Friends of Daley Ranch Board Minutes

March 21, 2018


Present: Colleen Mackinnon, Jim Schafer, Rick Paul, Dick Althouse, Fred Woods, Liz Ridder, Jerry Harmon and Rick Mercurio


Minutes and Treasurer’s Report: Colleen opened the meeting at 7:15 pm at the Althouse home. The revised minutes from the February meeting were approved by acclamation. Rick P submitted a print out of his treasurer’s report. He also has submitted tax documents on behalf of FODR.


El Caballo Entrance: Rick P showed a photo of the recently completed entry gate to Daley Ranch from the new El Caballo Park. The Board was very pleased with the finished product. The new gate, however, is a short distance away from the existing entrance to Caballo Trail, which may have a kiosk there. Colleen and possibly Rick M will take a close look at this on April 7 to suggest ways to align the trail and entrance features with the new gate.


School Visits: Fred explained several challenges for this year’s trips. First, the bus company refused to let its drivers take students up to the ranch house, necessitating revisions to the program. Also, due to personnel shortages, the visits for March 20 and 21 were cancelled by Dan H. Rescheduling the trips was problematic because buses are not available. Fred quickly responded by arranging our docents to visit Rincon School, with a rotating schedule, so that students would get much of the same content as they would have up at DR. Both days have been a success, because of Fred’s commitment and organization.

The projector and screen used by Rick M for the history learning station are old and weak. Rick P may be able to obtain a newer model projector. If not, the Board may consider a purchase.


Collaboration: Fred explained that Al Bates, one of the docents for school trips, is also a trainer for the “Leave No Trace” organization. This program brings awareness of the human impacts to the environment in natural settings. Al asked about the difference between a “preserve” and a mitigation bank. After discussion, the Board concluded that not all preserves are mitigation banks, but indeed all mitigation banks are technically preserves. Therefore DR is a preserve. Either way, we do welcome whatever help Al may provide in expanding student awareness of proper etiquette in nature.

Fred also mentioned that a representative of Ecolife, Kait Cole, may attend the April 10 student field trip to learn about our program and explore possibilities of working together in the future.


Prop 68: Rick and Colleen expressed their support for Prop 68, a bond measure on June’s ballot that would fund a variety of projects around the state, including drought issues, conservation and open space acquisition. Most major environmental organizations have endorsed the measure. Rick M moved that FODR officially endorse Prop 68. Colleen seconded. The motion passed 6-1-1, with Rick P voting no and Dick abstaining.


Newsletter: Colleen will write a short piece on the January field trip to DR by Conway’s fifth graders. Fred will write about the 7th grade trips. Jim will write an update on the GSOB issue. We will keep our Save1000Acres box. Rick M will write a brief endorsement article for Prop 68. And Denise Harter will write a piece on the weasel. Deadline for all articles and photos is April 1, sending them to Rick M and Bruce Swanson.


Save1000Acres: Recently a DR user from Hidden Meadows suggested that we post a sign about Save1000Acres at the Cougar Pass entrance. The Board agreed this was a good idea. Colleen will try to accomplish this, by obtaining a smaller notice and seeing if she can post it to the small kiosk there.


Plant Signs and Interpretive Trail: Rick M suggested that FODR continue to work on repairing and/or replacing the existing plant signs at DR. He also proposed creating an interpretive trail, perhaps near the ranch house, with fixed signs and a trail guide, and maybe QR barcodes. He noted that interpretive trails are a popular tool for educating the public about not only flora, but also other features such as fauna, history, geology and possibly Native American culture.


Wildlife Tracking: Liz has met with Denise H in order to coordinate efforts to document wildlife presence and movement, particularly on the eastern edge of DR. There is a dearth of data, which will be imperative in the future if we are to make a habitat impact case against the Daley Ranch Resort proposal. Liz has access to remote cameras that could be used at the three wildlife underpasses along Valley Center Road. She also has two students who may help, one who is paid and another who has gone through Rick Halsey’s Chaparral Institute training.

Liz noted that the DR Master Plan calls for annual biological monitoring of DR. The Board explained that this has not been done, despite FODR’s ongoing reminders to the City of this obligation. Liz would like to examine all prior studies of the DR habitat, which include the Merkel Report and James Dillane’s original survey. The Board applauds Liz’s pursuit of this data and her efforts to obtain additional findings.


TECC Intern and Fellowship: Colleen informed the Board that a joint funding request from TECC and FODR for a “conservation fellowship” had been awarded, in the amount of nearly $10,000. The Board discussed possible uses of these funds. In addition, TECC’s executive director, Ann Van Leer, has made arrangements for her daughter, Rose, to serve as an intern for FODR this summer, under the tutelage of Colleen. Rick M moved to accept this offer. Rick P seconded and the motion passed unanimously. The Board discussed possible projects for Rose, and agreed that the interpretive trail and restoration of plant signs could be one workable goal. Another could be assisting Liz and Denise with the wildlife cameras. Rick M will meet with Rose next week.


History Center Book: Colleen said that the Escondido History Center is planning a new book focusing on the 30 years since Alan McGrew’s edition in 1988 for the City’s centennial celebration. The cost of a page in the new book, which could be dedicated to FODR and our “story,” is $1800. Jerry expressed support for local history endeavors such as this, as did Colleen and Rick M, and the Board agreed to learn more about the specifics. Colleen will invite a representative from the History Center to FODR’s April meeting to inform us about the project.


GSOB Update: Jim has been working tirelessly on bringing together experts to assess and address the GSOB at DR. Stacy McCline has also donated her time and expertise to gather information and help with the process. Despite taking samples and other efforts by City employees, including its arborist, and Stacy and Jim, more documentation of the infestation is needed. Jim is trying to stay in the loop with the City and get treatment to selected oaks this season.


Daley Ranch Resort: Rick P officially requested that the City share the plans for the proposed resort, which were recently submitted by the developer. The City agreed to do so, but it may take a couple weeks.


Next meeting: The next regular meeting will be on April 18 at 7 p.m. at the Train Depot in Grape Day Park.


Respectfully submitted,

Rick Mercurio