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November 2016 Explore

Wild, Wild Life

Wildlife cameras installed in Mt. Tamalpais open spaces in September 2014 have begun revealing some surprising things about the mountain’s residents. Cameras were placed in a variety of habitat types throughout the Lagunitas Creek corridor. Sites on all of the One Tam partner agencies lands were chosen to help show how mammals are using these interconnected landscapes. 

Photos have shed light on the activities of rare mammals, such as river otters and western spotted skunks (a species that may be in decline). A good number of carnivores have also been caught on camera, including gray foxes, coyotes, bobcats and even a one-eyed mountain lion. While land managers are aware of many of the species found on and around the mountain, there are many things they do not know, including their abundance, how they move across the landscape or how they might use different areas over the course of the year.

The motion-activated cameras are stationary and weatherproof, so they can be left outside for long periods of time. Because they don’t emit light or use a flash, they can take pictures day or night without disturbing the animals. The cameras were installed as part of a broader international Wildlife Picture Index Project (WPI) first developed by the Wildlife Conservation Society and the Zoological Society of London.

Around 160 volunteers have helped staff members comb through the more than 1.5 million images collected by the cameras so far. Classes from Redwood High School, San Rafael High School, City College of Marin, City College of San Francisco and San Francisco State University have also come by to lend a hand, and new volunteers are always welcome. Plans to expand to south of the mountain will ramp up in January.

Walk, Click, Share

Fall is an amazing time to hike, bike and horseback ride North Bay parks and trails. To encourage us all to get out and enjoy the natural beauty, Napa County Regional Park and Open Space District has issued the 2016 Napa Open Space District Fall Trails Challenge. The premise is simple: Photograph you and/or your buddies hiking, biking or horseback riding on five of the 10 trails listed on the website and upload your photos to Friends of the Napa Open Space District Facebook page or to Instagram (#NOSD).

Winners will be randomly selected through the first day of winter, December 21, 2016, with a grand prize of two nights in the newly renovated cabins at Bothe Napa Valley State Park. One winner and a guest will join NOSD’s newest partner Trackers Earth at an outdoor training course, including a half-day archery class and one night in the cabins at Eco Camp Berryessa. Four participants will receive Napa Open Space District logoed gifts including an insulated water bottle, the “best cap in the world” (according to William Everett Brown) and decals to show your support of the district.

So what are you waiting for? Get out and enjoy! (Note: Sonoma County Regional Parks issued a similar challenge, which concluded in October.)


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