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Join us for National Public Lands Day Sept. 29th!
Service & Hiking in the Carrizo Plains
Sept. 29-30, 2012 (Sat. & Sun.)
Carrizo Plain National Monument
Trip Leader: Craig Deutsche
September is a special month for our public lands. On September 28th, 1984, the California Wilderness Act and the Tuolumne Wild and Scenic River Act were signed into law, protecting over three million acres of California's wild lands and more than 70 miles of the Tuolumne River. And on September 29th, we celebrate National Public Lands Day by lending a helping hand to take care of our public lands. Please join us in the Carrizo Plain on September 29th!
The Carrizo Plain, located between California’s central valley and the coast at San Luis Obispo, is one of the little known wonders of our state. The central plain is dry open grassland with the (dry) Soda Lake at its center. To the west are the Caliente Mountains rising to 5000 feet. A major branch of the San Andreas Fault runs along the base of the Temblor Range immediately on the east of the plain. When winter rainfall is sufficient shorebirds gather in Soda Lake. At all times of year raptors can be seen on fence posts and soaring over the plain.
The area became a National Monument in January, 2001. The specific intent of this act was to protect habitat for an unusually large number of endangered species. While visitors are welcome, there has been no significant effort to publicize the monument or to provide special accommodations. A management plan for the Monument was adopted early in 2010, and this event is one of the opportunities for volunteers to assist in the implementation of the plan. This outing also allows us to see the plains first-hand, and to consider its future.
Saturday, September 29, is National Public Lands Day when federal land managers all over the country organize volunteer events in their area. We will be participating in this work with a number of other organizations and individuals. The tentative plan is to build a rail fence in a back-country area to prevent vehicle access to an area with resources in need of protection The Friends of Carrizo Plain organization provides lunch for the volunteers. One of the benefits of the weekend will be working along side other persons and groups who are committed to the area.
Our trip will officially begin at the KCL campground in the Monument 10 AM on Saturday morning, September 29. The trip leader will be staying there Friday evening, and anyone who wishes to join then is welcome (see below for contact info). Bring work gloves, but other equipment and instruction will be provided by the monument staff. We will be car camping for the weekend, but conditions are primitive, so plan on bringing all the water that you will need for the weekend. We will be staying at the KCL campground on Saturday evening as well.
For those that are available and interested, trip leader Craig Deutsche
will be leading a hike in the Monument on Friday, Sept. 28. The meeting for this will be at the KCL Campground at 8:00 AM. Almost certainly it would be convenient for hikers to meet Thursday evening at this campground rather than plan a long drive Friday morning. Directions for reaching the campground are given below. This hike is optional and entirely for recreation
Sunday, September 30, is reserved for sightseeing in the monument. We may be able to visit Painted Rock, a well known rock art site. We may drive to the ridge of the Caliente Mountains for a long view over the plain. Certainly we will make a stop along Soda Lake on our way to the Wallace Creek site on the San Andreas Fault. Pictures of this site appear in every introductory geology book published in our country. It is a spectacle that everyone living in California ought to see for themselves. There are a number of old ranch sites with rather amazing collections of rusting farm machinery from the 30s and 40s which we may have time to visit. Binoculars are useful for bird watching, and of course we will hope to see the pronghorn. If the group is large we may be able to split the group with some visiting the better known tourist spots and others taking a longer day hike in the low mountains.
TO GET THERE
To reach our meeting place from the south, you will travel either east or west on state highway 166. If you are coming from the east, you will begin at the junction of 166 with Interstate 5. You travel about 20 miles westward on 166 to the town of Maricopa and then approximately another 10 miles west to the well-signed junction with Soda Lake Road. There is an abandoned Union gas station here. If you are coming from the west you would join 166 along U.S. 101 just a few miles north of Santa Maria. The junction with Soda Lake Road is perhaps 15 miles farther east from the very tiny town of Cuyama (not New Cuyama). When you reach Soda Lake Road go north for about 20 miles. The greater part of this distance is graded gravel. The KCL campground is along this road, is well signed, and is also marked by a large historic water wagon.
To reach our meeting place from the north, you travel either east or west on state highway 58. From the east you would join 58 at its intersection with Interstate 5, go west through Buttonwillow and through McKittrick and then another 30 miles or so to Soda Lake Road. (There is a shortcut on this route but I recommend it only if you consult with me by phone.) From the west you would join 58 at the town of Santa Margarita a few miles north of San Luis Obispo and drive east to Soda Lake Road. After reaching Soda Lake road you would travel about 15 miles south to the Goodwin Education Center and than another 10 miles (approximately) the the KCL campground. From the north the campground is about six miles beyond (south from) the Washburn/Panorama junction. The campground is well signed and there is a large historic water wagon at the entrance as well.
Obviously a good highway map of California is necessary. The DeLorme Atlas is very good for this purpose. Please let trip leader Craig Deutsche know your plans in advance so that we will be prepared to meet you, and so that he may inform you of our meeting plans and any late changes in schedule that might occur. Craig will be staying at the KCL Campground on Thursday and Friday evenings, and if others wish to join, this may make the drive to Carrizo Plain and to the morning meeting times more convenient.
There is no place to buy gasoline in the monument. Be certain to fill your gas tank at the last moment either along highway 101 or along Interstate 5 as you approach the monument.
We will be car camping. Bring what makes you comfortable. There is no water available to the public within the monument, so bring what you will need for the weekend. Make your own arrangements, either individually, or with others for food and cooking.
We will plan on a potluck meal for Saturday night. Bring a dish of some kind to feed perhaps six persons.
It is possible (but very unlikely) that temperatures at night would be chilly. Work shoes and gloves are on needed Saturday. If you wish to hike on Sunday, then bring good hiking shoes or boots, bring a day pack with the usual equipment, and bring two or three liters of water for the hike. Site-seeing by car on Sunday needs no special equipment. I will have any and all maps that we need.
RESERVE YOUR SPOT
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