June 2017                                                                           
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Welcome to another edition of Habitat Happenings, a newsletter provided by San Diego Habitat Conservancy (SDHC). 

In January, we welcomed Bridget Hicks to the Board of Directors and Kathy Tonsgard as our accountant. Kathy replaces Chris Baker who served as SDHC's accountant since 2006. Although we are sad to see Chris go, we are grateful to have found someone as qualified as Kathy to replace her.
In February, Bob Leiter stepped down from the Board of Directors in order to "truly" retire after a long career in urban and environmental planning. Read more about Bob, Chris, and the newest additions to the SDHC team later in this newsletter.

In March, we finished setting up brush piles at Lonestar Preserve as part of a collaborative study with San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research. The goal of the study is to attract California ground squirrels to the site, and ultimately, burrowing owls. Later that month, we signed an operating agreement to be the long-term managers of Daybreak Church Preserve in Carlsbad once the 5-year restoration period is completed in 2022. 

In April, Sarah attended a 5-day "General CRAM training" in Costa Mesa. CRAM stands for the California Rapid Assessment Method which is used as a tool throughout California to monitor the condition of wetlands. Sarah is now fully qualified to conduct CRAM on all types of wetlands (besides vernal pools) which will be required on several of SDHC's upcoming properties. We will also start offering this service on a contract basis.

In May, we hosted a tour for Board members and family followed by the annual Board Meeting at one of our upcoming preserves in Valley Center. We'll keep you guessing about specifics since negotiations are ongoing, but we can tell you that this preserve will more than double the acreage we manage and provide protection for numerous historical resources. We can't wait to share more details in the coming months!

In June, we signed an operating agreement to manage Sierra Ridge Preserve in Oceanside. SDHC first began working on negotiations for this preserve back in 2005 so we are very excited to have this one under our belts, to say the least. 

Program Coordinator Sarah Krejca and Volunteer Kelsey Dix setting up 1 of the 12 brush piles at Lonestar Preserve which we hope will attract California ground squirrels.

Looking out over Daybreak Church Open Space Preserve

Board members and family learning about historical resources at an upcoming preserve.
Farewell to Chris and Bob
In January, Chris Baker stepped down as SDHC's Accountant, a role she filled for over 10 years. When Chris began working with us in 2006 SDHC was only contracted to manage 3 properties; now we're at 21 preserves and counting. Chris decided to retire after a 40 plus-year career in the accounting field having worked with many non-profit organizations through the years. Her dedication and guidance will be missed but we trust she is enjoying life as she settles into retirement. 

Bob Leiter stepped down from the Board of Directors in February after serving for nearly 4 years. Although Bob claims to have "retired" in 2009, it was hard to tell from how involved he remained in the environmental planning field, not only as Chair of SDHC's Education and Outreach Committee, but as a consultant in urban and environmental planning, a lecturer at UC San Diego, and a Board member with Stay Cool for Grandkids. Bob's passion for public service, environmental planning, and education has been evident and will be greatly missed. We wish Bob all the best and happy travels!
New Faces at SDHC

We are excited to welcome Bridget Hicks to the Board of Directors. Bridget is working towards a MS in geography at San Diego State University. Her thesis work focuses on the collaborations between stakeholders working towards connective land conservation in the Northern Rockies. Bridget grew up along the beach in Maine and completed her BS in geography at Montana State University in Bozeman. In her spare time, you can find Bridget hiking, mountain biking, practicing yoga, skiing, and camping.
Kathy Tonsgard joins SDHC as our accountant. Kathy is new to San Diego as of October 2016 and comes to us from beautiful Alaska. Kathy and her family are very involved in horse rescue in San Diego County and she volunteers on a couple of Boards supporting these rescues. Kathy obtained her BBA majoring in accounting from the University of Alaska, her MBA from University of Phoenix, and her JD from Concord Law School in Los Angeles. Kathy comes to SDHC with over 25 years of experience in the accounting and finance field.

Some of the beautiful scenery Kathy enjoyed in Alaska.
Lauren and Meadow Present the Burrowing Owl
This spring, Lauren Rocks and Meadow Payne, 4th graders (soon to be 5th graders!) at Bay Park Elementary School, visited Lonestar Preserve with Habitat Manager Jim Rocks to learn about the burrowing owl and to create a video as part of their presentation on the natural history of the burrowing owl. We are inspired to see their enthusiasm for the outdoors and their interest in spreading the word about this sensitive species. Keep up the great work, Lauren and Meadow!

Check out the results of Lauren's and Meadow's hard work below!
Lauren Rocks with her presentation on the burrowing owl.
Lauren Rocks and Meadow Payne present "Natural History of the Burrowing Owl: A Rare Species in San Diego County."
Species Spotlight
California Scrub-Jay
Aphelocoma californica
California Scrub-Jay at Muroya Preserve in Carlsbad
Prior to 1995, there was only one species of scrub-jay. In 1995, the scrub-jay was split into three separate species: Florida scrub-jay, western scrub-jay, and island scrub-jay. In July 2016, the western scrub-jay was further split into two species: California scrub-jay and Woodhouse's scrub-jay. These two species differ in ecology, morphology, genetics, and vocalization thus prompting the inevitable and long-anticipated split. Genetically, the California scrub-jay is actually more closely related to the island scrub-jay than the Woodhouse's scrub-jay. 

When compared to the Woodhouse's scrub-jay, the California scrub-jay has a more vivid and contrasting plumage, and a thicker, hooked bill used to open acorns in its oak woodland habitat. The Woodhouse scrub-jay's more slender bill is better suited for pulling pine nuts from deep inside pinyon pine cones. As is evident from the figure below, the California scrub-jay is found throughout much of California and you have likely seen one at a bird feeder, high in the trees, or on telephone wires. In contrast, the Woodhouse's scrub-jay is generally found from Nevada east through Utah, and portions of Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Texas. California scrub-jays, like most jays, are extremely vocal and according to The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, more than 20 different types of calls have been identified.
Range maps by Kenn Kaufman
Host an International Student from Germany!
Ever considered hosting an international student? Meet Oskar from Germany! He has a passion for nature and conservation. Oskar is heavily involved with NABU, a German nature conservancy. He also plays piano, participates in the local theatre, and is teaching himself to program in Java. Oskar is 16 years old and will be coming to Southern California in August.
Contact AFS Intercultural Programs today if you are interested in hosting Oskar or learning more about him!
AFS Intercultural Programs
Adam Mathis
Territory Director for Southern California
AFS-USA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation.
Donate 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 supporter, 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 donating today!
Go to to donate. Make a minimum $35 donation
and receive a lightweight SDHC t-shirt.

We are now enrolled in the Paypal Giving Fund! Donate through the link above and 100% of your donation will go directly to SDHC!
 Now your sales on Ebay (and other websites) can help support SDHC. Just click on the "Ebay for Charity" logo above to start donating a percentage of your sales directly to SDHC.   
Eric Mondero, President
Kenneth Little, Treasurer/CFO
Trish Jones Mondero, Secretary
Chelita Borbón
Dave Claycomb
Joe Duffel
Bridget Hicks

Inga Lintvedt
Christina Schaefer
Don Scoles, Executive Director
Jim Rocks, Habitat Manager
Sarah Krejca, Program Coordinator
Kathy Tonsgard, Accountant
Mary Applon, Bookkeeper

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

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San Diego Habitat Conservancy · 3065 Rosecrans Place Suite 106 · San Diego, CA 92110 · USA

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