Archive | April, 2015

How to Prevent Snakebites When Hiking



With only about a dozen deaths a year out of 8,000 reported snake bites, snakes aren’t as dangerous as their reputation would have us believe. Any deaths from snake bites occur because victims neglected to get timely medical attention. Nonetheless, it’s best to avoid snakes when hiking, especially vipers like rattlesnakes, cottonheads and copperheads which can release venom that causes serious tissue damage, and even bites from harmless snakes can cause infection and allergic reactions.

The following tips should help to avoid contact with snakes:

  • Gopher Snake

    Gopher Snake

    Avoid trekking snake territory at night because snakes tend to be most active when darkness falls.

  • Keep your eyes and ears open. You’ll hear a snake before seeing it.
  • Wear protective footwear as well as long pants or even gaiters. Using trek poles or walking sticks may offer snakes a different target.
  • Keep to paths and avoid weeds, tall grass, brush, bushes, logs and loose rocks. Avoid sticking a hand or foot in a hole or crevasse.
  • Take care in picking anything up from the ground and in sitting down. Also, be careful where you put your hands when climbing up rocky trails.
  • Don’t attempt to provoke or pickup a snake. Many snake bites occur as a result of people seeking snake encounters. Even recently killed snakes can still move reflexively and bite.
  • Although most snakes will avoid contact with humans, their instinct is to bite when feeling threatened in their territory. Be aware of your surroundings and you’ll dramatically decrease your risk of being taken by surprise.


When to Prune Plants

PruningWhether it’s to remove dead or damaged branches, or purely for aesthetic reasons, pruning is key to maintaining a healthy and beautiful garden. It can help provide additional shape and structure to a garden, while also offering more space for planting.

Corrective pruning should be done as soon as you notice dead plant tissue. Removing older stems encourages new growth and decrease the chance of disease spreading throughout the plant. For fruit-bearing and flowering plants, timely pruning can increase the number of shoots bearing flowers or fruit. Pruning to reduce dense growth can also allow light to reach lower leaves.

Pruning should typically be done during the dormant season, which is winter Pruningfor deciduous plants; but it depends on when a plant flowers. For plants that bloom before May 1, prune immediately after flowering is over. For plants blooming after May 1, simply prune during the dormant season; unless it’s a hydrangea, in which case you should prune if immediately after flowering. For tips on pruning roses, click on this link Fruit trees are best pruned in winter to help shape the free and open up the center for light. Ornamental evergreens, including hedges, can be pruned late winter or even spring.

Before pruning, it’s best to think carefully about how you want your plant to look. Remove any dead or damaged stems and branches and then prune to improve shape. Keep the task of pruning simple by doing it frequently and not waiting for growth to get too unwieldy or to grow awkwardly.

PruningBe sure not to get too carried away and over prune your plant. The goal of good pruning is to remove only the bad parts of the plant so that the plant appears untouched. Excessive pruning, however, can reduce the foliage needed for making food and may cause the plant to over sprout in response to foliage loss. The plant may even exhaust itself by trying to replenish its leaves, resulting in weak branches. Since time is the only real cure for over pruning, prune cautiously, removing no more than a third of the plant’s canopy at a time.

Pruning at the wrong time is rarely fatal, although it may mean fewer flowers and fruit. As long as you remember to prune your plants, without over pruning, you should be able to keep them vigorous and in flower.

California State University Channel Islands: It’s All In The Name Santa Rosa Island – An Innovative Teaching and Research Site

Santa Rosa Island Research StationOn Thursday, April 2, we were invited to a reception of this exhibition on the second floor of the John Spoor Broome Library on the CSU campus in Camarillo. Our nonprofit annually supports this program. Irina D. Costache, Ph.D., Dan Wakelee, Ph.D., and Cause Hanna, Ph.D. organized the exhibition. We visited with them as well as many students who visited and studied at Santa Rosa Island. Several university programs participated in this exhibition that include: Anthropology, Art, Biology, Business, Communication, English, ESRM, Political Science, and Sociology as well as the 2014 Faculty Writing Retreat and the Student Affairs/Student Life Orientation.

Many displays were mounted on the walls that consisted of photographs of students hiking on the island, writings from students in the English classes, artwork from students in the art classes, and in glass cases–artifacts discovered by the students on the island. Alex Yepez wrote “It started with Kirsten, opening our eyes to see what a difference we can make in helping our environment by separating trash and recyclables. I never realized the actual impact it has with the land fills and all the space it takes.”

Santa Rosa Island Research StationThe Santa Rosa Island Research Station is very unique and has a partnership with the National Park Service and several other research and educational institutions. This research station offers a pathway for students to explore one of North America’s exceptional places. It is a very unique “classroom” and enhances knowledge about various disciplines taught on campus. Students can experience nature first hand without their high tech devices diverting their attention and can begin to focus and reflect on the world and about their self in this special place. Briana Ramos wrote “I strongly believe that it is because we were disconnected that we were able to connect with each other on a much deeper level than if we had our phones.”

President Rush came to see the exhibition and we had a chance to visit with him. During the event, Drs. Costache, Hanna, and Wakelee gave brief speeches and then we were invited to speak and expressed a “thank you” to the students for writing us thank you letters expressing their experiences and telling us what this exposure has meant to them in their lives. Many had life changing experiences and we were so grateful to be able to know about this and what our support has done to change lives and to open up a world that is so different from what they have on the main land. We gave out Havasi Wilderness Foundation bookmarks to all attendees so they can visit our website and learn more about what we have to offer from an educational standpoint.

Thank you CSUCI for the opportunity to be part of this wonderful and special program.

The Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

The largest heron in North America, the Great Blue Heron has a six-foot wingspan in flight; although it only weighs 5 to 6 pounds. Its slate-gray body and long legs and neck, with a shaggy ruff at the base, make it easy to spot. Thanks to specially shaped vertebrae, its neck curls up into an S shape for more aerodynamic flight.

The Great Blue Heron can be found in a variety of freshwater and saltwater habitats including marshes, meadows, lake shores and shallow bays. It’s in such environments, the Great Blue Heron can be seen moving slowly through the water, in search for prey. They’ll also stand silently in wet meadows and along riverbanks, waiting for prey to approach before striking with their sharp bills and using their neck muscles to swallow the prey whole. Dagger-shaped bills help impale larger fish.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

It’s a diverse diet that enables the Great Blue Heron to inhabit many different habitats where they feed on fish, amphibians, reptiles, invertebrates, small mammals, such as mice and gophers, and even small birds. Fortunately for the Great Blue Heron, it can hunt day and night, due to a high percentage of rod-type photoreceptors that improve night vision.

Although they’re primarily solitary foragers, Great Blue Herons nest in colonies, typically found in forests, on islands and

near mudflats, away from human habitation but close enough to feeding areas. Although they mainly nest in trees, some 100 or more feet off the ground, they also nest on the ground and in bushes.

Despite increasing numbers since 1966, the Great Blue Heron still suffers the loss of habitant, human development destroying wetlands needed for feeding and breeding. Contamination in waterways has also posed a threat to their populations.