Trip Number: 12343A
Staff: Cara Wilson
- Help restore the rare Central Coast Maritime chaparral ecosystem of
the country's newest national monument
- Discover this hidden gem of land next to the Monterey Peninsula
- Meals will feature meat and seafood and emphasis locavore planning
- A group trip to the world-renowned Monterey Bay Aquarium
- A drive-to campsite that is exclusive & restricted
- All meals and snacks
Photo: Donald Buraglio
The trip will be based at Fort Ord Public Lands, now managed by BLM (Bureau
of Land Management), but formerly a military base from 1917 until 1994, when
it was decommissioned. Fort Ord was a major training facility for the army from
World War II through Desert Storm. While a former military base sounds an odd
choice for a Sierra Club trip, military bases provide nice refugia for wildlife
and fauna since they are basically huge tracts of largely undeveloped land.
Fort Ord Public Lands certainly fits in this category, and BLM's mission for
the area involves providing habitat preservation and conservation, and high-quality,
environmentally sensitive recreation opportunities. The land is basically a
huge piece of rare Central Coast maritime chaparral, with a large number of
vernal pools. The roads (open only to authorized vehicle traffic) and trails
are used by hikers, runners, bicyclists and equestrians. Fort Ord is the country's
newest national monument. In honor of Earth Day, on April 20, 2012, President
Obama designated Fort Ord a national monument. The historical significance of
this land predates the U.S. military presence -- the early Spanish explorer
Juan Bautista de Anza forged an overland route from Mexico to San Francisco
Bay, which passed through what is now Fort Ord Public Lands.
We will spend three days working on the Fort Ord Public Lands, which is managed
by BLM. Our work will probably involve a combination of trail clean-up, invasive
plant removal, and native seed collection. We will also spend one day working
at the campsite. This property has been used as a group campground in the past,
but in recent years has been subject to vandalism, and currently needs maintenance.
The camp property has been set aside for the development of an environmental
education-based youth camp. While there are still potentially dangerous discarded
military munitions on some parts of Fort Ord, we will not be entering into those
Photo: Donald Buraglio
We will assemble at the campsite adjacent to the BLM Fort Ord Public Lands
in the late afternoon on Sunday, October 14. The first meal we provide will
be the evening meal that day. We will work four days in all, taking two days
off to explore and/or relax. The trip will conclude Sunday morning October 21.
On that day, breakfast will be served and we'll send you on your way with a
On one of the days off there will be a planned group outing to the Monterey
Bay Aquarium at the historic Cannery Row in Monterey. On the other day off the
group activity will be visiting the beaches around Monterey Bay and the ocean.
There are numerous alternative options that participants can choose to do on
their own, either in lieu of the planned activities, or before or after the
trip. Those wanting a wilderness experience can explore the 86 miles of trails
on 7,200 acres of land within Fort Ord Public Lands, or hike some of the rugged
coastal peaks in the area that offer breathtaking views of the Pacific. There
are multiple ways to experience the nearby Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary
-- scuba diving in the kelp beds, going on a whale watching cruise, horseback
riding on the beach, kayaking, etc. Literary types might want to visit the National
Steinbeck Center in Salinas, 20 miles to the east, which pays tribute to the
Salinas native, John Steinbeck. For history buffs several of the 21 CA missions
are a short drive away (Carmel, Santa Cruz, and San Juan Bautista). Feel free
to contact the leader (a Monterey local) for more information on these activities.
The Monterey airport is less than 15 miles away, and the campsite can easily
be reached by a short taxi ride from the airport. The campsite is accessible
by a private paved road that we will be able to use, but is not open to
the general public. The San Jose airport is 65 miles to the north, and the San
Francisco airport is about 100 miles to the north. Detailed instructions on
accessing the campsite will be provided to accepted participants by the trip
leader, as well as roster information to facilitate ride-sharing.
Accommodations and Food
Photo: Donald Buraglio
We will be tent camping in a site set aside for future development as a youth
camp. You will need to provide all of your own camping gear, including your
tent. Currently this is a very rustic site, with only an open shelter available
to serve as our kitchen area. There is no running water (water will be provided
though), no electricity and no flush toilets (there will be Porta-Pottys). Think
of our week as a hybrid experience between car camping (the site is accessible
by a paved road, which is closed to the public) and backcountry camping. This
will be a great opportunity to see how you like a "backcountry" experience
if you have never tried it. We will have the site to ourselves, with the exception
of the occasional runner or mountain biker going through on one of the trails.
The cuisine on this trip will be a meat-based diet modeled after traditional
American meals of salad and/or soup, lean meat or seafood, starch, vegetable,
and desert. Although we will be serving substantial meat on this trip, we will
still be able to accommodate vegetarians. This area of California is considered
the salad bowl of America and the options to purchase local, organic vegetables,
and fresh caught local seafood are abundant. As much as the budget allows, we
will use these local sources when planning our menus and purchasing our groceries.
Menu planning also has to take into account that there will be no refrigeration
other than coolers with ice, some foods must be protected from animals, and
only portable propane stoves will be available for cooking.
We have a group commissary with everyone taking turns in food preparation and
kitchen cleanup. Our first meal will be dinner on day one and our last meal
together will be breakfast on the final day, with the option of packing a "to
Before applying for the trip, people with food allergies and/or strong food
preferences should contact the cook to see if accommodations are possible.
Photo: Donald Buraglio
All service trips are considered to be moderately strenuous. However, our
work will involve only light-duty hand tools and there will be a variety of
tasks to suit each person's abilities. We'll each work at our own pace. Health
and safety is a very high priority, and you are the best judge of your abilities.
Equipment and Clothing
BLM will provide the tools for the work project. In addition to your regular
camping gear, come prepared to work with sturdy boots, long pants, long-sleeved
shirts and leather workgloves. You will need a day pack to carry your lunch,
water, raingear, sunscreen, etc. You will need hiking boots while we are working
on the project although it is not anticipated that there will be much hiking
necessary to get to the work sites.
The Monterey area is known for its misty fog, which provides natural air-conditioning,
and hence it rarely gets too hot. However October often has more sun than fog,
and we could experience summer-like conditions or rainstorms. Prepare for all
options, and plan on utilizing layering as your dress.
We will provide food and the necessary equipment for cooking it. You will need
personal eating utensils such as bowl, cup, and spoon. A plastic food container
(preferably two) with a tight-fitting lid is necessary for carrying your lunch
to the work site each day.
We will provide a first-aid kit for emergencies, but you should bring moleskin,
bandaids, and Tylenol (or the like) for dealing with the little aggravations
of life, as well as any personal medications you require. Please do not forget
that all participants must have a current tetanus shot within the past 10 years.
This injection is most commonly available from your doctor or at your local
public health department for a modest cost.
A full list of needed equipment will be sent to you after you've been accepted
onto the trip. If you have questions please contact the trip leader.
- Palumbi, Stephen R; Sotka, Carolyn. The Death and Life of Monterey Bay,
a Story of Revival.
- Steinbeck, John. Cannery Row.
- Steinbeck, John. East of Eden.
- Steinbeck, John. Sweet Thursday.
- Steinbeck, John. Tortilla Flat.
- Uhrowczik, Peter. The Burning of Monterey: The 1818 Attack on California
by the Privateer Bouchard.
Photo: Donald Buraglio
We will learn about the different habitat types, such as riparian forest,
perennial grasslands, and vernal pools that the BLM is conserving and protecting
on the Fort Ord Public Lands. These lands are essential to the survival of sensitive
plants and animals. For many of the rare plants, 50-90% of their worldwide habitat
After the Fort Ord military base was decommissioned a large chunk of the land
was given to BLM, however, much of the land surrounding the BLM Public Lands
are facing some controversial plans for development. We will also learn about
these development issues.
See the How to Apply for an Outing section for more details on registering for this trip and details
about our Reservation and Cancellation Policy.
The payment of a deposit does not confirm you as a member on the trip. Participants must be approved by the trip leader. After signing up for this trip, you will be sent a confirmation packet containing approval materials (Participant Approval Questionnaire, Medical Form, Liability Release Form). Each applicant (including those on the waitlist) must fill out these forms and promptly mail them to the trip leader. The leader will review the approval materials and notify you of your acceptance in a timely manner.
After moving around most her life Cara finally settled down in Monterey ten years ago. She is very excited to be leading this inaugural trip to Fort Ord and to have an opportunity to share this slice of paradise with others. She spends most of her Saturday mornings running the trails of Fort Ord and has developed a special love for this odd piece of land. She works as an oceanographer for NOAA in Monterey.
Lelia Heading has been cooking for Service Trips for sixteen years and always enjoys the opportunity to visit new places, cook for hungry workers, and meet great people who dedicate their vacation to improving our public lands. She is looking forward to visiting the coastal climate of this environmentally significant area and the Monterey Aquarium with someone as knowledgeable as Cara.
General Notes About Sierra Club Trips