Photo: Alan Schmierer
Trip Number: 13074A
Staff: Suzanne Ferguson
- Enjoy spring colors and wildlife viewing in the California savannah
- Work four days clearing invasive plants, establishing controlled
areas to reduce damage to biological and cultural resources, and sprucing
up visitor areas
- Contemplate the many-layered history of human occupation at Carrizo
- Six nights camping at one of the historic ranches
inside the Monument
- Seven days of hearty, vegetarian-friendly meals prepared
by an expert cook
- Guided introductions on local archaeology, history, flora,
Photo: Bob Wick
Carrizo Plain is one of our newer National Monuments, nestled between southern
California’s Caliente Mountains on the west and the Temblor Range to the
east. It is traversed by a notable section of the San Andreas Fault and includes
Soda Lake, a “glistening bed of salt." Our trip will take place at
the height of wildflower season, when indigenous baby kit foxes and antelope
squirrels emerge to play, and other wildlife can be seen on the ground and in
the air -- including pronghorn antelopes, burrowing owls, possibly even a Tule
elk or Golden Eagle.
We’ll do whatever will be the most help to the Monument staff in their
ongoing efforts to upgrade the Monument, protecting resources and enhancing
visitor access and enjoyment. Tasks might include installing interpretive signs;
weeding and monitoring invasive plants, including yellow star thistle and tamarisk;
installing and/or modifying fences for pronghorn; general maintenance at the
visitor center, such as establishing a parking area to reduce damage to cultural
and biological resources.
We will be quartered in the compound of the former Washburn Ranch, an area
not open to the general public, which will provide us with a kitchen, showers,
and an area for gathering in the evening. (Driving directions will be given
when needed.) We’ll gather at 2 p.m. on Sunday, April 21, at our assembly
area and set up camp in time to get acquainted and reconnoiter the area before
our welcome dinner. We’ll have four work days, supervised by Monument
staff, and one full day off for hiking, wildlife viewing, botanizing, and deepening
our knowledge of the Carrizo Plain. A trip to see Painted Rock, within the newly
designated National Historic Landmark district, is a likely excursion. The trip
ends after breakfast on Saturday, April 27th, allowing plenty of time for additional
sightseeing within the Monument or elsewhere in southern California on the way
Photo: Karl Geurs
For a site so unspoiled, Carrizo Plain is surprisingly easy to access. From
I-5, one takes Exit 257, then SH-58W all the way across the Temblor Range, continuing
past McKittrick about 30 miles to the Soda Lake/Carrizo Plain Road, where you
turn south and proceed past the Monument boundary (about 7 miles); then another
7 miles to the Goodwin Education Center. From the west, take SH-58 E from U.S.
101 at Santa Margarita. Complete driving directions are on the official Carrizo
Plain website, where there is also a warning not to rely on MapQuest or GoogleMaps
or vehicle GPS -- and a graphic photo of what can happen if you disregard the
warning. With care, two-wheel drive vehicles can be used for this trip. Our
base camp is accessed by an unpaved but well-maintained road.
Accommodations and Food
We’ll be tenting in the compound of the former Washburn Ranch. As noted,
there are showers (although water must be strictly conserved) and a kitchen
that will allow our cook to indulge us with vegetarian-friendly meals -- and
meat “versions” as appropriate to the group. With the assistance
of camper-helpers our cook will provide high-protein, nutritious, and imaginative
meals and snacks suited to the work projects and campers’ needs and preferences.
(Those with food allergies and/or strong preferences should contact the cook
to be sure we can accommodate your needs prior to applying.)
All breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks are included in the trip price,
beginning with dinner April 21st and ending with breakfast on the final day,
April 27th. Please bring a few hard-sided, reusable containers (mess kit, Tupperware,
water bottles, etc.) for packing lunch to take with you to the work site each
day. Within our budget, we strive to choose food options that are organic and
produce the minimum amount of waste. There is clean drinking water available
at the campsite.
Photo: Bob Wick
The work, under supervision of BLM staff, can be moderate to strenuous, depending
on the terrain and weather conditions; no one will be required to work beyond
his or her comfort level. There will be variety in the work projects, so that
people can trade off strenuous for less strenuous tasks. Although there may
be some hiking from staging areas, mostly we will carpool to the different work
sites each day.
Equipment and Clothing
Sturdy boots for work and hiking and heavy leather gloves are a must; long-sleeved
shirts and long, sturdy pants will protect you from thorns and sharp twigs.
Bring a hat to shade from the sun, a bandanna or two, and a warm cap and jacket
for the crisp mornings and evenings. You’ll need a three-season tent with
fly; a camp mattress or pad and sleeping bag comfortable into the low forties,
personal towels, toiletries, and a good sunscreen. The daily temperature range
will likely be into the high 80s in the afternoons, and possibly the 40s at
night. A full equipment list will be sent to registrants.
Cameras, binoculars, and a small telescope for star-gazing (if someone has
one) will be welcome additions!
Work tools and instruction in their use is provided by the BLM staff.
- A plethora of valuable information on the history, ecology, and geology
of the area, along with a beautiful photo gallery (from which the photos in
this brochure appear) is available on the official website of the Carrizo
Plain National Monument at http://www.blm.gov/ca/st/en/fo/bakersfield/Programs/carrizo.html
- Foster, Lynne, Adventuring in the California Desert. Sierra
- MacMahon, James, Deserts. Alfred A. Knopf.
- Bossard, Carla C., John M. Randall, Marc C. Hoshovsky, Invasive
Plants of California's Wildlands. Available free online at http://www.cal-ipc.org/ip/management/ipcw/online.php
Photo: David Keeling
The Sierra Club is an environmentally focused entity. We are concerned about
conservation and sustainability of resources, both locally and globally. Our
work is accomplished by volunteers and aided by a salaried staff, and encourages
grassroots involvement. Our outings seek to empower participants toward greater
understanding, advocacy, and participation in the goals of the Club.
On the Carrizo Plain trip, in addition to learning more about both the native,
re-introduced, and invasive species, we will be working in an area of fragile
beauty, helping to restore and preserve it for others to enjoy. Our expert supervisors
will initiate us into the secrets of this high-desert plain transected by one
of the major fault lines of the world, and of the people who have lived there
in the past: native Americans who left their history in pictures and potsherds,
and settlers who ranched there. We will have some evening programs on conservation
and conservationists; and "conservation moments" during the work day.
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.
Suzanne Ferguson has been staffing Sierra Club Service trips in Florida and the far West since 2005, most often as a cook but also as a leader. While she loves her Florida home, she really looks forward to Service Trips in the austere beauty of the western deserts.
Billie Wolff moved to California from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan a few years ago and started hiking, backpacking, volunteering, and exploring. She went on her first Sierra Club trip to the Redwoods one week after moving to CA, and became a leader for the San Gorgonio and Los Angeles Chapters within a year. Having started planning menus for an outdoor school about 35 years ago in Pennsylvania, she loves making "camp food" and decided after her first Service Trip that she would like to cook.
General Notes About Sierra Club Trips