Saturday, October 30, 2010

habitat ~ 10/30/10 ~ Fort Ord - Dunes State Park

Fort Ord Dunes State Park
October 30, 2010

This California State Park officially opened in March 2009. It's directly across Hwy 1 from California State University, Monterey Bay. Finding the parking lot is a bit challenging, because you have to maneuver through confusing old Fort Ord roads, past dilapidated buildings and massive piles of broken concrete. Unlike many other State Parks, there's no day use fee and not much in terms of services: a large porta potty, a couple picnic tables in the parking lot, and a short boardwalk with very good interpretive signs.

The dune bluffs erode away at about 5 to 8 ft a year. I got this information from one of the interpretive signs, which is quoted in the SF Chronicle. The evidence of this claim is Stilwell Hall almost fell into the ocean despite initial plans to make it a visitor center for the new State Park. The beach is definitely not a swimming beach and large signs warn of rip currents. However, the views of the entire Monterey Bay, from Pacific Grove to Santa Cruz, are incredible from atop the dunes or down on the beach.

To get down to the water there's a short walk through a dune valley of sorts. The dune bluffs go straight up on both sides with some unusual sand graffiti etched into the firmer parts of the bluff. It felt like a scene from one of those cheesy old Star Trek shows where they're checking out a new planet. Scotty, set your phaser on stun!

hottentot fig
Carpobrotus edulis

They're in the process of restoring the dunes by removing the invasive hottentot fig, which is just starting to turn red for the season. This is no small task since this iceplant from South Africa is everywhere. According to the interpretive signs, black legless lizards, Monterey spineflower, Menzies' wallflower, dune gilia, Smith's blue butterfly, and snowy plovers can be found here. We didn't see any of them but enjoyed our quick visit anyways.


texwisgirl said...

That 3rd shot is really pretty. Had to laugh at your list of "amenities" they offer there. :)

Orchids and Nature said...

A beautiful coastline

Nature ID (Katie) said...

Thank you, twg and David. I'm still discovering new places here. As usual I edited, so this post has expanded from what you may have read yesterday morning.

Anonymous said...

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