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Red-bellied newt, Taricha rivularis 
New Year, New Adventures

Dear California Naturalist Community,

With the page turned on 2020, it is understandable that our thoughts now look to forecasts, projections, and prognoses. We can’t be certain of any of these mental forays into the future, but we can reflect on how we’ve prepared to address them.

As the first atmospheric river of the winter season arrives it brings some optimism for the current water year (2020-2021). Much of the state has seen less than 30% of their average annual precipitation, and the news from the
United States Drought Monitor for the West isn’t pleasant. What is wonderful, from our perspective, is the interest from both partners and participants in the new The UC Climate Stewards certification course CalNat rolled out this fall. This course specifically prepares Californians to take an active role in strengthening community and ecosystem resilience to climate-related impacts, including drought and extreme weather conditions, wildfires, and other environmental changes for humans, plants, and animals.

On a different front, the prognosis for the fight against the corona virus(es) also remains a challenge. We are buoyed by the efforts of our partners to adapt to the restrictions designed to protect us all. The shift to online instructor trainings, remote course delivery, and safe volunteer service opportunities made by many of our partners are heartening. Our new
CONES webinar series, improvements to the California Naturalist Publication Series, and the engagement of our new Lead Scientist, Dr. Cameron Barrows are all helping us stay connected. As a learning community, we recognize that our ability to adjust our behavior to address changing conditions creates opportunities for us to continue to thrive.

The preparations and adjustments we’ve all made over the last 9 months will in large part be the key to our successes in the next 12. Notwithstanding the challenges ahead, our projection for 2021 is promising. Check out our newly updated course map at the blue “Take a course” link below and note that we now have separate tabs for partners offering CalNat courses and those offering Climate Stewards courses.

We hope to see you in class and on the trail in 2021!

Gregory Ira
UC California Naturalist Program

Click for the California Naturalist & Climate Stewards Course Calendar

Enjoy our latest CONES presentation "Smokey the Beaver: Can Beavers Prevent Wildfires?" with Dr. Emily Fairfax. In addition to learning about beavers and Dr. Fairfax's research, you can practice finding signs of beaver both in the field and in satellite images. Last fall we debuted CONES, the monthly California Online Naturalist Event Series. This series is created by and for UC California Naturalists and UC Climate Stewards to connect across the state on topics including natural history, ecology, climate change, and the intersections of pressing human and environmental issues.  
Sandy Derby

You Can't Retire From Being Amazing! 
In late December, amidst the holiday Zoom parties and anticipation of the end of a challenging  year, we said "Happy Retirement" to one of the California Naturalist Program's favorite UC ANR colleagues, Sandy Derby.  Sandy's entire career was focused on creating innovative environmental education curricula and programs while building effective partnerships and sharing her vision of high quality ecological learning for all students. She spent the last eight years with UC ANR in her roll as California PLT State Coordinator, training hundreds of educators in pedagogy and best practices in experiential environmental education.
Have You Heard the Story of Lake Cahuilla?

Pelicans flying in formation
The building of dams on the Colorado River has forever changed the ebb, flow, flooding, drying, and renewal cycle of what is now known as the Salton Sea over time. It would be hard to fully appreciate the biological richness created by Lake Cahuilla. The river would have delivered both water and fish to fill the lake. The fish then would form the base of a food web that would include millions of pelicans, cormorants, terns, grebes, and ducks, with storks, cranes, herons, rails, and egrets hunting along the shores. The first humans to experience and document this ebb and flow and renewal of sand and water were the Cahuilla, as told through their oral traditions. Alter an ecosystem process and there will be consequences to biodiversity. The cascade of impacts stemming from altering this ecosystem with dams and diversions continues. Learn more about this special place in Dr. Cameron Barrows latest Natural History Note.  

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