January 2015                                                                                       View this email in your browser  
Welcome to another edition of Habitat Happenings, a newsletter provided by San Diego Habitat Conservancy (SDHC). We hope you enjoyed the holidays and are pleased to share with you how we ended another successful year at SDHC.

In October, Habitat Manager, Jim Rocks, and Assistant Program Coordinator, Sarah Krejca, conducted outreach at Welk Resorts San Diego during the resort's annual meeting. This is a great opportunity for Jim and Sarah to share information about SDHC and Welk Preserve, which abuts the resort. We always receive such a warm welcome from everyone at Welk Resorts and this year was no different. 

In November, Jim and Sarah conducted an annual night survey at the 112-acre Bridges and Santa Fe Creek Preserve. The next day SDHC hosted a painting and drawing workshop at the preserve as part of the 
Exploring Art & Nature Series. This series is a collaboration between SDHC, Lux Art Institute, The Batiquitos Lagoon Foundation, and San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy. Find out more about both events later on in this newsletter.

In December, we welcomed Trish Jones Mondero and Omar Acosta to SDHC's Board of Directors! They both bring a great amount of passion and experience to the Board and we feel so lucky to have them as part of our team. Learn more about Trish and Omar on our website.

Later in December, Jim, Sarah, and Don conducted a nocturnal survey at the 116-acre Woods Valley Ranch Preserve which is adjacent to Woods Valley Ranch Golf Course. They encountered a bobcat, western toads, a ruby-crowned kinglet, a great horned owl, and a variety of other bird species during the 4 hour survey. Back at the office after the survey, they reviewed the photos from the w
ildlife motion camera that was installed at the preserve, and now believe that a mating pair of bobcats may be using the preserve. What an exciting discovery!

Don and SDHC's Board members at the Gala. (from left: Dave Claycomb, Christina Schaefer, Ken Little, Don Scoles, Eric Mondero, Joe Duffel)

Sarah at Welk Resorts San Diego.

New Board Member, Omar Acosta.

New Board Member, Trish Jones Mondero.
Our 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.
Thanks for Celebrating with Us!
We'd like to thank EVERYONE who joined us at the 2014 Gala and helped make it such a success! We had a lot of fun and with your help we were able to raise nearly $6,000 towards developing our education and outreach programs and expanding our habitat conservation efforts throughout the region. Photos from the event are available on JMag Photography's website or on SDHC's Facebook page
If you are interested in helping to plan next year's event,
please contact us at
THANK YOU Lee & Melanie for your hard work!!

We couldn't have pulled off the event without the help of volunteers, Lee Ripma and Melanie Rocks, from Rocks Biological Consulting.
THANK YOU Lisa for your continued support!

Founding Board member and long-time supporter, Lisa Capper, won an original painting by Don Scoles and a photograph by JMag Photography  taken at our Woods Valley Ranch Preserve.
Nocturnal Survey at Bridges & Santa Fe Creek
In November, Jim and Sarah conducted a nocturnal survey at Bridges & Santa Fe Creek Preserve. Surveying at night provides us the opportunity to discover animals, particularly invertebrates, amphibians, reptiles, and owls that are inactive during the day. The night started off very quietly, unlike the 2013 survey when the night air was filled with the familiar sounds of the Pacific chorus frog. This sharp decline in the number of Pacific chorus frogs Jim and Sarah heard may be attributed to the time of year and/or day during which the survey occurred (the 2013 survey was conducted later in the evening in May) since cold temperatures decrease amphibian activity.

Sarah removing crayfish from Escondido Creek.

Non-native crayfish are unwelcome residents in Escondido Creek.
Jim and Sarah's first task was to trap and remove non-native crayfish from Escondido Creek. This is done in an effort to protect native animals, such as Pacific chorus frogs (aka Pacific tree frogs), which are consumed by the invasive crayfish. After Jim and Sarah caught as many crayfish as they could, they continued surveying the preserve and discovered that wolf spiders are prevalent along the creek. This was an exciting discovery as these spiders have previously been undocumented within the preserve.
Jim and Sarah then headed to look for signs of owls nesting within the mature riparian forest lining Escondido Creek. Tall eucalyptus trees are also present and although these are invasive, they provide valuable nesting habitat for raptors and other birds. Jim and Sarah were hoping to spot a great horned owl since Jim had previously seen one in 2012 nesting in what was likely the abandoned nest of a red-tailed hawk (the great horned owl does not build its own nest). After some time, Jim and Sarah heard a series of "Hoo H'hooos" unique to the great horned owl (Bubo virginianus). After some trekking and a bit of luck, Jim spotted a great horned owl perched atop a tall eucalyptus that was quickly joined by a second great horned owl. 

Although experts disagree about the specific function of the great horned owl's ear tufts, they do agree that they do not play a role in hearing.
Great horned owls occupy the most extensive range of any owl and are the only animal known to regularly feed on skunks.
The pair began to perform a duet of alternating calls and we quickly realized this was likely a monogamous breeding pair letting us know that this is their territory. After allowing us to watch them calling for nearly a half hour, the pair went on their way. For Jim and Sarah, this was an epic ending to a productive night of surveying and a great sign that the preserve is continuing to provide valuable habitat for a wide array of species.

(Great horned owl photos copyrighted by Scott Streit.)
Exploring Art & Nature: Getting a Good Start

Did you know that SDHC's Executive Director, Don Scoles, is an accomplished painter? Well he is AND he's also a terrific teacher! On November 12th, Don led a sketching session at Bridges & Santa Fe Creek Preserve which focused on how to get a good start to your painting and drawings through appropriate formatting and the painterly ideals of emphasizing shapes and value.  
SDHC's Executive Director, Don Scoles, teaching
attendees how to draw landscapes. 
Workshop participant sketching along Escondido Creek.

Don also highlighted the many important habitats that are found within the preserve along Escondido Creek in Rancho Santa Fe. It was great to share a beautiful morning along the creek with people who share our love of the outdoors while tapping into our creative sides. We look forward to hosting more drawing and painting sessions and hope to see you at our next workshop in March!
More information about the Exploring Art & Nature series can be found below under What's in the Works.
Public Comment Period Open
San Diego Habitat Conservancy to Apply for Accreditation
with the National Land Trust Accreditation Commission
The land trust accreditation program recognizes land conservation organizations that meet national quality standards for protecting important natural places and working lands forever. San Diego Habitat Conservancy is pleased to announce it is applying for accreditation. A public comment period is now open.

The Land Trust Accreditation Commission, an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance, conducts an extensive review of each applicant’s policies and programs. The process will serve to strengthen San Diego Habitat Conservancy as an organization and will show to landowners, public agencies, funders, and other supporters that San Diego Habitat Conservancy meets rigorous standards for ensuring the long-term preservation and management of conservation lands.

The Commission invites public input and accepts signed, written comments on pending applications. Comments must relate to how San Diego Habitat Conservancy complies with national quality standards. These standards address the ethical and technical operation of a land trust. For the full list of standards see

To learn more about the accreditation program and to submit a comment, visit, or email your comment to Comments may also be faxed or mailed to the Land Trust Accreditation Commission, Attn: Public Comments: (fax) 518-587-3183; (mail) 36 Phila Street, Suite 201, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866. Comments on San Diego Habitat Conservancy’s application will be most useful by May 23, 2015.

What's In the Works?
Exploring Art and Nature
SERIES 2: Investigation of Biodiversity

SDHC is excited to announce the 2nd series of the Exploring Art & Nature program in partnership with Lux Art Institute, Batiquitos Lagoon Foundation, and San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy. The January through April workshops will build on the theme "investigation of biodiversity" and run from 10AM - 12PM.
  • Wednesday, February 11, 2015 @ Batiquitos Lagoon. Workshop focused on kelp collection and investigation.
  • Wednesday, March 11, 2015 led by San Diego Habitat Conservancy @ Lux Art Institute. Oil painting workshop led by SDHC's Don Scoles using natural materials for still-life.
  • Wednesday, April 8, 2015 @ San Elijo Lagoon. Workshop focused on basic photographic elements. Participants will be encouraged to take a picture that prompts people to "take action."

As the dates draw closer, look for more information by email and
by visiting SDHC's website and Facebook page.

Cost: $10 per class for members of any of the 4 organizations, $15 for non-members.
A $5 material charge may apply, depending on class.


Get Your Taxes Done and Help SDHC at the Same Time

SDHC is participating in the H&R Block Nonprofit Referral Program. SDHC will receive $20 for every new client of H&R Block who downloads a referral form and takes it to a participating H&R Block office. 

Click on the image to the left for more information and to download a form TODAY!

Make a Donation 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 donor, you will help to preserve those spaces that are unique to San Diego and ensure that future generations may enjoy the same beauty that never ceases to astound and inspire us. Please make your voice heard by making a donation today!
Go to to donate.
                     Make a minimum $35 donation and receive a lightweight SDHC t-shirt.
Eric Mondero, President
Kenneth Little, Treasurer/CFO
Dave Claycomb, Past President
Omar Acosta
Joe Duffel
Robert Leiter

Trish Jones Mondero
Dan Root
Christina Schaefer
Don Scoles, Executive Director
Jim Rocks, Habitat Manager
Sarah Krejca, Assistant Program Coordinator

Volunteer at SDHC!
Join us! SDHC has volunteer opportunities on the Board of Directors as well as in event planning for the 2015 Gala, fundraising, videography, and graphic design. 
Check out SDHC's newly designed website!
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2770 Historic Decatur Rd., Suite 205, San Diego, CA  92106
Phone: (619) 365-4839 ~ Email:

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