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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Project Update: Sacatara Canyon



A view up Sacatara Canyon. Photo courtesy of Laura Pavliscak



Looking down Sacatara toward the Antelope Valley. Photo courtesy of Laura Pavliscak
On July 10th, 2014 construction was completed on the Sacatara wetlands fencing project. This marks the first step in Tejon Ranch Conservancy’s long-term riparian enhancement initiative. The plan is to see how excluding cattle from various wetlands on the property will affect flora and fauna. Our hope is to promote greater abundance and diversity of native species in these critical habitats. Sacatara is particularly important in this effort as it is the largest wetland system on the Antelope Valley side of Tejon Ranch. 
A portion of the fencing project that encloses one of Sacatara's springs. Photo courtesy of Laura Pavliscak

Southern alligator lizard (Elegaria multicarinata). Photo courtesy of Laura Pavliscak
In order to know what effect our management has, we need to understand the current condition of the resource. That way, when we look at the wetlands over the next five years, we’ll be able to see how it has changed from when cattle were allowed to roam free. To that point, Conservancy staff have been conducting vegetation and bird surveys of the Sacatara springs and meadows. Here are some cool things we’ve been finding:


Long-horned beetle (Tragidion annulatum). The antennae are almost 5" long! Photo courtesy of Laura Pavliscak





Check out the crazy compound eyes of this Mydas fly (Rhaphiomidas sp.). Photo courtesy of Laura Pavliscak

The Conservancy has also placed wildlife cameras in Sacatara to see what goes on when humans are not around. Unfortunately, it’s looking like the pigs have been having a field day in Sacatara. We suspect this is likely due to the drought forcing them to seek out places with reliable water for their foraging and wallowing needs. For more information on the wild pigs of Tejon, check out Dr. White’s blog post from April 4, 2014. 

A sounder of pigs can do a lot of damage in one night. Photos like these can help us identify individuals such as the spotted sow in the center. This helps us understand how far these animals are ranging and when they do certain things.

Wallowing.

This is what pig damage looks like the next day. Note the depression caused by wallowing and all of the mud that has been kicked up by their activities.

One glimmer of hope is that our cameras have also detected significant mountain lion activity- a cat’s gotta drink too! Hopefully this feline has developed a taste for wild boar and will help us keep these populations at bay. 


This kitty is a sight for sore eyes. Hopefully it likes "the other white meat"!