December 2014


Updated Web Site
As a fitting symbol of welcome to the new year, our updated and completely revamped MMPC website went “live” very early 01/01/2014. The power of its new WordPress format was wonderfully proven all throughout this past amazing year. New formats, layouts, search tools, clear links and additions made our award winning website even better than ever. And, one of the most exciting changes, is that the MMPC website can now be read using mobile devices! This means you can read the monthly news … at a glance … from your cell phone. Many thanks and kudos go to Lynn Watson, our web site manager, for all the hours and hard work it took to bring about this transformation of our site. For full details see the January 2014 News.

More Mesa Symposium
The second More Mesa Symposium was held at Bren Hall of UCSB on March 15th. Feedback was overwhelmingly positive and the day greatly appreciated by all. Attendees heard a variety of papers by a team of experienced environmentalists including: Wayne Ferren on ecology, John Storrer on raptors, and Dan Gira on the potential for development of More Mesa. Displays told several additional More Mesa stories, and our Speaker Panel Discussion gave the community an opportunity to ask questions of this prestigious group of More Mesa experts.

For those who were unable to attend, as well as those who want to review the presentations they heard, the entire 2014 Symposium is available on our web site. These six separate videos include, a brief introduction to the Symposium, four presentations from experts on More Mesa and the Panel Discussion that ended the morning session. Symposium presentations may be found in the “Events” section here.

More Mesa Forever Campaign
MMPC has become aware that several proposals are currently being evaluated for development of More Mesa. And although the owner has not yet elected to go forward with any of these proposals, a decision may be made in the near future.

This intelligence led us to launch the More Mesa Forever Campaign last fall. With this campaign we will develop a public/private partnership that will permit us to purchase More Mesa and establish a plan to continue its broad and diverse use, its sound maintenance and also improve its wildlife habitat. We have taken the lead in the first stage of this campaign, which we call the Ready Position. We truly believe that now is the time to act quickly to preserve More Mesa, “the last great place” in Santa Barbara, for our children, for the wildlife, and forever.

Plans for the 2015

  • Complete the three remaining critical steps in the “Getting Ready” Phase of our More Mesa Forever campaign. These are:
    • Enlist a volunteer grassroots force of 1000 or more supporters. (We are already very close to this support level.)
    • Establish critical relationships with county and state decision-makers and funders.
    • Develop both a plan to save More Mesa and a citizen-driven plan for its use.
    • Raise $25,000 in seed money for this effort. (Thanks to caring and generous friends, we have already raised the seed money.)
  • Continue working with More Mesa’s owner in a manner that not only protects the biological, aesthetic and recreational resources of More Mesa, but also addresses his interests, as well as those of other More Mesa stakeholders.

As always … thank you all for your wonderful support, and for loving this very special place.
Our warmest holiday wishes,
Valerie Olson,
More Mesa Preservation Coalition.

Thanks to John Bailey for the photo of a White-tailed Kite on More Mesa.

November 2014

More Mesa Symposium Online

Many supporters who were unable to attend the 2014 More Mesa Symposium have inquired about obtaining a video of the presentations. And many who did attend have been interested to review what they saw and heard.

These are just two of the many reasons we are extremely pleased to announce that the entire 2014 Symposium is now available on our web site. The six separate videos include, a brief introduction to the Symposium, four presentations from experts on More Mesa:

  • Ecology – Wayne Ferren
  • Raptors – John Storrer
  • History – Valerie Olson
  • Development – Dan Gira

… and the Panel Discussion that ended the morning session.

These talks may be found in the “Events” section of the More Mesa Preservation Coalition web site at /symposium-2014-videos/.

We hope that all of you who care about More Mesa will find these important educational resources filled with useful and interesting information. From them we can take enormous pride in the desire of our community to preserve this unique and cherished part of our South Coast world.


October 2014

Of late, there has been a flurry of articles about the caves located in the cliffs on the west side of More Mesa.  These stories have been precipitated by a recent and unfortunate incident of a young man being severely injured by a falling rock in one of these caves.  While we cannot offer solutions to prevent this from ever occurring again, we can offer some fact-based scientific information about why it is extremely dangerous and unwise to traverse down to the beach or visit, and especially linger, in any of these caves.

Geology Facts:  The cliffs of More Mesa are distinctly different on the east and west sides.  The east side cliffs consist of Monterey Shale, a clay formation that is 6-18 million years old.  This section of the cliff erodes slowly and its 100 foot drop to the beach below is along a sloping grade.

However, the west side of the cliff face is of the Santa Barbara Formation, a younger sedimentary formation of marine sand that is only 700,000 years old. (The big blobby tar seeps oozing onto the More Mesa beach are from the Santa Barbara formation.)

This younger material erodes very quickly.  Indeed, sea cliff retreat in the Santa Barbara Formation has been demonstrated to be about 10 inches a year, the highest rate observed along this portion of the South Coast. What this all means is that the western cliff is steep, unstable and unpredictable.  Further …

• The western cliff should never be used to access the beach
• Visitors to More Mesa beach should never use areas close to the western cliffs
• The caves should never be occupied.

One further cautionary note … when it starts raining again, do not use the trail closest to the cliff face after a rain.  It may disappear as you are admiring the view.  Please be careful!

County of SB Website: Offshore Geology of Santa Barbara County

September 2014

California is in a state of “Extreme Drought”, with 2014 being the driest year since 1895, 119 years ago! But, in spite of this disastrous condition, one can still observe some native wildflowers in bloom on More Mesa. For example, Deerweed, which normally blooms from March to October, has been in flower constantly for more than a year. Heavily populating the east-west coastal trail, it most likely prospers in this severe drought because it is a plant that is able to survive on the moisture left behind from the many fogs that visit us in spring and summer.

Deerweed, also known as California Broom, is not only resourceful, but has a fascinating adaptation. This dainty, native Chaparral plant has a clever way of attracting pollinators to the correct flowers. Beginning yellow, the flowers turn red after pollination.  Bees cannot see the color red, so it keeps them from wasting time on flowers that have already been visited.

In addition to the non-native honeybee, Deerweed flowers are pollinated by native bees in the Bombus, Hoplitus, Osmia, Agapostemon, Anthophora, Habropoda, and Anthidium  genera. [1] Deerweed is pollinated by butterflies (nectar source), and also serves as a host plant to many species of butterfly larvae. Once the flowers have been pollinated, the resulting seeds provide food for birds and rodents. Lastly, per its name, deer feed on the plant, where they are found together.


August 2014

Reptiles and Amphibians: In the past we have highlighted many of the biological resources found on More Mesa: birds, plants, mammals and, in last month’s update, our colorful insects, the butterflies. So it seems timely that the recent finding of a very long Gopher Snake shed should prompt this month’s discussion of the reptiles and amphibians of More Mesa.

More Mesa is thought to support at least 22 species of reptiles and amphibians. Reptiles occur throughout all the habitats and include common species such as the Western Fence Lizard, Western King Snake, Gopher Snake and Slender Salamander, as well as sensitive species such as the Southwestern Pond Turtle. (Gopher Snakes as long as 8 feet have been observed on More Mesa.) On the other hand, amphibian species are concentrated within wetland and riparian areas and include the Western Toad, Arboreal Salamander and Pacific Tree Frog.

Gopher Snakes as long as 8 feet have been seen on More Mesa.