Saturday, December 17, 2011

habitat ~ 12/17/11 ~ Fort Ord - BLM Creekside

Fort Ord Public Lands - Creekside entrance
December 17, 2011

Truth be told, we didn't actually park at the Creekside entrance for this evening hike. We used the old dirt pull-off on Reservation Rd., which we once used regularly before the BLM built a fancy parking lot with pit toilets on Creekside Terrace, shown in the 3rd photo above.

Speaking of the 3rd photo and 4th photo, that's not the pretty shimmer of water in the distance; it's the extensive plastic that farmers use to cultivate strawberries. Strawberries have been Monterey County's most valuable crop for the past 3 years. I had a friend who recently worked at a small organic farm. Even though they didn't use methyl bromide or methyl iodide, they used several hundred pounds of plastic every year. It was a huge expense for them to dump the plastic at the local waste management, but it was "better" than burning all those plastic chemicals to be released into the atmosphere, which according to my organic farmer friend so many other farmers choose to do to save on costs of dumping plastic. There seems to be something inherently wrong with plasticulture. Needless to say, I've long ago not purchased strawberries, be it cheap supermarket, on the side of the road, or expensive organic farmers' market. I believe the environmental costs are too great for such a small fruit. However, I will eat them if they're offered to me. Hmm, maybe I'll try growing strawberries in my mini-balcony greenhouse... which, guess what, is covered in reused greenhouse plastic?

Monterey manzanita ~ 12/17/11 ~ Fort Ord

best guess Monterey manzanita
best guess Arctostaphylos montereyensis
CNPS 8th Edition Inventory

I believe all of our local manzanitas start blooming in the winter. The above pictured plant is the first to bloom for the season that I've noticed at Fort Ord. According to Calflora, there are 120 spp./ssp. in CA, which makes ID rather challenging. This is my best guess based on the 7 recorded spp./ssp. at Fort Ord. I'd love to hear from anyone who knows how to distinguish between the different types of manzanitas.

wedge-leaved horkelia ~ 12/17/11 ~ Fort Ord

Again, another fresh bloom and leaves alongside dry seeded parts from this past year. Looking back, I haven't done much hiking in December to have noticed these kinds of flowers before. Ah, I love living on the coast of CA where wildflowers can be found in winter.