February Update: Successful SOLOS Saturday; Approaching 1000; and Life on the Blue Oak Savanna
SOLOS Saturday at the Back Lakes a Huge Success! Closing in on 1000 Members!!
Happy New Year Everyone!
The SOLOS Saturday walk around the back lakes held on Saturday, February 10th, was a huge success. SOLOS added 60 new members bringing our total membership to 980 residents. New members signing up at the Saturday walk were so enthusiastic about joining SOLOS, and they were totally supportive of all that SOLOS is doing to find ways to protect our water and preserve our lakes, open spaces, trails, and wildlife habitat. An informal count taken of those that visited the lake trails added up to over 300 walkers, joggers, bikers, and dog escorts. It was a beautiful day and so good to see so many folks out enjoying the lakes and open spaces of our special Rancho Murieta wilderness environment - just minutes from our house.
Why is 1000 important?
We've been pushing to hit 1000 members for a few months, and you may be wondering why that number matters. Sure, one THOUSAND sounds cool, but what else? In our small Rancho Murieta community, we have approximately 2400 homes and about 6000 residents. A membership of 1000 residents working towards a common goal should get the attention of our elected officials and represent a strong voting block on issues we care about. The agreement of so many tells our elected officials and community leaders that this is a cause that is clearly important. So tell your neighbors: help us preserve our Rancho Murieta lifestyle by joining today! It's free and easy. Sign up here, or send your contact info to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Mighty Oaks… Another Gift for Us All Living in Rancho Murieta
California Blue Oaks and Valley Oaks are abundant in Rancho Murieta, especially in the open space acreage around our back lakes. These are rare and protected trees forming even rarer oak canopies that spread out over the rolling hills all the way to and through the Deer Creek Conservancy.
California oaks have an integral place in the history of California. For a thousand generations, the Native Americans needed the trees for food, and the oaks were, as they are now, crucial in the support of hundreds of wildlife species that live on and under them. However, the 20th century was hard on the oaks, especially the oak savannas of the Central Valley, as settlers and farmers cleared them for agriculture.
Early naturalists and explorers described the landscapes of the valleys of California with wonder at and awe of the huge oaks that provided the only shade and were central to the eco-system. “The California Oaks Coalition estimates the state has lost more than 1 million acres of oak-related lands over the past seven decades,” (Flora, vol. 1, no. 2, Winter 2018). We in Rancho Murieta and the surrounding Deer Creek Hills have one of the last surviving Blue Oak savannas. We are so lucky to be able to view their image of strength and resilience on a daily basis. We should appreciate not only their beauty, but also what they do for our environment. With minimal effort, we could be their stewards and protectors.
Robin Grossinger of the San Francisco Estuary Institute states that, “Climate change’s effects have heightened the value of native oaks. Studies show they store carbon better than most other California trees. They provide welcome shade, have deep roots, are drought-tolerant and relatively fire-resistant, an ideal tree for the 21st century needs.” Dan Glusenkamp, executive director of the California Native Plant Society, says that removing native trees like the oaks, stimulates invasive weeds and increases the chance of fire. He is leading a re-oak campaign for the lands around the Santa Rosa area that were devastated by the recent fires and says that the native trees have an individualized DNA to perfectly adapt to the environment where they evolved.
These experts agree that saving native oaks is essential for a healthy environment. Too many have been lost to development and agriculture. Saving Our Lakes and Open Spaces (SOLOS) supports the view that we in Rancho Murrieta have a responsibility to protect our oak savanna as much as possible. Glusenkamp even suggests collecting acorns and following a very proscribed protocol to plant and nurture them in order to counter the effects of fire and wildlife and cattle from grazing on the young oak trees.
SOLOS feels that we in Rancho Murieta can be instrumental in preserving our oaks from the machines of development. It’s good to remember that oaks are the homes to many species; they are part of the ground water filtration system; they store carbon at a high level, which leads to cleaner air, cooler temperatures, and enhanced public health. In addition, they provide beauty, shade, and a steadfast presence in this era of rapid environmental and social change. Join SOLOS in preserving the oaks we are privileged to have all around us.