October 2015                                                                                 
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Welcome to another edition of Habitat Happenings, a newsletter provided by San Diego Habitat Conservancy (SDHC). 

In August, we began baseline documentation at Quarry Creek Preserve in Carlsbad, California. Jim and Sarah were excited to hear the federally endangered least Bell's vireo and to see and hear a pair of federally threatened coastal California gnatcatchers at the site.  We also began an Instagram account thanks to our volunteer, Valerie Bednarski. Check it out! 

In September, we hired Danielle Phillips as Program Assistant! Danielle, a former volunteer, will focus on expanding our education and outreach programs, coordinating our volunteers, researching grant opportunities, and assisting with our office and habitat management duties. Learn more about Danielle later in this newsletter. We also signed the operating agreement to manage the Vista Unified School District Preserves (aka Darwin Preserve and Dual Magnet High School Preserve).

In October, we began long-term management of Muroya Property Preserve in Carlsbad. This month we are also completing the last step in the application process for accreditation with the Land Trust Accreditation Commission (LTAC) and will then wait until late February 2016 to hear if we will be accredited. Wish us luck! 

Jim identifying grey fox scat at Quarry Creek Preserve. 

San Diego Habitat Conservancy's vision is a healthy natural environment that engages the commitment of people and  communities, creates a legacy, and improves the quality of life for all living things.

SDHC to Host "Virtual Gala" this November... Stay Tuned!

Keep an eye on your inboxes. This November, SDHC will be sending out a series of emails to celebrate the highlights of the past year and to thank all our members and partners for their support. Rumor has it there will be a fun video and a silent auction included as well. Stay tuned!
SDHC Owning and Managing More Land in Carlsbad
SDHC is excited to announce that we have taken over long-term management duties for the majority of Muroya Property Preserve in the City of Carlsbad. Dudek/HRS will continue to perform a five-year restoration program for a 0.92-acre portion of the site. Once Dudek completes the restoration in 2017, SDHC will begin managing the additional acreage. Muroya Property Preserve is one of only three preserves that SDHC owns in addition to managing. 

This 8.53-acre site includes southern maritime chaparral, Diegan coastal sage scrub, southern mixed chaparral, and native grassland. The site provides valuable habitat for several species of special interest, including coastal California gnatcatcher (federally threatened), California adolphia, wart-stemmed ceanothus, Nuttall's scrub oak, and Engelmann oak.

        California adolphia                               Engelmann Oak                      Wart-stemmed Ceanothus
SDHC Expanding Management Reach in Oceanside!
SDHC continues to expand our presence in Oceanside with the Vista Unified School District Preserve properties, also known as the Darwin Preserve and Dual Magnet High School Preserve. SDHC will be grantee to the conservation easements for these 2 properties as well as the long-term managers. The preserves protect Diegan coastal sage scrub, native grassland, and riparian habitat and provide much needed habitat for the coastal California gnatcatcher, least Bell's vireo, and small-flowered morning glory. 

The 19.25-acre Dual Magnet High School Preserve is bordered to the north by the San Luis Rey River corridor and to the south and west by the Dual Magnet High Schools. Approximately 2 miles south is the Darwin Preserve, comprised of 15.7 acres, and bordered to the south by the future Taylor Property Preserve, which SDHC is contracted to manage. SDHC will visit these sites on a monthly basis and conduct protocol-level surveys for the coastal California gnatcatcher every 3 years.

                                                                                                                                   Least Bell's Vireo                           Coastal California Gnatcatcher
                                 (Photo Credit: Scott Streit)                   (Photo Credit: Richard Bledsoe)
Species Spotlight
(Philaenus spumarius)
Chances are you’ve seen these critters before, but you had no idea what you were looking at.  (Egg sacs?  Soap?  Bug spit?  What WAS that stuff?)  Well, after our recent encounter at the Carlsbad Raceway Preserve, we have answers for you.

These insects are called spittlebugs.  Adult spittlebugs are small, brown or green winged insects that feed on the juices of herbaceous plants.  They generally cause very little damage to healthy plants.  When disturbed, adult spittlebugs can jump very far and very quickly, earning them the nickname "froghoppers."  However, it's immature spittlebugs, called nymphs, that are responsible for the mystery above.

As a self-protection measure, once spittlebug eggs hatch, the nymphs immediately begin producing white, frothy spittle: a mixture of glandular secretion, water, and air bubbles.  The spittle hides nymphs from sight and deters predators with its bitter, acrid taste.  It also keeps the nymphs moist and healthy until they are mature enough to be in open air.

                     Adult spittlebug
            (photo credit Neil Hancock)


Spittlebug nymph covered in froth
(photo credit Sanjay Acharya)

Spittlebug nymph found at
Carlsbad Raceway Preserve this July

We found the above individual on a site visit in Carlsbad.  When we cleared away the spittle, the nymph began wriggling back and forth.  After a minute or so, we noticed the wriggling motion was actually generating new spittle.  By the time we left, the nymph was well on its way to being covered again.
Meet Our Newest Staff Member!
Danielle Phillips recently joined the staff at SDHC as Program Assistant.  Originally from Charlottesville, Virginia, Danielle moved to San Diego in the spring of 2014 and began volunteering with SDHC to improve her understanding of environmental issues in Southern California.  She is fascinated by the diversity of species and land types in San Diego, and looks forward to working with SDHC to learn more about them and to share her learning with others.  Danielle is a graduate of the University of Virginia and holds Bachelor's degrees in Environmental Science and Environmental Thought & Practice.

Become a Member Today!
Our efforts to preserve native habitat and biodiversity in San Diego County and to expand our education program can only be accomplished with the support of donations. As a dedicated member, you are helping to preserve those spaces that are unique to San Diego and you are helping to ensure that future generations may enjoy the same beauty that never ceases to astound and inspire us. Please make your voice heard by becoming a member today!
Go to to join. Make a minimum $35 donation
                                              and receive a lightweight SDHC t-shirt.
Eric Mondero, President
Kenneth Little, Treasurer/CFO
Trish Jones Mondero, Secretary
Omar Acosta
Dave Claycomb
Joe Duffel
Robert Leiter

Dan Root
Christina Schaefer
Don Scoles, Executive Director
Jim Rocks, Habitat Manager
Sarah Krejca, Program Coordinator
Danielle Phillips, Program Assistant 

Volunteer at SDHC!
Join us! SDHC has volunteer opportunities on
the Board of Directors as well as in fundraising and GIS. 
We are also seeking a volunteer filmmaker! See our website ( for details.
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2770 Historic Decatur Rd., Suite 205, San Diego, CA  92106
Phone: (619) 365-4839 ~ Email:

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