Latest Poppy Reserve Research Field Notes and Observations
6/5/13: Mary Wilson
REPORT ON 2013 FIRE AT POPPY RESERVE
Avenue K at 110th Street West – The fire did come over the hill in this area.
Still had poppies on Lancaster Road going to Munz Ranch. A lot of fire and forest trucks still going through the area. Can still smell smoke.
The fire had come down to Lancaster Road and crossed over on the west side of 170th St. West to about Avenue F. The fire also came down to the Healy Farm to Lancaster Road and jumped across – there were still hot spots smoking. Healy Farm did not burn.
Continued on Lancaster Road heading west to see if the fire reached Ripley. The fire burned around the Fairmont Church and this was being used as a command post. The fire came to Lancaster Road all the way past 190th St. West and it only jumped the road in a few places. Looks like all the homes in the area were saved. The Tyler Family Tree (Peach) Farm looked like it lost a few trees on the east side but most were saved.
Everything looked great at Ripley – nothing burned in the area. Went all the way to Hwy 138 and everything looks fine.
The border of the Reserve at 160th St. West (dirt road) was burned. The burn ranges from the south border fence junction to the north border fence junction and sometimes beyond. This burned east toward the Poppy Trail North Loop but did not reach the trail. A rough estimated 50 to 75 acres were burned.
This is the area where research has been done to rid the area of cereal rye. It also burned the tumbleweed and other grasses that were coming up. Just about all the cereal rye area was burned so it will be interesting to see what happens next year.
Also in the path of the burn was the research project of native bunch grasses. Some of the tubes that supported the plants have melted so they may be lost.
You can see a lot of the burn that came over the mountains from the Visitor Center but it stopped either prior or right up to Lancaster Road.
2/18/13: Mike Powell
I first inventoried the monitoring plot near the Visitor Center. I found and marked 32 to 40 poppy plants (most with their first true leaves) in the entire plot; 1 square meter. I believe that is the most we have ever found in this plot. Also saw a few pygmy leaved lupine and even fewer blue dicks or wild onion along with the expected filaree and grasses.
Next plot. I found maybe 18 to 20 poppy plants (most with their first true leaves) in the lower half of the plot. Extrapolating to the full 1 square meter plot, there could be 40 poppy plants total but the upper half seems to have denser grasses and, I believe, normally fewer poppies. The plot has a good crop of goldfields, a bunch of blue dicks/wild onions and I found one fiddleneck cot.
Last plot. Again, I found 38 poppy plants in this entire plot and a few p-l lupine plants as well. If my counts are close to complete, it appears that the poppy plant densities for areas around the monitoring plots are amazing consistent this year; except for the middle east ridge with 4 to 5 times as many poppies. When I started doing field observations, the east ridge had some of the best poppy displays but the area has had fewer poppies the last few years. It looks like that area might be best again this year if the poppies survive and grow to maturity. It was easy to find poppy plants in the immediate areas around the monitoring plots so the plot numbers seem to be representative of the wider area.
I went looking for the colony of g-s lupine growing near the col at the head end of that valley. I only found one small, very healthy looking plant but maybe I missed the others. I also checked the colony of g-s lupine plants near the western end of the Tehachapi Vista trail. Only the plant that had a blossom stem starting to open on my last visit was blooming but the other large plants had numerous buds so there is still hope for the future; they're just developing slower than I expected.
The only other significant item to report is the Joshua trees by the Visitor Center. I think that each mother tree might have 3 or 4 buds forming.
Right now, the forecast calls for possible snow throughout Wednesday. Total snow fall could be as much as 7 to 10 inches. That is equivalent to almost an inch of rain so this could be the strongest storm of the winter, so far. To determine if the snow causes poppy plant mortality, we need to re-inventory the plots shortly after the snow melts to see how many, if any, of the marked plants have been killed. It appeared that a number of larger poppy plants died following a significant snowfall several years ago so I anticipate seeing more plant mortality this time but, this time, we have a chance to collect quantifiable data. It might take a few days for the damage to be obvious but we probably should do the re-inventorying within a week so any additional seed germination doesn't fuzzy the data.
01/12/13: Mary Wilson
This year we have had very little rain and temperatures have gone down to 10-degrees. Not looking good for this year’s wildflower season, but I’m going to be optimistic. Rains can still arrive and we will just have a later wildflower season.
Normally by this time of year there are grasses, filaree, and poppy cots up from rains that start at the end of October or in November. On my most recent research excursion, I could find no poppy cots or any other wildflowers coming up. Did not see any filaree coming up. There are very few grasses coming up alongside the sidewalk and even less along the trails. The Turkey mullein, mustard and tumbleweeds are all dry, breaking off and ready for the wind to move them. Did not see any insects.
A few California Aster than had a few gray-green leaves at their base. The Joshua trees are doing fine. The beavertail cactus has gone into its winter mode and the pads are slightly shriveled, turning a blue-gray to mauve color. The rubber rabbitbrush still has a few yellow flowers but the plants are going to seed.