Newsletter- Winter 2021/2022
The Field and Dale Run will be held on the Preserve in mid-March 2022. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more details and registration information. (links to our social media can be found at the bottom of the newsletter)
(left) Dona Schilling & Mojo (right) Mojo’s Pass on a sunny day
Featured Trail: Mojo’s Pass
by Dona Schilling, PVP Trails Manager
Mojo’s Pass trail is located on the south side of the Kern River and, if traveling from the west heading east, takes off from the Silver Lining Trail and follows the Kern River until it again merges into Silver Lining Trail. Mojo’s Pass is primarily a single track trail with curves combined with a few minor ups and downs.
I have been involved with the Panorama Vista Preserve since its beginning and have served as the official PVP Trails Manager for many years. This trail was named after my “best horse ever”; an Arabian mare who became an endurance horse and spent thousands of hours with me on long rides throughout California. She was 5 years old when I was able to purchase her from a dear friend who could no longer ride long distances.
Mojo had the biggest personality of all the horses I have ever known. Her reputation for being impatient and a little bossy was well known. Bucking while being saddled and snapping her teeth to show her impatience was commonplace and she delighted in jumping unexpectedly over logs encountered on the trails. She had a great sense of humor and enjoyed escaping from her pen at Rancho Rio Equestrian Center. She would wait for a person to get almost to her head before digging in for another run to watch them resume their chase!
Panorama Vista Preserve was the training ground for Mojo for many years; preparing her stamina for 50 mile competitive endurance rides. On the day Mojo galloped over Rainbow Bridge at 34 years of age, we had been together for more than half my life. She is sorely missed to this day but lives on in a way, thanks to Mojo’s Pass.
In the early days, Mojo’s Pass was a little longer than it is today. This is due to a bad storm that caused a large cottonwood to fall and ruin part of the trail. The trail was promptly rerouted to the configuration you see today. This trail is full of wildlife and adventurous explorers may be treated to sightings of various fauna such as bobcats, skunks, coyote, hawks, raccoons and owls, just to name a few. A few days ago we witnessed a coyote couple on the trail. They were larger than most I have seen and the male closely resembled a German shepherd dog. I hope to see their pups in the spring!
Twenty years ago near the river on Mojo’s Pass the local youngsters nailed wooden steps to a large cottonwood tree which enabled them to climb high up the tree where a long rope with several knots in it hung. The rope was used to swing out into the middle of the river where they would let go and plunge into the water! As you ride this trail today you can still see some of the steps!
Another fun fact- 20 years ago there was an oil pipeline that crossed above the river just east of the “swinging rope tree”. One morning while riding Mojo’s Pass I observed a bobcat carefully crossing over the river from north to south. He used the pipeline as a bridge to get to the south side. The pipeline was removed several years ago, but there are still frequent Bobcat sightings in the area. Today the beaver have made a home in this area and their nearly completed dam is located below the swinging rope tree.
While Mojo’s Pass is a relatively short trail, it is teeming with wildlife and history. Take some time and go see it for yourself!
(left) “Swinging Rope Tree”. Some of the steps nailed to the tree more than 20 years ago are still visible. (right) Site where the Bobcat crossed the River using an oil field pipeline.
Local artist Nancy Nies created this beautiful painting of Andy and his students visiting the Bluffs and the Kern River
Andy Honig retires from board
Andy Honig, longtime conservation enthusiast, has recently retired from the executive board of Panorama Vista Preserve. Andy grew up in Los Angeles, and came to Bakersfield in 1969 to teach in the Bakersfield City School District. He and his wife Sasha married in 1972. Both have been active in conservation groups such as Sierra Club, Kern Audubon Society, California Native Plant Society (CNPS), Xerxes Society, and the Kern River Parkway Foundation since the 1970s. Andy and Sasha believe that all conservation groups have common goals, and have tried to connect them so they may work together successfully.
In 1997, Andy started a recycling project in his classroom at Williams Elementary. Students would bring in recyclables, and the money received was donated toward the purchase of the land that later became the Panorama Vista Preserve. Students who brought in the most recyclables were rewarded by getting to eat lunch with their beloved Mr. Honig. The enthusiasm shown for this project is a testament to Andy’s popularity with his students, as his class ultimately raised over $300 (an awful lot of cans and bottles). Another teacher at the school was inspired by Andy’s fundraising events and encouraged her students to bring in pennies, which were also donated to the fundraising efforts. The top recyclers were honored at a press conference that was picked up by the news wires and shown around the country. Andy took his students on a field trip to the Panorama bluffs, so the students could see where their donation was going. Andy walked them down the bluffs to the river, which was the first time some of the children had seen the Kern River.
Andy was instrumental in the initial planning of the revegetation and plantings at the Preserve. He worked with his friend and fellow CNPS member, Steve Hampson, along with other volunteers, and planted PVP’s first grove called the Brown Grove, named for the Patricia A. Brown Foundation, who were major contributors to the purchase of the PVP. Andy and Steve collected seeds and cuttings of native plants and propagated them in Andy’s backyard. They stretched drip line, and were able to use water from nearby cooperative neighbors. Unfortunately in 2004, false chinch bugs infested the grove, killing nearly all the plants. Andy and Steve were undeterred and replanted. When Steve Hampson died in 2007, Andy proposed a grove to honor him. The PVP board was hesitant to expand the plantings at that time due to lack of water for irrigation, but Andy planted the Hampson Grove anyway, and watered the plantings by hand with 5 gallon cat litter jugs.
Andy was jokingly referred to as the “native plant cop,” due to his dedication to the propagation of native species and advocacy for the control of invasive species. When Sasha created the PVP website (and later the PVP Facebook and Instagram pages), she and Andy insured that the website would include an extensive catalogue of native and invasive plants including descriptions and photos. This work has proven invaluable to those who want to learn more about native plants.
Later, Andy became interested in the propagation of native milkweed, in response to the decline of the monarch butterfly population that rely on the milkweed for survival. He gathered desert milkweed seeds (A.erosa) and started an experimental plot, which he also hand watered with his trusty cat litter jugs. HIs initial milkweed project is located just east of the Bakersfield cactus area at the Preserve, and ultimately led to our more recent milkweed project where 3,600 native milkweed plants and other nectar-rich plants were planted throughout the Preserve.
We thank Andy for his many years of service to Panorama Vista Preserve, and will look forward to seeing him out on the trails.
(top) Andy using his cat litter jugs to water the original milkweed plot (bottom) Andy volunteering at a science camp at PVP
Urban Greening and Connectivity Grant
Kern County Public Works and partner Panorama Vista Preserve were awarded an $815,700 grant from the California National Resources Agency’s Urban Greening Grant Program. This grant will fund bike lanes along Roberts Lane between North Chester Avenue and the Panorama Vista Preserve, in addition to planting native trees and shrubs around the Panorama Vista Preserve parking lot. Kern County Public Works will also fund pavement rehabilitation on portions of Roberts Lane between Angus Lane and the Panorama Vista Preserve parking lot, which is anticipated to cost approximately $700,000. The project is anticipated to be completed by March 2023. (information from Kern County Public Works Department)
Wood Duck Report
We are happy to report that 72 chicks were born on the Preserve this year despite the unstable weather conditions, including the unusually hot weather. We thank all of those involved in our nesting box project.
LA Times reporters visit the Preserve
A recent article in the Los Angeles Times about the fight for water in the Kern River bed has already spread around the world. A former resident of Bakersfield reported that they saw the article from their new hometown of Oslo, Norway.
The story, published in the paper and online earlier this month, tells the story of the Kern River, all the way back to before Colonel Baker dug the first canal to divert water from the river. The author included interviews with local residents, activists, and native Americans whose traditions have been disrupted by the drying up of the river. Another interview subject was Carolyn Belli, President of the Kern River Corridor Endowment, which owns the Panorama Vista Preserve. In the article, Carolyn is quoted as saying “I think it’s [the Preserve] is a model of what should be, all through the river, all the way through town.” “Having a flowing river in the city would provide habitat for animals and a shady pathway to cool the city,” and would “transform Bakersfield into really a beautiful landscape.” Carolyn says that additional flow through the river would have a “tremendous impact” on the Preserve. “It would increase the groundwater level to ensure the health of the plants and animals on the Preserve into the future. It would transform the entire Kern River Parkway into a green corridor.”
Certified Wildlife Habitat Designation
Panorama Vista Preserve has been recognized as an official National Wildlife Federation Certified Wildlife Habitat, joining a prestigious group of NWF members across the country who have committed to protecting and nurturing wildlife in their own habitat.
The National Wildlife Federation is America’s largest wildlife conservation and education organization. They praised the dedication of individuals who have worked many hours on the Panorama Vista Preserve to provide natural sources of food, water, cover and places to raise young and is maintained in a sustainable way that incorporates native plants, conserves water and doesn’t rely on pesticides. It makes a real difference in area wildlife. It’s a perfect grassroots way to think globally and act locally to help birds, butterflies, bees and other wildlife.
A new project has begun on the Preserve
photo of the upland includes Bakersfield cactus and saltbush
The Kern River Corridor Endowment is the recipient of a $525,872 federal grant from The Central Valley Project Improvement Act (U.S Department of the Interior). The grant is for Alkali Scrub and Bakersfield Cactus Habitat Enhancement at Panorama Vista Preserve.
The 300 acre project will be on the far north side of the Preserve in the upland. River Partners is in charge of the project. They have submitted a cactus handling permit to the California Department of Fish & Wildlife for approval. Once the permit is in hand they will begin planning for harvesting the cactus pads for propagation. They will be able to propagate approximately 250 pads which will be planted in 27 individual plots throughout the designated areas.
Field staff has been collecting seeds from plants on site. The primary species to be collected is saltbush. Site maps for those patches are currently being completed.
Kern River Rights
photo of dry Kern River near Allen Rd
A recent hearing at the state Water Resources Control Board didn’t result in any new information regarding whether the City of Bakersfield will ultimately be successful in getting water to flow in the Kern River through the city. The hearing, held on December 9th and 10th, continued to examine two separate issues related to the city’s efforts: First of all- did a 2007 court ruling result in new available water, and secondly, is that water available to the city as a “new user,” or should it be reallocated among existing rights holders? A separate issue is regarding whether there is additional, unappropriated water that might be available to new users during high-water years. That subject will be debated at a separate set of hearings. In what might be viewed as a blow to the city’s efforts was a ruling by the Administrative Hearing Officer in charge of the case that the Public Trust Doctrine will not be considered during this phase. (The Public Trust Doctrine is the idea that the state of California holds water and other natural resources “in trust” for the public’s benefit, and must ensure that those resources are being utilized in the public’s best interest.)
The final phase of the hearings will occur in January, when attorneys for both sides will file closing briefs.
Nonprofit partners- Sierra Club Kern Kaweah Chapter
Sierra Club members participating in one of PVP’s science camps
by Eddy Layne
The purposes of Sierra Club are: (1) to explore, enjoy and protect the wild places on earth, (2) to practice and promote the responsible use of the earth ecosystems and resources and (3) to educate and enlist humanity to protect and restore the quality of our natural and human environment. These goals make Sierra Club a perfect partner for Panorama Vista Preserve.
The local Kern-Kaweah Chapter has been a long-time supporter of Panorama Vista Preserve. In one instance, the Sierra Club donated $55,000 for the solar energy project at the Preserve which now provides electricity for the Preserve’s on-site maintenance and nursery. Gordon Nipp was instrumental in obtaining those funds through a mitigation agreement. The solar energy for Panorama Vista Preserve has saved thousands of dollars since its installation in February of 2013.
The local Sierra Club Chapter has been also an active participant in the Panorama Vista Preserve’s Science Day Camp for Kern County’s sixth graders. Led by Barbara Reifel, the Sierra Club’s curriculum emphasized the importance of protecting the environment. Students were provided a brief history of changes along the Kern River since it was partially diverted into canals and as a result of nearby oil developments. Students were also shown a series of pictures of plants and animals found in the Preserve and challenged to think into the future about the importance of recycling and other methods to mitigate the effects of man-made climate change.
Thank you for your generous donation
Kris & Fred Applequist
Richard & Nancy O’Neil
To learn how to make a tax-deductible donation, click here.
Point of Historical Interest
THE RAILROAD FLATCAR BRIDGE
Have you ever wondered how a railway flat car came to be across the Carrier Canal just east of the newer bridge below the bluffs?
At one time there was an old wood bridge that crossed the canal that an oil company put in for their use; and that equestrians and others also used to cross the canal. One July 4th, in the late 1980’s fireworks were set off on that bridge, burning it beyond repair.
After months with no way to cross the canal, a group of local equestrians who had used that bridge contacted then Supervisor Pauline Larwood to see what could be done to replace the burned bridge. Through Supervisor Larwood the County found an old train flatcar in Barstow for $1,200. The equestrians held several fundraisers, BBQ’s, Poker Rides, etc., and raised $1,000 toward the purchase of the flatcar. The County agreed to put in $200, to transport the flatcar from Barstow to Bakersfield, to install the rail flat car near where the old bridge had burned down and to remove the remains of the burnt bridge.
Several years later, the County, using transportation funds, installed a paved bicycle path from San Miguel Grove to China Grade Loop. Two bridges were installed across the Carrier Canal as part of the project. The first being the bridge crossing the canal just west of the flatcar bridge. The second bridge was put in crossing over the canal near Rocky Point Weir.
Although still used, the flatcar bridge never had safety side rails like the new bridge does so many equestrians choose to cross by the new bridge as it is less of a challenge.
The top photo shows the ribbon cutting of the completed flatcar bridge. Supervisor Larwood is shown just coming on the bridge. Marcy Cunningham, one of the organizers and a contributor to the article is shown on her horse at the top left of the photo. The burnt bridge can be seen just east of the flatcar bridge.
Copyright (C) 2021 Panorama Vista Preserve/Kern Corridor Endowment. All rights reserved.
Panorama Vista Preserve is located at:
901 East Roberts Lane, Bakersfield, CA 93308
(the parking lot is about 100 yds. east of the sign)
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