Southern Sierran

Newsletter of the Sierra Club Angeles Chapter
November 2019

Going Native: A California Native Landscape Story

By C. Robin Smith (Photo by C. Robin Smith)

Environmentalism is trendy these days.
The topic is even so politically divisive, sensible conversations can elude us.

You Can't See The Forest For The Chaparral

By John Monsen (Photo by John Monsen)

Most of our mountains in Southern California are covered predominately by chaparral, a unique shrubland plant community that thrives in our hot, dry summers and mild, wet winters. Chaparral, so typical in Southern California, only occurs in Mediterranean climates like ours, its namesake locale, and a few other places in the world.

The Angeles National Forest, home to the San Gabriel Mountains, is three-quarters covered by chaparral. Typical plant species include ceanothus, chamise, manzanita and many others. The thick plant cover provided by chaparral protects the steep terrain of the San Gabriels from erosion. Chaparral makes for spectacular critter habitat.

Chaparral ecosystems are under threat from climate disruption, increasing fire frequency, and ever encroaching development.

More on Chaparral and Wildfire

Fire Recovery

Fire Recovery: Nature Knows Best

By Susan Jelus (Photo by James Fitzgerald on Unsplash)

Last January, at the direction of Governor Newsom, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) quickly issued a report that listed 35 high-priority fire prevention projects to be completed immediately, before the 2019 fire season. It recommended the suspension of environmental regulation in order to implement the projects. The governor then proclaimed a state of emergency and immediate implementation of the projects, many of which involved clearing land of vegetation. But less than a year later, experts are embracing fire safety approaches that start with people more than with vegetation. The focus of 2019 California legislation is on fire safety through home construction design and materials, defensible space around existing homes, and community education, more than promoting fire safety by thinning forests and chaparral.

After a disaster like a fire, people often rush to repair what has been destroyed. That’s a natural, human response. But rushing to clear and replant after a wildfire could make things worse, not better. It is better to study the problem, weigh the options, and consult scientists and other experts before taking action. To help Californians understand the issues in fire recovery, the California Native Plant Society (CNPS) has released a 92-page, Fire Recovery Guide.

Keep Learning About Fire Recovery

Santa Fe DamSanta Fe Dam: A Hidden Jewel of Southern California

By Ann Croissant

It has been said, the best way to remember a place you have never been to is to visualize it in your mind’s eye. Santa Fe Dam, I’m sure you have driven by dozens of times without making an effort to look until you really see: the unusual habitat, the history (early California and contemporary scientific), the unique plant community (the rarest in Los Angeles County), even the trails that criss-cross the park (the regional Trails Compass).

“Santa Fe Dam Recreational Area” is nestled at the foot of the San Gabriel Mountains and is considered one of the many hidden jewels of Southern California. This 836-acre facility is an element of the Los Angeles County Drainage Area flood control system. The Nature Center is also home to many protected native plants and animals, and ir offers educational, interpretive and walking tours throughout the year.

Check It Out

Will McWhinney

Volunteer Spotlight - Will McWhinney

By Krystal Ruiz

Lover of all things nature, William McWhinney is well known in the Angeles Chapter for leading a series of beginner hikes and connecting people with the outdoors.

Will started hiking over 30 years ago with friends, but their casual nature walks were not enough to satisfy his thirst for adventure so he turned to the Wilderness Travel Course (WTC) to learn backpacking skills that would aid him in his solo outings.

The WTC eventually lead Will to the Sierra Club Angeles Chapter where he’s had the pleasure of leading trips and outings for the last 21 years, but he is best known for being the outings chair, often leading local and urban hikes for beginners.

Will has been apart of the Sierra Club ever since, organizing special events, including the Sunset Poetry Hikes at Griffith Park and the Zero Emissions hikes in Baldwin Hills.

Will's Great Story

Bob Cates Autumn colors of buckwheat and bunchgrass on Pinyon Ridge

Travel Adventures

NOV. 15 - 23, 2019
There's no better way to explore the Caribbean than with the Angeles Chapter Travel Adventurers aboard the Royal Caribbean Empress of the Seas. We set sail from Miami: going to Key West, Florida, Cozumel, and Puerto Costa Maya, Mexico and Grand Cayman! There will be three days at sea and disembark in Miami. More info and RSVP Here

MAY. 15 - 22, 2020
Travel with your Sierra Club friends to see the "wilder" side of Alaska! Come cruise aboard the Radiance of the Seas from Vancouver, B.C. to Seward, AK. Sailing through the Inside Passage. More info and RSVP Here

MAY. 22 - 30, 2020
You can extend your Voyage Alaska Cruise (May 15-22, 2020) or meet us in Anchorage. Experience the Call of the Wild on a seven night/eight day fully escorted charter coach trip from Anchorage to Talkeetna, Denali National Park and back to Anchorage for a fun slice of urban life, Alaska style. More info and RSVP Here

AUGUST. 22 - 30, 2020
Join us for a grand tour of four National Parks in the Canadian Rockies, Banff, Jasper, Kootenay and Yoho on our expanded trip with eight nights in Canada. On the last night, you will see the Fireworks Finale of the Calgary Globalfest 2020 International Fireworks. More info and RSVP Here

NOV. 4 - 18, 2020
Join us for a ten-day, nine-night tour to see the wonders of ancient Egypt. Our tour will be led by an English speaking Egyptologist. In Cairo, you will see the pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx, Egyptian Museum of Antiquities, Citadel of Saladin, the Mosque of Muhammad Ali one of the grand mosques of Cairo, the Temple of Philae and visit to the worlds oldest marketplace. More info and RSVP Here

California Sellers of Travel # CST 2087766-40
Registration as a seller of travel does not constitute approval by the State of California.

Program: Amargosa Desert and a Geological Focal Point | November 6, 2019
Geologist Bill Neill presents "Amargosa Desert and a Geological Focal Point". -- The barren and colorful Amargosa desert southeast of Death Valley is a geologist's playground and important ecologically because of perennial water flow through Amargosa Canyon. RSVP & Details

Upper Franklin Canyon Walk | November 11, 2019
Easy paced hike around Franklin Canyon Lake and heavenly pond including several nature trails.

Winter Skills Class | November 13, 2019
Come join the OCSS and the Sierra Sage for this fun and free evening class in which experienced Sierra Club leaders will discuss the subject of winter sports. RSVP & Details

Meet and Greet " Learn and Restore" | November 23, 2019
Join the Angeles Chapter Volunteer Program for a Meet & Greet at the Santa Fe Dam Nature Center. RSVP & Details

Huntington Beach Wetlands-Banning Ranch Walk | November 23, 2019
Join us on a 3 mi, approximately 3-hour tour of this seldom explored area of southeast Huntington Beach. RSVP & Details

Glendale Evening Urban Walk | November 29, 2019
Burn off the Thanksgiving Calories with a walk through the Glendale Forrest Lawn. RSVP & Details

Find Your Park: Exploring America's Lesser Known Parks | December 3, 2019
Did you know there are 61 designated National Parks in the United States? Come join WTC Staff Member Krista Muscarella at REI Manhattan Beach for a presentation on America's Lesser Known National Parks! RSVP & Details

Forty Fifth Annual Hawaiian Islands Eco-Adventure Trip to the Big Island | June 20 - 27, 2020
In 8 days experience the unique and outstanding natural beauty of The Big Island- the active volcanoes, beaches, reefs, amazing sea life and cultural sites. Details

For more trips view our Featured Outings

Looking for more adventures, outings and events? Check out our Schedule of Activities  or the full list.

Donate Your Vehicle: Angeles Chapter Sierra Club

Donate Your Vehicle Online or call us at 844-6-SIERRA or 844-674-3772. Specify that you support the Angeles Chapter. We will tow your vehicle at no cost to you. Get a tax-deductible receipt and help our cause. We accept all types of vehicles.

[Header photo: Autumn colors of buckwheat and bunchgrass on Pinyon Ridge, © Bob Cates, all rights reserved]