Friends of Daley Ranch Minutes: Annual Retreat

February 26, 2022


Present: Jerry Harmon, Ron Franzese, Marilyn Ramirez, Brocade Wu, Dick Althouse, and Rick Mercurio. Jerry opened the meeting at 10 a.m. at Rick’s home.

Officers: The Board unanimously affirmed the continuation of each Board member’s term for 2022 including all those present at this meeting and Fred Woods who is absent. The Board also confirmed unanimously the continuation of its two officers for 2022: President Jerry Harmon and Secretary-Treasurer Rick Mercurio.

Minutes: Rick shared the minutes from the October meeting which were approved by acclamation

Treasurer’s Report: Rick displayed the line item accounting for December, January and February. He also displayed the full income and expense record for all of 2021. Please reach out to FODR if you would like us to send this to you.

Budget: Rick displayed a proposed budget for 2022 which included expenses for 2021 for comparison. The Board adjusted the amount for the barn restoration to $10,000. The budget will be available upon request.

Restricted Funds: FODR’s restricted funds are in two categories. About $9600 is in a sub-account at Mission Federal Credit Union, designated on behalf of the Daley Ranch Volunteer Association (DRVA), which is no longer active. This fund had been intended for an interpretive display at Daley Ranch. Marilyn agreed to explore possibilities of a moveable (portable) display case for possible use at the Ranch House or at other locations.

7th Grade Field Trips: The other category of restricted funds is designated for the 7th grade field trip program. Fred Woods had indicated that this year’s field trips were cancelled due to Covid and ranger staffing issues. Fred has requested that FODR be allowed to retain the remaining funds from the ECF grant for future educational trips or purposes, and ECF replied that they will take that request under consideration. Other grants from previous years that were designated for this program are still retained by FODR for future use.
 The Board discussed ideas for a more permanent funding source for the 7th grade trips. One suggestion was to formally request ongoing funding from SDG&E in an amount that would sustain the trips annually. Rick agreed to contact SDG&E’s representative, Morgan, to explore this possibility. Another idea is to ask both the San Diego Foundation and the Escondido Community Foundation if they might make the 7th grade trips part of their ongoing grant programs.

Interpretive Trail: Rick has been making slow but steady progress on this project. The two Audubon signs are ready for the design process, and Rick hopes to work with Fast Signs in the near future to produce those. The wording includes a Spanish translation, as will all the signs. Rick Halsey has finalized wording for the habitat sign. Various Native American volunteers are close to finalizing two of their three signs. Rick is working with Rangers Gregg Anderson and Kealy Fox on two animal signs, and is now seeking photos for them. Rick has also finalized wording and translation for the history sign. James Dillane has agreed to work on two plant signs. Rick has prepared a budget for this project, which will be attached to these minutes. He is counting on volunteer labor to mount the signs and to build the kiosk. Ron agreed to help calculate actual costs for the lumber and other supplies needed for the kiosk, based on plans from an Eagle Scout project.

Trails: In 2021 FODR contributed $5000 toward a comprehensive Trail Assessment project. The Board discussed our philosophy on this subject, with the consensus being in favor of making current trails more sustainable, for example establishing erosion controls. But the Board opposes construction of new trails to new destinations. The Board also opposes the use of electric bikes at Daley Ranch, which now allows them.

Barn Restoration: Yesterday, Dick finished framing a section of the barn. The next phase is center posts with footings and exterior siding. Dick is working through various issues, including City requirements. Anchoring must be formally inspected and approved. Dick hopes to get the framing, nailing, and foundation inspections completed before he leaves for summer. Things are going well, he said. We have a new volunteer, George Hood, who is a professional carpenter.

Iron Ranger: Dick said that the iron ranger was vandalized two weeks ago. Dick has been emptying it regularly, so the amount of money in it is kept at a minimum at any given time. He hopes this will dissuade further vandalism.

Social Media: Brocade encourages us to check out the FODR Facebook page. A member has set up motion-sensor wildlife cameras at Daley Ranch and she has posted his photos, which have generated a great deal of positive responses. Brocade said we have had as many as 10,000 “hits” on Facebook, including many “likes” and responses. She agreed to follow up on a Go Fund Me page to support the barn project.

Deer Park: Ron reminded us that we want to maintain our connection with the Deer Park Monastery. They are planning some replanting with native species in their area, and Ron will be helping with that. Jerry asked Ron to follow up with the woman associated with Deer Park who had expressed an interest in possibly joining our Board. The Board would like to invite Deer Park representatives to our annual lunch event. They are good partners in our efforts to encourage preservation at Daley Ranch.

Preservation Emphasis: Brocade suggested filming a video of Jerry describing the acquisition of Daley Ranch that we could post on our website. This could mirror his remarks at the last annual picnic. The emphasis would be on the environmental protection that was accomplished with the City’s purchase of the Preserve. Jerry added that he wants to continue to plant the seed that we need to preserve more open space in North County, including Rancho Guejito. The Board discussed its desire to promote preservation of the habitat as one of FODR’s primary goals, recognizing the need to counter balance pressure for more recreational opportunities. To that end, Marilyn volunteered to investigate the status of the 2020 written agreement between the City and the Wildlife agencies to biologically monitor Daley Ranch. FODR wants to be kept in the loop and receive the reports that the City has agreed to provide. Marilyn and Jerry will also investigate the status of the mitigation bank funds, including access to income and outgo from both funds. Again, FODR wants to receive regular, ongoing reports from the City.

Goals and Objectives: Ron believes that we may want to have a dedicated time to establish longer term plans and organization. The Board agreed that at this point we would prefer to do this without a consultant, but that we would need to set aside a few hours for the process.

Events at Daley Ranch: Dick said that the blacksmithing community at the Bandy shop has sometimes gone “on the road” to showcase their craft, and he wondered if FODR might want to sponsor such an event at the Ranch House area. This would be a weekend when we would need to shuttle visitors there, and possibly provide refreshments. Dick also saw this an opportunity to let folks view the barn and its progress. He hopes to turn it into a fundraising event if that could be possible. The Board liked this idea and Dick will check with Phil Ewing to see if he might be interested.

April Newsletter: Rick asked for ideas, which include him interviewing the new on-site caretakers for a feature along with photos of them. Rick will also compile the list of donors. Jerry will write a President’s message. Brocade will send photos of animals from the member who uses a motion-sensor camera, after getting his permission to do so.

Next meeting: Tuesday, March 29, 2 p.m. at Dick’s house

Respectfully submitted,

Rick Mercurio