal town of Pacific Grove has parks, restaurants, and hotels all named after the butterflies. But in recent years, the numbers have plummeted- last winter only 2,000 were counted.
A recent project involving the Preserve intends to change that. Panorama Vista Preserve founding member Andy Honig has been planting milkweed on the preserve for years, but now that effort has expanded, and the Preserve is now participating in the Monarch Butterfly and Pollinator Rescue Program, funded by a grant from the California Wildlife Conservation Board. The Preserve, along with seven other sites across the state, have planted significant amounts of two different species of native milkweed- Narrowleaf Milkweed (Asclepias fascicularis) and Desert Milkweed (A. erosa). Our hope is that by providing a safe haven and a food source for the Monarch, the populations can one day return to the glory of the past.
Above left, a worker from River Partners plants milkweed at the Panorama Vista Preserve. On the right, young Narrowleaf Milkweed (Asclepias fascicularis) await planting.
The Kern Audubon Society (KAS) is a chapter of the national Audubon Society and is headquartered in Bakersfield. There is also a chapter in Tehachapi. KAS is an advocate for birds and their environment. The enjoyment of being a birder is seeing the variety of colors, antics, and sounds that birds produce. The best part is all you need is a pair of binoculars and patience. The Panorama Vista Preserve is a premier birding location in Bakersfield. Since the Kern River and canals cross the preserve, the variety of birds is exceptional, from raptors and songbirds to shorebirds. Because the trees planted in the preserve are native to the Valley, more birds are attracted to the seeds and insects that can be found in the trees. A common bird of the area and the one adopted by KAS is the yellow-rumped warbler. The best times to bird are from 8-11 AM and 3-6 PM. You should also mindful that birds migrate from different regions, meaning that the birds are not always the same during the year. To find out more about KAS just visit our website. There you can download a brochure entitled the Birds of the Kern. It is a good start. And for your smartphone you can download a variety of birding apps which will help you to identify local birds.
information courtesy of Harry Love, KAS president
John Ackland's Gift
John Ackland was a professor in Anatomy, Physiology, and Zoology at Bakersfield College. He was Chairman of the Biology Department from 1971 to his retirement in 2006. He enjoyed spending his free time tending to his orchard and loved anything and everything John Deere. He had a farm-sized John Deere tractor and numerous attachments for his one acre lot. He so loved it that before he died he wanted to make sure his tractor and attachments would be gifted to the Panorama Vista Preserve.
John passed away on January 17th, 2021 and his daughter Patricia has made sure the Preserve would receive everything John Deere. It has all been transferred to the Preserve where it will be happily used. We are very grateful to John for his generous donation. Thank you John Ackland, may you rest in peace.
Top photo: John Ackland, bottom photo: Preserve Manager Joe Belli getting acquainted with the new tractor
Bakersfield Cactus, an Endangered Beauty
In 1844 while on an expedition with explorer John Fremont, Charles Preuss described the land and the Bakersfield Cactus, “The hilly country is completely bleak, without any vegetation except a beautiful Species of cactus whose magnificent red blossoms grace this sad sandy desert in a strange manner.”
The Bakersfield Cactus which historically grew from just north of the city of Bakersfield have given way to agricultural and urban use. There are approximately 30 small locations where this species of cactus currently grow. Three of those locations are on Panorama Vista Preserve.
In 1990 Bakersfield Cactus was listed as “endangered” by both the Federal government and the State of California. Conservation of the remaining populations is essential to prevent the extinction of this plant. On the Panorama Vista Preserve, the plants and their habitat are being protected from development.
The local office of the Endangered Species Recovery Program is working with the Preserve to help increase the total number of cactus population and reduce the threat of extinction.
You can find information to teach children about Bakersfield Cactus at this link from US Fish and Wildlife.
photo bottom right: Staff from the Endangered Species Recovery Program, CSU Stanislaus starting our Bakersfield Cactus area several years ago.
Eagle Scout Projects
Two new Eagle Scout projects were recently completed at the Preserve. Ethan Grubbs's Eagle Scout project allows us to modify the size of our parking lot. We will be able to control traffic in our parking lot, and easily open the gates to expand parking for events. A group of Scouts from Troop 442 spent hours using a posthole digger, pouring cement, stringing wire, and picking up trash.
Shelby Etheridge's project involved building a fence to protect our Bakersfield Cactus plantings, and included digging postholes, cementing posts, and attaching crossbars. These are both much-needed projects, and we appreciate the Scouts who planned and executed them. Seeing these polite, hardworking, dedicated Scouts makes one hopeful for the future.
On May 15th, nineteen volunteers from the Bakersfield chapter of the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) gathered at the Preserve to clean up an abandoned homeless camp as part of their Service to America. After spending a few hours cleaning up many bags of trash, the group enjoyed a tour of the Preserve. If your service group would like to help us clean up some other areas of concern, please contact the Preserve Manager, Joe Belli at this link. As we are privately-owned, we are responsible for cleaning up trash left on our property, and we are always appreciative of assistance.
Thank you for your generous donation
Sally Herald & Michael Yraceburn
John & Judy Laird
Corral #14 Western Wagons
Memorial for Laura Salamanca
Steve & Merry McCalley
California Retired Teachers, Area V1 Kern Co. Div.
Points of Historical Interest- Rocky Point Weir
The Rocky Point Weir is located within the Preserve. Its purpose is to divert the Kern River water into the Carrier Canal and control the flow down river. Enough water usually leaks through to maintain the river 3/4th of the way through the Preserve.
Prior to the construction of weirs on the Kern River, Bakersfield was a swampland. As people began to come to the area, there was a need to control the water through weirs. Colonel Thomas Baker began diverting water from the river in 1864 and by 1870 the Kern Island Canal became the area’s first major man-made irrigation canal.
In 1973 Tenneco West agreed to sell all its Kern River water rights to the City of Bakersfield including the weirs. The wooden structure of Rocky Point weir was buckled and nearing collapse when in 1982 the current Rocky Point Weir was constructed.
One could not cross the Rocky Point Weir until a request was made by KRCE to open it so people could travel from one side of the Preserve to the other. Gene Bogart, the Bakersfield City Water Manager at the time made it happen. Now the North side of the Preserve and the South side of the Preserve are connected by the Rocky Point Weir.