Posted by: Sandy Steinman | November 22, 2017

California Fall Color – updated 11/22/17

California Fall Color reports

Ventana Wilderness – Pine Valley and the Ventana Wilderness in Monterey County this past Sunday to find that most of the ponderosa pines, several of the larger landmark black oaks and cottonwoods there survived the Soberanes Fire. The latter are carrying bright orange and golden color.
Tassajara Road, a dirt road that leads to the trailhead at China Camp, also full of beautiful orange black oaks.
the Ventana Wilderness at Peak and advises that the area is prime for fall color hikes over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, making Pine Valley in the Ventana Wilderness Hike of the Week.
Ventana Wilderness, Monterey County – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!

Berkeley = California Fall Color also has a photo I took from this past weekend’s Berkeley Half-Marathon

Berkeley Half-Marathon on Gilman Street

Berkeley/Bay Area – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!  Many of Berkeley Street trees are at peak. Especially colorful are Chinese Pistache Tree, Liquidamber and Persimmon Trees. See my post from two days ago Fall Color in Berkeley and California Fall Color’s post GIVE THANKS, THE BAY AREA IS PEAKING


Posted by: Sandy Steinman | November 22, 2017

How Natural Disasters Further Threaten Endangered Species

The New York Times  reported on the impact of natural disasters including Fires and Hurricanes on endangered species

When a wildfire swept through Arizona, all but 35 rare red squirrels disappeared. After California’s fires and Hurricanes Harvey, Maria and Irma, so did other near-extinct animals.

Read story at  For an Endangered Animal, a Fire or Hurricane Can Mean the End – The New York Times

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | November 21, 2017

Sierra Mountain Pass Road Status Updates

Sonora Pass – SR 108 is officially closed for the winter!

(Monitor Pass – SR 89 is currently OPEN.

Tioga Pass – SR 120 and the Bodie Road SR – 270 are currently closed and will be assesed later on this week.

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | November 21, 2017

Muir Woods To Require Parking & Shuttle Reservations

News Release from National Park Service

Muir Woods Parking and Shuttle Reservations Launch January 16, 2018

MILL VALLEY, Calif. — The National Park Service today announced that parking and shuttle reservations at Muir Woods National Monument will begin on January 16, 2018.

All vehicles and shuttle passengers arriving to Muir Woods will be subject to the reservation system. Visitors arriving by commercial carrier – or on foot or bicycle – will not be required to use the reservation system or pay fees associated with it.

“Making a parking and shuttle reservation will be fast and easy,” said Deputy Superintendent Carey Feierabend. “The new system will improve the overall visitor experience by allowing visitors to plan their trip in advance while enhancing the protection and preservation of the surrounding natural resources.” The system, managed by Ace Parking Management, Inc., will operate year-round and reservations will be made through a website and call center.

The system will launch January 1, at which point parking and shuttle reservations can be made up to 90 days in advance on a rolling basis. Visitors will have the option to reserve either a vehicle parking space for $8 per car or a seat on the shuttle for $3 per adult (16 years and older). A vehicle or shuttle reservation provides the visitor with a timed arrival with no restriction on the length of stay for the remainder of the day. Visitors age 16 or older are required to pay a $10 park admission entrance fee in addition to any parking or shuttle reservation fees.

The reservation system will proactively manage parking and visitor flow to protect the health of Muir Woods and the Redwood Creek watershed and effectively address overcrowding, traffic congestion, and parking issues. Under the new reservation system, annual visitation is expected to be reduced to under one million from an estimated 1.2 million visitors.

Commercial carriers will be required to make advance reservations through a separate system managed through Reservations for commercial parking spaces are anticipated to begin in late spring 2018.

More information can be found at

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | November 20, 2017

Large Number Blue Whales In Monterey Bay

The San Francisco Chronicle reports

The largest animal on planet Earth, blue whales, and the second-largest animal, fin whales, are swimming in the Monterey Bay in large numbers.

Beginning Monday, up to 50 blue whales have been sighted off the coast of Monterey.

Read story and see photos atBlue whales invade Monterey Bay

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | November 19, 2017

Fall Color In Berkeley

A series of photos of fall color seen seen walking around North Berkeley the last two days.

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Posted by: Sandy Steinman | November 19, 2017

Sacramento Fall Color 11/18/17

California Fall Color reports

Each year in the week before Thanksgiving, Sacramento streets are layered with canopies of ruby, crimson, orange, gold, yellow, green and buff-colored leaves.
My favorite locations for seeing fall color in Sacramento County include: Mormon Island Wetland Reserve and bike trails of Folsom, quaint Fair Oaks where chickens run free, East Sacramento’s Fabulous Forties (Gracious Tudor, Colonial Revival, Arts and Crafts, California Bungalow and other grand homes along tree-lined streets numbered in the 40s), William Land Regional Park in South Sacramento and along the American River Parkway (Jedediah Smith Memorial Trail – a 32-mile paved bike and pedestrian trail from the Sacramento River to Folsom Lake).
Sacramento County – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!

See photos at: Sweeping Fall Away

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | November 19, 2017

Pt. Reyes Mushroom Camp 11/24 to 26

Mushroom Camp at Point Reyes National Seashore

Class date / time:  Friday, November 24, 2017 – 6:00pm to Sunday, November 26, 2017 – 2:00pm
Spend a wild and woodsy weekend in the forests of Point Reyes at the height of our local mushroom season. Instructor David Campbell will guide beginning and intermediate mushroom enthusiasts on a series of forays into the rich and diverse wild mushroom habitats all around us. Accommodations included at the Clem Miller Environmental Education Center.
Posted by: Sandy Steinman | November 18, 2017

Where Do Shorebirds Sleep?

Where do shorebirds sleep? Hint: it’s not always at night.

Bay Nature has an article by Clayton Anderson, contributing naturalist with the California Center for Natural History, and Eco-Ed program coordinator for Golden Gate Audubon

To understand how shorebirds like sanderlings and sandpipers sleep— and it’s not necessarily at night! — it helps to understand their habitat.

Read article at  Where Do Shorebirds Sleep?

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | November 17, 2017

Anza-Borrego Wildflowers 11/15/17

DesertUSA reports

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park – A few bushes in bloom along the the lower portion of Grapevine Canyon. See photos at Anza-Borrego Wildflowers

Read more:

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | November 17, 2017

California Fall Color Videos

California Fall Color just posted a number of videos of fall color from this past season at Droning On

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | November 17, 2017

Leonid Meteor Shower Peaks Tonight and Tomorrow

EarthSky reports

November’s wonderful Leonid meteor shower happens every year Around November 17 or 18, as our world crosses the orbital path of Comet Tempel-Tuttle. Like many comets, Tempel-Tuttle litters its orbit with bits of debris. It’s when this cometary debris enters Earth’s atmosphere, and vaporizes, that we see the Leonid meteor shower. In 2017, the peak night of the shower is expected from midnight to dawn on Friday and Saturday mornings (November 17 and 18). Best yet, there is no moon to intrude on the Leonid meteor shower in 2017. Although this shower is known for its periodic storms, no Leonid storm is expected this year. Follow the links below to learn more:

How many Leonid meteors will you see in 2017?

When should you watch for Leonid meteors in 2017?

Where should you watch the meteor shower?

Which direction should I look to see the Leonids?

Will the Leonids produce a meteor storm in 2017?

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | November 17, 2017

Today is National Take A Hike Day


National Take a Hike Day is observed annually on November 17.  With over 60,000 miles of trails in the National Trail System across the 50 states, there is no lack of opportunity to take a hike.

Events around the country are scheduled today to celebrate Take a Hike Day.  Hiking can burn between 400-550 calories per hour. What better way to get a head start on all those ‘other’ holiday temptations and observe Take a Hike Day?  Be sure to wear good shoes, take a snack and bring a buddy, but get out there and enjoy the fresh air, scenery and get a little exercise to boot!

via NATIONAL TAKE A HIKE DAY – November 17 | National Day Calendar

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | November 17, 2017

Record Year for Britain’s Loudest Bird

The Express and Star report

Numbers of “booming” male bitterns hit new highs as once-extinct bird continues to bounce back.

Bitterns, a wetland bird which was extinct in the UK, are booming with populations at a record high, conservationists have said.

The number of “Britain’s loudest bird” increased in 2017, with experts who use the foghorn-like booming call of the males to survey the species counting at least 164 birds at 71 sites, compared to 162 booming males at 78 sites last year.


Posted by: Sandy Steinman | November 16, 2017

The  Environment Cost Of Marijuana

Anthropocene magazine reports on the environment cost Of marijuana

They found that marijuana farms, which by law are not allowed to be larger than one acre, dot the region’s forests like a patchwork. Often crops are planted on land cleared deep in previously-intact groves. This arrangement disrupts the core forest’s ecology.

Read article at Confronting the Environment Cost of Marijuana


Climate-influenced changes in flowering, fruiting also affect bird abundance, activities

“You are what you eat” might give way to “you are when you eat,” based on a new study tracking shifts in Hawaiian bird abundance, breeding and molting based on climate-related changes to native vegetation.

Researchers with the U.S. Forest Service’s Pacific Southwest Research Station recently reviewed extensive climate, vegetation and bird data collected between 1976 and 1982 at a 40-acre monitoring site about 5 miles outside Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park on Hawai’i Island. Their results, “Bottom-up processes influence the demography and life-cycle phenology of Hawaiian bird communities,” were recently published in this month’s issue of Ecology and has implications for future bird population stability in future projected climates.

Read More…

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | November 14, 2017

Butte County Fall Color 11/12/17

California Fall Color reports

This is the week to see Oroville, Durham, Biggs, Chico and Paradise at peak.  The color will likely last through Thanksgiving day (conditions permitting), though not much longer.

  • Oroville’s Sank Park is splashed with yellow gingko, fluorescent Chinese pistache, red-orange redbud and valley oak.
  • Vance Rd. along the Feather River in Biggs is literally dumping leaves of every color.
  • Chinese Pistache along the Midway from Durham north to Chico have transitioned from hot yellow, lime and pink to deep orange and auburn.
  • In Chico, The Esplanade and Main St. are heavy with dark red, orange, yellow and lime color.
  • Paradise is Past Peak, though spots of gold, brown, orange and lime are seen among black and brewers oak.
    Butte County – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
    See photos at BUTTE BEAUTIES
Posted by: Sandy Steinman | November 14, 2017

Sequoia National Forest Fall Color 11/14/17

California Fall Color reports

Peak to Past Peak color north of Kernville in the Sequoia National Forest.
Kern River – Peak to Past Peak – You Almost Missed It.

See photos at Sequoia National Forest – Still Bright

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | November 14, 2017

Jerry Brown, President of the Independent Republic of California

Politico reports on efforts of Jerry Brown and California on fighting climate change

As he crusades across Europe, the governor is acting like the leader of a sovereign country—an alternative to the United States in the Trump era.

Read story at: Jerry Brown, President of the Independent Republic of California

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | November 13, 2017

30 Vaquita Porpoises Are Left. One Died in a Rescue Mission.

The New York Times  reported on the desperate status of the the Vaquita Porpoises and the difficulty in helping them to survive after humans have driven them close to extinction

In the past five years, the vaquita population — which lives in only a sliver of water between Mexico’s mainland and Baja California — has plummeted by 90 percent. Humans are to blame, but they are not even hunting for the vaquitas themselves.

The animals, the world’s smallest porpoises, get tangled and drown in nets set illegally to catch another endangered species, a fish called the totoaba. The poachers’ bounty is an organ from the totoaba called the swim bladder, which is considered a delicacy and status symbol in China and can sell for up to $50,000 on the black market. It has been dubbed “aquatic cocaine.”

Read full story at  30 Vaquita Porpoises Are Left. One Died in a Rescue Mission. – The New York Times

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | November 12, 2017

California Fall Color Updates 11/12/17

California Fall Color  has  a new update

Sierra Foothills – Newtown Road, a route from Placerville to Holly’s Hill in Pleasant Valley is draped with bright yellow and orange from peaking bigleaf maple and black oak.  The Sierra foothills are peaking,
Sierra Foothills – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!

Owens Valley – the Owens Valley, from Bishop south, continues to carry crackling bright orange and yellow color, with cottonwood and rabbitbrush still at peak.
Owens Valley – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!

Redbuds- When it comes to redbud, it’s debatable as to which is prettiest in autumn… East or West.
The eastern variety, cercis canadensis, displays bright gold and green heart-shaped leaves.
Whereas, western redbud, cercis occidentalis, display orange, red, gold and lime heart-shaped leaves.
Both are equally stunning.
Redbud is often overlooked by color spotters who give up looking for great fall color as soon as the forests of aspen have turned,
Western redbud growing along Big Chico Creek in Chico’s Bidwell Park.
Cercis occidentalis are native to the Sierra and North Coast foothills.
In springtime, their showy pink and magenta blossoms grow in clusters all over redbud shrubs that garnish foothill river canyons.
Eastern redbud are a popular landscape and street tree, appreciated for their shape, shade and autumn color (best from late October to early November).
Redbud – Peak (75-100%) – Their range forms an upside down fish hook, leading from the SF Bay Area north through wine country and the Redwood Highway, then bending east through Trinity County to the northern Sierra foothills, then south to the Southern Sierra. GO NOW!
See photos at 

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | November 12, 2017

UC – Berkeley Botanical Garden Fall Photos

I went to the UC Berkeley Botanical Garden this morning to see fall color. As it is a botanic garden with plants from all over the world, the fall color was very mixed. Some trees and shrubs, were past, some were at peak and some were still early. My favorite section the Asian area around a pond is still probably two weeks away from peak. There are also flowers still in bloom. It is also one of the few places you can see Willows across the path from Cactus. It is a sampling of some of the things I saw today.

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Posted by: Sandy Steinman | November 12, 2017

CDFW Expanding Lands Pass Program to Dozens of Properties in 2017-18

Wildflower fans notice that North Table Mt. is on the list. Birders notice Elkhorn Slough Ecological Reserve in Monterey County, Gray Lodge Wildlife Area in Butte County, and a number of other birding hotspots are included.

California Department of Fish and Wildlife announces

CDFW Expanding Lands Pass Program to Dozens of Properties in 2017-18

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is expanding its Lands Pass Program to 41 wildlife areas and ecological reserves this fall and winter and will soon require a CDFW lands pass of all visitors 16 or older. Those carrying a current hunting or fishing license are exempt from this new requirement.

CDFW’s Lands Pass Program began in 1988 as a way to broaden the funding base beyond hunters and anglers to pay for conservation and habitat improvement on some of the state’s most popular and frequently visited wildlife areas and ecological reserves. In 2013, the California Legislature directed CDFW to expand the program to more properties as a way for all visitors to contribute to the management of the places they enjoy and appreciate.

Read More…

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | November 11, 2017

November Meteor Showers

National Geographic  reports


Also in the early morning hours starting after local midnight, look for the second stream of meteors radiating out from the Taurus constellation.



Called the North Taurid Shower, this sky show should send out about a half dozen shooting stars per hour. Remember to be on the look out for unusually bright meteors, too, known as fireballs.


Posted by: Sandy Steinman | November 10, 2017

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Fall Color 11/10/17

Great Smoky Mountains National Park  reports

As the peek leaf viewing season for the Tennessee side of the Smokies begins to wind down, remnant fall colors can still be found scattered throughout the entire national park. North Carolina, though past peek, still has pockets of fall color, especially within the mid to lower elevation ranges within the park.

A drive along Little River Road, Laurel Creek Road, or Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail offers an abundance of color right now as a plethora of brilliantly colored leaves cover the forest floor and is intermittingly dispersed among the canopy. Areas providing excellent sightseeing opportunities with beautiful scenery include the most popular wildlife viewing areas in Cades Cove and Cataloochee.

Suggested easy to moderate rated hikes through hardwood forests include Gregory Ridge Trail, Abrams Falls Trail, Middle Prong Trail, Porters Creeks Trails, Boogerman Trail, and Sutton Ridge Overlook along the Lower Mt. Cammerer Trail. #fallcolorfriday

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | November 10, 2017

Coconino National Forest Fall Color 11/8/17

Coconino National Forest reports

Best Bets

Color is over on the San Francisco Peaks and in full swing in Oak Creek Canyon, and below the Mogollon Rim in the Verde Valley, Strawberry, Pine, and Payson areas. The following recreation opportunities are the best bets for fall color.

  • Oak Creek Canyon: color is starting to drop in upper Oak Creek Canyon, and going strong in lower Oak Creek Canyon. Encinoso, Banjo Bill, and other picnic areas in the canyon are fantastic spots to spend the day. Huckaby, Templeton, and other creekside trails throughout the Red Rock Ranger District are showing fall color.
  • The entire Verde Valley is changing, particularly along riparian areas such as Verde Wild and Scenic River,West Clear Creek, and Wet Beaver Creek.
  • Slide Rock State Park: fall colors are still putting on a show.
  • Crescent Moon Day Use Area: This is a fantastic site for everyone in the family. The site features paved walkways, amenities, access to Oak Creek, and stunning views of Cathedral Rock. Bring a picnic, water shoes, and sunscreen! This is a special fee area ($10 per car or Grand Annual Pass).
  • Woods Canyon: Sycamores and other leafy trees and plants are colorful.
  • Parsons Trail into Sycamore Canyon Wilderness.
  • Sterling Canyon via Sterling Pass Trail to Vultee Arch Trail: Dwarf canyon maples and sumac are turning red, and cottonwoods, sycamores, and grapevines are turning yellow and gold. (Warning: FR 152 to Vultee Arch Trailhead is extremely rough and rocky, and absolutely requires a high clearance, four wheel drive vehicle and off-highway driving experience. We recommend hiking into the canyon on Sterling Pass Trail.)

Read report continues  and see photos at Coconino National Forest 


Posted by: Sandy Steinman | November 10, 2017

California Approves Plan To Save Salton Sea

The Associated Press reports

California regulators on Tuesday approved a plan to spend nearly $400 million over 10 years to slow the shrinking of the state’s largest lake, a vital migratory stop for birds and a buffer against swirling dust in farming towns.

Funding for the Salton Sea is unclear but the plan enjoyed support of major water agencies and environmental advocacy groups and preserves a fragile peace among urban and rural areas in California on distributing the state’s share of Colorado River water. Authorities in Imperial Valley, home to the 350-square-mile (560-square-kilometer) lake, had threatened to derail a landmark water-sharing agreement unless California did more to honor its commitment to a long-term fix.

Read full story at California approves rescue plan for shrinking Salton Sea10

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | November 9, 2017

California Fall Color Updates 11/9/17

California Fall Color  has  a new update

Sacramento Valley –This Sacramento Valley farm town, south of Chico, is peaking as walnut orchards turn golden, sycamore turn chartreuse and the last of California’s dogwood are heavy with bright red berries.
Durham – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | November 9, 2017

Eastern National Forests Fall Color 11/9/17

Eastern Region National Forests reports

Last Fall Color Report of the Season – Nov. 9, 2017

Color is winding down around the Region; therefore, this will be the last fall color update for the 2017 season. Please visit the Eastern Region website and unit websites for winter recreation information. There are lots of fun activities to do after the leaves have fallen and the snow begins to blanket the trees.

Shawnee National Forest Fall color has peaked on the Shawnee National Forest! Due to the dry summer, fall colors were not as brilliant this year. But there was some color…check out the pictures of our Forest on Flickr, Twitter and Facebook!

Wayne National Forest The Wayne National Forest is still at peak fall color, but the climax of this year’s autumn show won’t last much longer. We hope you can take time to enjoy it while it lasts. Oak trees are shining in reds and golds, and maples flaunt a kaleidoscope of every fall color. Looking for something fun to do this weekend? Mark your calendars for our Wild Weekend Discovery Series this Saturday, November 11, from 10 – 11 a.m.! Kids aged preschool through 5th grade can come learn about the changes that all animals go through from birth to adulthood; some animals like frogs change much more than others. Meet at the Wayne National Forest headquarters located off Highway 33 south of Nelsonville. Please preregister by calling 740-753-0542.

Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest The fall color season has wound down across the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. It was a beautiful fall with really enjoyable colors shown throughout the forest. Most of our campgrounds have now closed but some remain open through the fall for visitors but have no services at the sites. For more details on the Wisconsin Fall Color Report visit

As always when visiting your national forests, safety first and know before you go! Hunting season has begun or will begin soon in many of the Eastern Region national forests. Please consider wearing blaze orange when

Posted by: Sandy Steinman | November 9, 2017

Anza-Borrego Road Update

The Anza-Borrego Foundation reports

Southern access road to Coyote Canyon has been repaired and is now open

We had a fair amount of rain in Coyote Canyon this past summer, and it left the road extremely washed out. After some hard work by our Park Staff, the Coyote Canyon area is now open for the season! Many of the Park’s dirt roads are still very sandy, so please be sure to check the road conditions report before heading out for an adventure, and never go out alone.


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