Tracks - July 2013

Colorado Desert District Newsletter - News of the Colorado Desert Ranger District includes San Diego and Imperial Counties. Issue includes information of the recent fire at Picacho State Recreation site and fossil finds in Anza Borrego Desert.
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Inside this issue Not a desk job, Page 6 Gold and Silver, Page 7 T R A C K S July 2013 Colorado Desert District Newsletter Island Lake Fire burns six miles of Picacho’s shoreline Photo by Sue Barney From Lower Dock at Picacho State Recreation Area, smoke fills the sky as a wall of fire moves upriver on both sides of the Colorado River. New Park patch, Page 8 By Ranger Sue Barney Picacho State Recreation Area Sunday, May 19, a large plume of black smoke was spotted about a half mile south of the Lower Dock at Picacho State Recreation Area. The wildfire originated on the Arizona side of the river in the Imperial National Wildlife Refuge. Flames from the fire were clearly visible from our maintenance shop and employee housing area. A large sandbar in that area provides a recreation spot for many boaters and they could be seen on the river watching as the fire burned both directions. Emergency services were notified and preparations were made for evacuation. Fire crews from the Imperial National Wildlife Refuge arrived by vessel and several hours later they were successful in stopping the fire at the south end below Island Lake. The fire continued to burn north and by early evening it had moved past the upper dock. (Continued on Page 12) Page 2 LOG JAM: Notes from the District, sectors Salton Sea State Recreation Area From the desk of Interpreter I Fredda Stephens: Again this year we participated in the 24th annual Idyllwild Earth Fair May 18. Pairing up with Mount San Jacinto State Park, we staffed a table with more than just fun things to do. Making colorful flower pinwheels in the shade is a great way to spend time at the Earth Fair in Idyllwild. Photos by Fredda Stephens Making a rabbit mask is a lot of fun at the Earth Day fair in Idyllwild. The Earth Fair’s mission is to balance festivity and education, and celebrate the diversity of the natural word, while motivating people to be actively involved in preservation. Does that sound a little familiar? We all are on the same page. This year the fair featured live entertainment, organic foods, interactive booths with recycled art and paper making, solar energy, composting, wildlife education and more. Visitors also were treated to personal encounters with Western Monarch butterflies in the butterfly tent and reptiles, insects, birds and even a goat. Our table was very popular. With the help of Interpretive Specialist Ina Lengyal from Idyllwild, we assembled hundreds of flower pinwheels, pipe cleaner insects and rabbit masks for all the children to learn about while they practiced their fine motor skills. Our vocal stuffed Audubon birds were a big hit and we all had a great time. It is always so nice to see a community come together with a great educational opportunity for everyone. What a fun and worthwhile mission. Palomar Mountain State Park You have to get the eyes on just right to make a proper bug. From the desk of Senior Park Aide Daniel Minshew: It’s summer time here at Palomar Mountain (Continued on Page 3) Page 3 . LOG JAM: District, sector notes (cont.) (Continued from Page 2) and as the temperature rises so does the activity of our bug and snake population. We already have had six rattlesnake sightings in the past month. Ranger Jessica Murany responded to a call the second weekend of June in the Doane Valley Campground when campers reported a Southern Pacific rattlesnake who was hanging out a little too close for comfort. The snake was trying to procure a mid-day snack of ground squirrel after lethally injecting it within their campsite. Somehow the friendly serpent managed to hide underneath a log away from the two legged creatures which made the extraction of this slithery guy a little tricky, but with some good “ole fashioned” State Park ingenuity, Jessica was able to rig a trash claw with some duct tape, a shovel and some rope to remove the snake without causing any harm to Photo by Daniel Minshew the snake who was promptly returned to a less Park Aide Kate Rochester is happy to be working at Palomar Mountain State Park. populated area along with his snack. It seems that the increase in people for the start of summer hasn’t deterred the local mountain lion population from making its presence known. A reporter from the San Diego (Continued on Page 3) to see one of Union-Tribune was lucky enough these impressive cats on his day hike in midMay. He reported seeing the cat as he was heading down the south side of Boucher Lookout. He followed the cat for about 150 to 200 yards (apparently they don’t offer mountain lion safety 101 where this guy studied journalism) before the cat took off and jumped down the embankment and out of sight. This report coincided with six others we’ve received since the start of the calendar year. It was just last year that local Palomar Mountain resident and retired State Parks employee Dave Robarts had one of these cats come sauntering into his home. This account was more of an anomaly than the norm, but let’s hope that with the elevated number of sightings and Park visitors for the summer we can co-exist with our native felines without incident. We would like to graciously welcome our two new employees: Amanda Carlin and Kate Rochester. Amanda will be our new seasonal interpretive specialist who will launch our pilot programs, Palomar Outdoor Youth Challenge. Amanda is originally from Cleveland, Ohio, and came to California in 2002 to attend college. She currently is working on a master’s degree in zoology and has worked with educating children and their parents for the last four years. She is a mother of a 5-year-old boy and is married to a chef. Her passion is in environmental conservation and education. (Continued on Page 4) Page 4 LOG JAM: District, sector notes (cont.) (Continued from Page 3) Kate is learning the duties of a seasonal park aide. She is a San Diegan and currently resides in Julian. Kate has studied some zoology and has a passion for nature, wild life, photography and reading. She has always wanted to work in National or State Parks and hopes to develop a career in parks. Kate has three beautiful children. Boucher Lookout is starting resemble more of an active fire tower these days than an abandoned ghost town. After being dormant and unmanned for the better of two decades, the fire tower received a fresh make-over with new paint and siding last year. The Volunteer Fire Tower Lookout Association has been spearheading efforts to man the tower on a more regular basis. It was successful last year and 12 volunteers staffed the tower 25 days between September 1 and November 18, made four smoke reports and gave 1,438 visitors interpretive tours. This year we received an overwhelming amount of volunteer recipients when they flew Photo by Steve Bier Loaded with pollen, a bee continues to visit flowers in ABDSP. the opening for volunteers at the tower. Upon completion of their crash course at the High Point Lookout Tower located on the other side of Palomar near the Observatory, the new volunteer cadets will be ready for action. We’ve been blessed so far this year to not have any incidents with brush fire so here’s hoping we will be as fortunate the rest of the year as we were the first half. From the desk of Heidi Addison-Bier: Felidae Conservation Fund provided a program on pumas last month. The presenter, Zara McDonald, sent this email on her way back to northern California. "Hi Heidi, “I wanted to follow up with you and let you know that after leaving the other night, about two miles down the road, we had an incredible sighting of a female mountain lion and her cub, peacefully walking away from us up a dirt/gravel driveway. The cub rolled around a few times and the mother patiently waited. Was a beautiPhoto by Jessica Murany ful three minutes and a perfect ending to that A crab or flower spider, Misumenops sp., day. Interestingly on that same day, around the takes a walk on a western azalea blossom. time we were driving to CRSP, a lion was hit Cuyamaca Rancho State Park  The spider is an ambush predator and is found all over the United States and Canada. (Continued on Page 5) Page 5 LOG JAM: District, sector notes (cont.) 900 acres in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, which included Rodriguez Canyon and the backside of Granite and Chariot mountains. As usual, the inconvenience of having a fire start on a holiday weekend made this event a special challenge. I want to thank all those who answered the call to assist at the IC or in the field during that fire. A special shout out to Supervising Ranger Sue McLaughlin who served as my representative at the scene of the fire as well at the IC when it Photo by Sam Webb moved to Puerta La Cruz. Everyone should be Mike and Jan Bigelow host the last ABDSP so lucky to have someone so dependable as volunteer potluck of the season where Mike Sue. cooked hamburgers for the crowd. Also kudos to Park Maintenance Worker II (Continued from Page 4) Scot Martin, who shortened his weekend plans to come out to the fire and work with crews on the 8 freeway and killed by a car. and bulldozer operators in the first critical “Thanks for having us… hours of the fire. Associate Archeologist Sue “Best, Zara McDonald" Wade also dropped her plans for Monday and Anza-Borrego Desert State came out to protect cultural sites. Rangers Ste- Park The Volunteer Potluck will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday, July 16, at the Paroli Homesite in Culp Valley. Bring a complete place setting including silverware, a beverage, a potluck dish to share and a chair. District and ABDSP staff are encouraged to attend these functions—a chance to interact and show our appreciation to our wonderful volunteers. From the desk of Superintendent Kathy Dice: Wow! Three fires in a week in May. We hope that means we will have a break for awhile. The Island Lake Fire in Picacho burned 3,200 acres, the San Felipe Fire did not damage any State Park lands but burned 2,800 acres just north of the ABDSP boundary and the General Fire took 1,271 acres. The General Fire, which was started by target shooters across the street from the Banner store around noon burned a little more than (Continued on Page 6) Former District Superintendent Dave Van Cleve writes book Retired District Superintendent Dave Van Cleve has written a book about his years working for State Parks. “My new (little) book has just been published on Amazon,” he wrote. “It takes a humorous look back at my 32 years in the Park Service and is mostly a collection of anecdotes about the wacky people and situations I ran into.” The book, Have a Nice Day Job, can be ordered at dp/1484850793/ref=sr_1_1? s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1368723663&sr=1 -1. Page 6 LOG JAM: District, sector notes (cont.) (Continued from Page 5) ve Bier, Jeri Zemon and Nicole Van Doren also stepped up to the plate—Steve more than once. And research Anaylst II (GIS) L.Louise Jee quickly responded with maps. Last but not least I would like to thank the Resource folks, District Services Manager Gail Sevrens, Environmental Scientists Eric Hollenbeck and Mike Puzzo for applying their expertise to the rehabilitation portion of the fire. The San Felipe Fire started as a prescribed burn on California Department of Fish and Wildlife property in the lower San Felipe Valley. It jumped the line and began burning south near Vulcan Mountain. There were some small spot fires on the east side of S-2 close to the monument at Scissor's Crossing. Steve Bier was at IC with members of the Resources Crew, Scot Martin and Park Maintenance Assistant Daniel Aceves. Helicopters, bulldozers and ground crews battled the blaze to get a line around it. Photo by Steve Bier ABDSP Maintenance Mechanic Mike Drye picks up an unused propane tank with the front loader to make room for a new storage unit in the maintenance yard. visitor a year ago. Happy retirement to Cherie Grout. She completed more than 16 years of work for us and is now living in Hemet. Since that leaves a crew of only three to care for our facilities these next few months, we are bringing Park Maintenance Aide Natalie McSparron back to assist us with Thanks to Park Maintenance Assistant Franz housekeeping and priority projects a few days Boschiero and Ranger Josh Heitzman, we now here and there. Please give her a big hello when have a new interpretive sign posted in Ar- you see her. royo Tapiado explaining the safety hazards of Coyote Canyon, Horse Camp and Tamarisk the mud caves. This was a project that has long been overdue and was driven into fast forward Grove were closed as of June 1 until September after the unfortunate death of the explorer/ 30 by District Superintendent Dan Falat’s order, as they are every year. Our Visitor Center is Photo by now open only on weekends and holidays Sam Webb Retired ABDSP through September. Superintendent Mark Jorgensen speaks at an orientation meeting for people who will participate in the annual July 4th sheep count. Colorado Desert District Environmental Scientist Joe Hopkins reports Flat Tail Horned Lizard survey crews have been assisted by new volunteers Denise Zuranski, a Visitor Center volunteer, and Bruce Edley, a recent college graduate and a devoted ABDSP herpetologist. Donna Hopkins, who worked with the crew last season, has returned. Page 7 ABF trustee receives several book awards lishers Association Benjamin Franklin gold medal for interior design and a silver medal for history. Gold and Silver also received a PubWest Book Design gold award for photography and is a finalist in the San Diego Books Awards for history. Nick, a documentary filmmaker who has studied and filmed the deserts of the world, was visiting Death Valley when he noticed the Queen of Sheba mine. He was drawn into the story of the mine and that led to his third book, Who Killed Chester Pray? A Death Valley Mystery. His latest book on the Mojave evolved out of the research for that book. Nick has lived in Borrego for several years Author Nicholas Clapp’s newest book, Gold and serves as a trustee for the Anza-Borrego and Silver in the Mojave: Images of a Last Frontier, Foundation and is a ABDSP volunteer. The has been awarded the Independent Books Pub- book was published by Sunbelt Publications. Footprints Brenda Hemond has accepted the position of ABDSP’s Park Maintenance Chief. Brenda began with DPR in 1992 as a groundskeeper at Old Town, San Diego, and served in a variety of maintenance positions after that. Brenda comes to us from Bodie State Historical Park in Sierra District where she was the maintenance supervisor. Brenda starts July 15. Amanda Carlin is the new seasonal interpretive specialist in charge of new pilot programs, Palomar Outdoor Youth Challenge, at PMSP. Kate Rochester joins Amanda at PMSP as a Park Aide. District Services Manager Gail Sevrens has accepted a job with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. ABDSP Ranger Paul Reisman has been named superintendent of Mount San Jacinto State Park. Resources Crew members Park Maintenance Worker II Scot Martin, Park Maintenance Assistant Daniel Aceves, Park Maintenance Aide John Molina and Park Maintenance Aide Jack Jorgensen are off for the summer season. Environmental Scientist Lisa Gonzales-Kramer is moving to Iowa to be with her family. She will continue to supervisor the reforestation of CRSP from there for a short time. Sandra Bennett has joined CRSP as a Park Aide. Environmental Scientist Mike Puzzo is off for a few months to be with his new son, Kellen. Page 8 Paige Rogowski is ABF’s executive director The Anza-Borrego Foundation Anza-Borrego Foundation (ABF) announced the appointment of Paige Rogowski as executive director. Paige, who previously served as development director, will provide leadership to ABF in its role as ABF also anthe cooperating assonounced that it has ciation working to preserve and protect Anza-Borrego Desert State received a new patch (and has other items Park. “We’re delighted to have Paige leading the or order) to celeFoundation,” said board President Ralph Singer. brate the 150 years “Her non-profit leadership skills, her expertise of California State in outdoor recreation and conservation, and her Parks. The patch is demonstrated commitment to land protection available for $3.95 in the region all dovetail with ABF’s initiative to and $3.16 for volunreach new generations of Park supporters. She teers. It is available at is the right person at the right time to guide the the Visitor Center and ABF’s Park Store. Foundation.” Paige replaces C. L. “Chuck” Bennett who Friends of Palomar Mountain State Park served as interim executive director after his 19 The girls of Girl years of service on the ABF board. Scout Brownie “I am honored to step in to this role at this Troop 1852 of stage in the organization’s development,” said Carlsbad raised and Paige. “Anza-Borrego Desert State Park holds a donated $100 tospecial place in my heart, as it does for so many ward keeping Paloothers. The Park contains valuable natural and mar Mountain State recreational resources and we must look to the Park. next generations to protect them forever. I look "Your gift will have forward to building upon ABF’s excellent a big impact on the achievements during the last 45 years.” Park," Rick Barclay, Chairman of Friends of PalPaige holds a bachelor’s degree in American omar, told the girls during the official hand Studies from the University of California at San- over ceremony. "Absolutely every dollar ta Cruz. She received a certificate in Fund Rais- counts to keep the Park open and beautiful, no ing Management from the Center on Philanthro- doubt about it. I'm really impressed with your py at Indiana University. hard work—you had to sell a lot of cookies to She first joined Anza-Borrego Foundation in raise a hundred dollars! And I'm especially 2006. Paige has also served as the development (Continued on Page 9) director for Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics and managed the volunteer accreditation process for the American Camp Association Southern California and Hawaii. During her career she has raised more than $15 million dollars for charitable causes. ABF's mission is to protect and preserve the natural landscapes, wildlife habitat and cultural heritage of ABDSP for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations. Page 9 Girl Scouts, Wilsons give to PMSP (cont.) (Continued from Page 8) grateful that you decided to share your hardearned money with Palomar." In February the girls visited the Park—many for the first time—and were struck by its beauty and learned of the Park's plight. When it came time to sell cookies and to decide where to contribute a portion of their proceeds, supporting Palomar Mountain State Park in its hour of need was proposed—an idea that came from the girls, not their parents. The gift was given in loving memory of Dan Photo by Sam Webb Beishline, recently departed grandfather of one Name your favorite Some of the ABDSP volunteers who attendof the girls. mar is thrilled about is $30,000 from the Wilson Family Foundation. This is the second gift of that size that Bob and Marion Wilson have donated to help save and support Palomar Mountain State Park. The first was given as a match challenge in early 2012, immediately after Friends kicked off our initial fund drive. This most recent contribution came spontaneously through an awareness of what it will take to keep Palomar open and thriving. "I still believe in the concept of private support for our state parks," said Mr. Wilson. "Judging from the assessment portrayed in our newspapers, it is the only answer." The Wilsons' generous donations of $60,000 represents nearly a third of the $190,000 Friends has raised so far. "I just want what's best for Palomar," Mr. Wilson stated. Mr. Wilson’s support for Palomar goes beyond financial and includes his inestimable service as a premier advocate for the Park. He has personally laid the groundwork for potential future support from five local Indian bands and casinos. In March 2012 he was the focus of a news in our District who work so diligently for our parks. books so we can read ed the May potluck enjoy their meal (see them too! Another donation that the Friends of Palo- page 5). This is just one group of volunteers article about how private support was the last remaining option for saving Palomar from permanent closure, and in May 2013 he was featured in The California Report's "Will Locals Keep Paying for State Parks They Saved?" produced by National Public Radio. SSSRA Volunteers and staff are taking a close look at the Visitor Center stock and will be working on handouts, brochures and future programs. A new book by local artist Christina Lange, Portraits and Voices of the Salton Sea, is available in the Center and, according to Interpreter I Fredda Stephens, is a beautiful tribute to the people of the Salton Sea with hauntingly memorable photography and stories from local residents. (Continued on Page 10) Sea and Desert Interpretive Association Page 10 Kayak trips are planned at PSRA(cont.) (Continued from Page 9) dent Bill Meister. Spending most of her life at the Salton Sea, Connie Brooks reports that this is the first time that the Camp Store has been open during she has witnessed many changes that have takfishing season and were they ever surprised at en place. Joining the board in the early 1990s, the amount of business they had. They broke all Frances has been vice president, secretary and winter records and weren't able to keep bait, treasurer and was a park aide as well. “It’s been wonderful watching how much coffee or snacks in stock! the SDIA has advanced over the years. It’s SDIA Board Member Frances Fiamengo re- been a lot of fun and very challenging” she stated. “I have really enjoyed meeting and working tired from the board after more than 20 years. “It’s very sad to see her go. She has been a with people here and at Picacho. I will miss very active part of our board,” said SDIA Presi(Continued on Page 11) Photo by Connie Brooks In spite of the fire in May, kayak trips are planned for October 5 and 6, October 12 and 13, and October 19 and 20 at Picacho State Recreation Area. The overnight trips are sponsored by the Sea and Desert Interpretive Association and include a kayak, camping space, special boat tour, two breakfasts, lunch and dinner as well as round-trip transportation from the Salton Sea State Recreation Area. The kayak trip is $150 per person and with the round-trip transportation it is $199.00. There is a $25 discount for couples. Reserve by calling Connie at (760) 289.9455. Page 11 Volunteers keep CRSP’s trails open (cont.) working on Kelly’s Ditch by the Park boundary. everyone, but will still be here to help with fes- Hopefully that part of the trail to Engineer’s Road will be done soon. Jim then plans to finish tivals.” up West Mesa by Monument. Milo came out CRSP’s Interpretive Assistance Unit again on Saturday of Memorial Day weekend By Philip Price (Volunteer Librarian) Yes, we have a library and even a collection and worked on the front of Stonewall. He was of archival materials! And with these we can all joined by Elizabeth Baker and Marc Campbell. Meanwhile, Dave McClure took Skip Davis learn more about the wonders of Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, its history, people and sur- out to Fern Flat Fire Road to clear some rounding environment, the flora and fauna that downed trees. Alas they only got one tree done call this place home. This resource is provided before succumbing to a flat on their truck. The for volunteers as well as staff to enhance our spare looked mighty sketchy, so erring on the understanding of the Park and to enrich our side of discretion, they limped back down to Name your favorite the shop. Bill Butter’s been taking care of tree interactions with all who may we can read books Molly Jean Featheringill, whotoo! formerly was limbs at rider and horse heights with his trusty them responsible for the functioning of the library, 24” saw while riding in the park. (Continued from Page 10) has been a pillar of activity and volunteerism and has led the way to making the Visitor Center and the library what it is today. A binder with a simple procedure for borrowing books is on top of a storage tote in the back of the Visitor Center’s conference room. CRSP’s Mounted Assistance Unit By Bonnie Slager CRSP’s Trails Maintenance Unit By Michele Hernandez This month the hike and hack was cancelled due to May Training. A work party went out the following weekend on Cold Stream Trail South out of Paso Picacho. Milo led Reeve and Georgia Peterson, Elizabeth Baker and Susan Russo south while Dave McClure went down to Cold Stream parking and worked north with Marc Campbell. Ken McIntire and his hard working crew have been working on Burnt Pine and Sugar Pine. He and Wally also took out a huge fallen tree on Kelly’s Ditch. Park Maintenance Supervisor Jim Dascoulias and his crew have been May was a busy month and the Park has really been beautiful with wild flowers popping up all over and a lot of small pine and oak trees growing up to four or five feet tall. The Park is really making a comeback now from the fire. I cannot believe it has been ten years this coming October. The Park is certainly different but beautiful and showing so many signs of regrowth. The Benefit Ride is schedule July 28 and the annual MAU Family and Friends campout is just around the corner. We start Thursday, June 20, and stay until Monday, June 24. CRSP’s Mountain Bike Assistance Unit By Chad Leptich Recently while on patrol, I came across a new type of trail user. These mountain bikers unplug from society for weekend bike packing trips. They are easy to spot because they have travel bags on their handle bars and behind the seats. These people were very friendly and happy to converse about their travels. One had started near Idyllwild and was trying to make it to downtown San Diego. The idea is to ride all day and sleep at State and County Parks and make it home in time for work on Monday. Page 12 Winds blew embers across river (cont.) (Continued from Page 1) Firefighters from Imperial County and Winterhaven Fire Department were on stand-by in the main campground for structure protection. Fortunately the air was calm and the fire remained slow moving on the Arizona side of the river. Efforts were made during the night by ground crews but a stand of hot burning tamarisk caused the fire to jump the line. Monday brought 30 to 35 miles per hour high winds that fueled the fire. Forty foot flames shot up and eerie whistling sounds could be heard as the heat sucked the moisture from willow trees. Shifting winds blew embers across the river igniting vegetation in the Park near Taylor Lake. The fire burned both directions on the California side and continued north in the refuge on the Arizona side. Looking upriver (north) from Carrizo, the fire still is very active. Hoge Rock is on the right. It is obvious the fire jumped the river again and even the island in the middle of the river was burned. about 12 miles of the refuge shoreline in Arizona, about 3,200 acres total. While much of the vegetation was phragmites and salt cedar, several stands of cottonwoods and willows also were impacted. Within Picacho, two shade structures and a bathroom were completely burned. Two shade structures and some wood parking rail were partially burned. (Continued on Page 13) Yuma County Sheriff looks for boaters that will have to evacuate the area while flames move right down to the Colorado River. About 100 firefighters from agencies as far away as Las Vegas, Prescott and Tucson responded along with air support. Inmates from the Arizona Department of Corrections worked the Arizona side along with crews from the refuge. Photos by Sue Barney When the smoke cleared, the flames had tak- The flag still waves over Old Lonesome’s en more than six miles of our shoreline and grave at Carrizo Boat-in Camp at PSRA. Page 13 Park was closed on Memorial Day (cont.) (Continued from Page 12) The impacted area covered from south of Taylor Lake to north of 4S Beach Camp. The timing of the fire forced the closure of the Park during the Memorial Day weekend. ABDSP Ranger Josh Heitzmann was a big help to us in keeping recreationalists off the hazardous shorelines and out of the closed camp areas. With the vegetation removed one could get a sense of what the river was like long before the phragmites were introduced to aid in eroPark maintenance Assistant Georgia Schneision control along the river banks. Some histor- der checks out damage at PSRA’s 4-S Beach Name your favorite ic sites, long covered bybooks vegetation, were reso we can read Camp. vealed. them too! the hardworking efforts of the fire crews Norton’s Landing was spared from the fire, but it did burn through Hoge Ranch as it worked its way to Catfish Cove where it extinguished itself. Photos by Sue Barney The charred remains at 4-S Beach Camp are mute testimony to the impact of the Island ABDSP Ranger Josh Heitzman (above) Fire. Remarkedly, the other two shade rama- heads out to make sure the Memorial Weekdas and composting toilets were untouched. end crowds stay away from closed areas. The party goes on in spite of the charred When mining was active in the area, Paddle- landscape (below). wheeler Boat-In Camp was a ferry crossing that was used to supply the mines and ranches on the Arizona side of the river. The fire revealed a large hill on the Arizona side with large metal hooks where the ferry cable used to be secured. Supplies brought by vehicle to Picacho were transferred here by ferry and then driven to Norton’s Landing and Hoge Ranch. Due to Page 14 There is proof: terror bird flew at ABDSP Many volunteers have returned to cooler areas for the summer, but it is still hard to get a spot in the parking area. Volunteers are hard at work on data entry and continuing the work on the invertebrate collection. The Kidwell invertebrate collection was identified this past season by two experts, Astrid Montiel and N. Scott Rugh. Now that we know what is in that collection, the following steps in the curation sequence are in the process of being carried out. All descriptive information about the specimens and the localities from has been entered into the database. Now labels, which are placed inside the boxes that hold specimens, are being printed and emplaced. For years those labels have been hand written, introducing innumerable typographic errors and creating many challenges to those reading them. Labels printed by computer and presenting information from the database are very easy to read, are fully informative and typographic errors are greatly reduced. This is a huge, complex project, with about 3,500 labels to be printed and placed. While the volunteers are doing this, they are also checking the specimens in the trays to be certain that the data on the labels matches objects in the trays. Senior Park Aide Arnie Mroz led several field trips to investigatee some slightly off-topic questions and localities, especially regarding rocks, minerals, metamorphic and recently deposited sediments. The trips’ goals included searches for metamorphic rocks containing possible conodonts (early vertebrates), zircons (ancient minerals used to determine sources of sediments), unusual rock types and recent flooding and sedimentation processes. The Desert Research Symposium at Zzyzx in April, showcased an important ABDSP fossil. In addition to writing an article for the Borrego Sun, Paleontology Society Volunteer Sue VesBy Lou Bahar cera presented a talk at the symposium on the Paleontology Society "terror bird." Excerpts from the Borrego Sun article follow. “A fossil bird beak found in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in the 1960s has recently been re-identified as belonging to a “terror bird,” six-foot-tall, flightless bird with a massive head and large beak in the family Phorusrhacidae. The birds roamed in South America from 62 to about 2 million years ago. It appears that during the Great American Biotic Interchange, when the Isthmus of Panama closed and joined the two continents, terror birds moved to North America. “Terror bird specimens from a genus identified as Titanis walleri have been found only in the Gulf coast areas of Florida and Texas. Now California can be added to their territory. The beak is part of the collection of fossils found in ABDSP and housed in the District’s Stout Research Center. “In 1972 paleontologist Hildegard Howard assigned the beak to Teratornithidae, a family of large condor-like birds. Since 2004 the beak was on loan to bird paleontologist Robert M. Chandler from Georgia College in Milledgeville, Georgia, who has worked with the Gulf coast Titanis specimens. From his examination of the beak he concluded it was that of a phorusrhacid. Since Titanis is the only genus of that family known in North America, Chandler has called it a Titanis beak. “In 2012 Chandler communicated his findings to George T. Jefferson, District Paleontologist Emeritus. The beak’s new identification and its implications are the subject of a scientific paper that was delivered at the 27th Annual Desert Symposium held at the California State University’s Desert Studies Center in Zzyzx. The paper was written by George and co-authored by Robert M. Chandler, Paleontology Society Volunteer Lowell Lindsay and me. (Continued on Page 15) Page 15 Michael Guberek is a winning liar (cont.) (Continued from Page 14) “Placing Titanis in California represents a significant extension of its habitat range; in addition, dated at 3.7 million years old, the beak may be the oldest Titanis specimen in the United States, and the presence of the terror bird supports the idea that during the Pliocene Epoch the paleoenvironment of this area was tropical.” On a lighter note, Paleontology Society Volunteer Michael Guberek won second place at the annual Peg Leg Liars Contest in Borrego Springs. He presented a yarn about a mammoth find that covered a pot of Name gold. your favorite Photo by Diana Lindsay Volunteer Ron Pavlu has worked last books so for wethe can read Paleontology Society Volunteer Michael Gutwo years on the fossil land tortoise taken out them too! berek holds the prop he used in his tale of the field in 2011. He has meticulously cleaned about finding Peg Leg’s Gold at the annual and preserved the fossil singlehandedly. Alt- Peg Leg Liars’ contest April 1. Michael rehough several volunteers could assist in the pro- ceived second place. ject, the intricate detail required to remove the sedimentary matrix (surrounding sand, clay and the top of the neck. They are where they beother non-bone matter) from the, sometimes long. I have made bone connection proving this very fragmentary, bone is best performed by a to be the case.” As Ron is working on the carapace he takes single, dedicated individual. It is very difficult to distinguish the matrix from the bone of the car- detailed measurements and photographs to apace and skeleton. Only with consistent work document his progress. He and District Paleonon the specimen can one become aware of the tologist Lyn Murray are documenting the dedifferences. Ron recently submitted a report on composition of the shell to learn how it broke down and became partially dispersed prior to the progress of 'Shelly' the tortoise. In his latest report, Ron writes, “Well, after burial. The top of Shelly’s shell broke loose and 163 hours invested in Shelly, I am pleased to was displaced from the main shell, sliding severannounce that I have gone full circle. Looking al feet down-slope, prior to final burial. Curtis White is working on this second down from the top, one can see a ring of tatblock of shell. It is composed of various pieces tered bone outlining the oval shape of the carapace. For those who may not know, I have re- of bony carapace, as well as the dermal ossicles covered an insect shell/case from one of the (protective bony armor in the skin) that covmany holes that have been bored into Shelly. ered a limb bone. It is delicate work to sepaWe do not have it identified as of this writ- rate bone elements or fragments that are ening. Most importantly … the front peripheral cased in the matrix without disturbing ones bones (these are short and flared out and up next to it. Hopefully, Shelley will provide new inforgiving the shell its sports car look) are not the from the top of the neck that have crushed mation about the decomposition of fossil turtle sideways and down, but are actually the periph- shells, which will be informative to the general erals that start from that side and progress to scientific paleontology community. TRACKS Colorado Desert District 200 Palm Canyon Drive Borrego Springs, CA 92004 TRACKS Dan Falat, District Superintendent Leslie Bellah, TRACKS Editor Colorado Desert District Newsletter Borrego Colorado Desert District Springs, CA 92004 (760) 767-4037 Fax: (760) 767-3427 E-mail: [email protected] Anza-Borrego Sector……………………………………..………….....…….....Kathy Dice, Superintendent Anza-Borrego Desert State Park® Montane Sector…………..…………………….……..Ray Lennox and Brent Hufford Management Team; Dan Falat, Law Enforcement/Public Safety Management Cuyamaca Rancho State Park Palomar Mountain State Park Salton Sea Sector………………………………………....……...………Kathy Dice, Acting Superintendent Indio Hills Palms Picacho State Recreation Area Salton Sea State Recreation Area