December 2011

As another fairly quiet year on More Mesa draws to a close, and as has been our custom, we offer highlights of 2011.

  • Updated Biological Resources Study
    More than eighteen months after field work for the Updated Biological Resources Study was completed, a draft report was issued by Santa Barbara County. The 429 page report, prepared by Rincon Consultants, concludes More Mesa is just as environmentally sensitive as was reported in the original 1981 study by UCSB.  Details of the report can be found here. In general, Rincon found the following:

    • An equivalent assemblage of plants and plant species
    • More bird species.
    • Kite activity on More Mesa is just as important as ever, especially from a regional perspective.
    • Kite prey are abundant.
    • Wetlands persist in the same areas as previously reported, and are more extensive.
  • More Mesa For Sale
    As we have reported for several years, More Mesa remains for sale, with the asking price still at $40 Million.  As far as we know, it has not been sold.  As always, we will keep you informed of any developments in this area.

  • Vernal Pool Feature
    In May of this year we introduced a new “Vernal Pool” feature on our web site here. This feature includes general information on vernal pools (definition, life forms in pools etc.) and some specific details on vernal pools of California, Santa Barbara and More Mesa.

As always, thank you all for your wonderful support, and for loving this very special place.
Our warmest holiday wishes.

More Mesa Native Plants – December
Deerweed Dune Primrose
deerweed beach primrose

Deerweed is a small branching perennial shrub growing to a height of about three to four feet. It is drought tolerant, helps to reduce erosion, and is often one of the first pioneer species after a fire, before it is eventually replaced by other natives. It is found in coastal strand, coastal sage scrub and chaparral below 5000′, from Baja California to Humboldt County.

As a member of the pea family, Deeerweed is able to fix nitrogen. The flowers are typical of the pea family, with yellow flowers that bloom starting from the first rains through August.

The flowers are attractive to many butterflies such as Silvery Blue, Gray Hairstreak, Acmon Blue, Funereal Duskywing, Orange Sulfur, and Bramble Hairstreak (in photo).

Dune or Beach Evening Primrose grows naturally on beach dunes, and thus requires well-drained sandy soils. It is low spreading, with a maximum height of about sixteen inches. It can take both full sun and partial shade, and is drought-tolerant.

Flowering for several months from the first rains to August, it opens during the day, and thrives over a wide range of weather conditions (foggy to sunny). As the blooms die, they turn an attractive orange. The leaves are grayish-green.

This plant grows in the southwest corner of More Mesa where marine sands have been-deposited by the wind creating a “coastal dune scrub habitat” that includes other plants typical of that habitat type.

November 2011

Plant List
An online plant list for More Mesa has now been compiled and loaded onto the web site. The entries on the list are derived from the 1982 and 2010 Biological Resources Studies, a list from the Santa Barbara Botanic Gardens, and a few other observations. Please click here for the list.

Native Plants Blooming on More Mesa
Whenever possible, the monthly news will feature some of the plants blooming on More Mesa at that time. Plants blooming in November are for the most part those that bloom year round, and are not limited to spring and summer flowerings.

More Mesa Native Plants – November
California Poppy – Coastal Variety California Bush Sunflower
poppy sunflower

California Poppies have showy flowers and fine gray-green leaves. The flowers unfurl from a pointed cap, after which the petals open in sunshine, and close in the evening or cooler weather. Sometimes bees rest in the closed petals overnight. In warmer areas especially with coastal fog, they grow as several-year perennials. This variety is resistant to powdery mildew, and has yellowish edging to the petals. On seeding, the long and pointed capsules twist as they dry, to pop and scatter the seeds.

Bush Sunflower is a perennial shrub growing mostly on coastal bluffs and open slopes in coastal sage scrub and chaparral below 2000 feet. This shrub grows to a height of about four feet. Flowering can start as early as the first rains in fall, and continue through the moist months of spring. Under the right conditions, some flowering can even extend throughout the whole year. In hot and dry conditions, the plant ceases flowering and may lose leaves. Seeds are set during summer, and attract many native birds.

October 2011

It’s All About The Birds

Many different species of birds have been reported on More Mesa in the past few weeks.  In addition to our year-round residents: White Tailed Kites, Red Tailed Hawks, Red Shouldered Hawks and Kestrels, winter visitors are already arriving, as evidenced by the presence of Northern Harrier, Sharp-shinned Hawk and Say’s Phoebe during the month of September. Red-winged Blackbirds frequent the west side, especially near a large bird-feeder in the garden of a home abutting More Mesa.

We truly appreciate the sightings reports provided by those of our supporters who are also bird enthusiasts.  THANKS SO MUCH!

American Kestrel and Sharp-shinned Hawk on More Mesa

September 2011

Stories of More Mesa
Last month we shared one of our “Stories of More Mesa”; stories that tell the world what More Mesa means to the people who cherish it.  This month we present a second story, a different story, but the same theme. (If you, too, have a story you would like to share, please contact us here.)

In my “other life” when I held a job, raised three kids and lived in the hustle and bustle of L.A., I hurried off to the mountains, the desert, or an peaceful seaside community every chance I could.  I drove one way for 5-20 hours, threw out a sleeping bag, slept, hiked, climbed, ran rivers and reveled in the wilderness … trees, free flowing rivers, wild flowers, wild animals and magnificent birds.  There were few structures, no traffic, few people and the whole outdoors to admire, appreciate and soak in. Now that I am twice as old as I was then, I still need the wilderness I sought in that other life.  But, my body is not as willing to jump into cars and drive 20 hours, sleep on the ground, climb, hike or run rivers.  But it’s more than happy to walk on More Mesa.  And although there are places where houses can be seen, there are also many places where you see only the mountains and the ocean.  And there are trees and wild flowers and wild animals.  There are magnificent oaks, incredible raptors, snakes, coyotes, foxes, raccoons, skunks and bobcats. I can feel the rhythm of the seasons, the wind, the sun, and experience the quiet.  In short, it feels just like a wilderness … a wilderness in my backyard.


August 2011

Stories of More Mesa
Over the past year or so, we have been collecting stories from folks who regularly use More Mesa.  These stories describe what More Mesa means to those who cherish it.  This month we share one of our most favorite ones with you. (If you, too, have a story you would like to share, please contact us here.)

As anyone who knows me can probably tell, I have fallen in love with More Mesa.  I walk there when I am happy, when I am sad, when I want to be inspired – whenever.  And every time I walk there, I see something new that I never saw before.   It is truly an amazing place!

eveningbaby kite