Congrats Earth Day Runners/Walkers!

April 25, 2011

The 2nd Earth Day 5K Run/Walk was a great success, thanks to so much enthusiasm from our community. Thank you to all 220 runners and walkers who participated! And special thanks to the following:

  • Odwalla, for donating delicious/nutritious (and eco-friendly) post-race goodies
  • Visalia Parks and Recreation, for providing flawless timing of the event
  • Sole2Soul Sports, for providing the finish line, race preparation assistance and pre-race packet pick-up at their store
  • Visalia Runners Club, for providing race preparation assistance and support
  • The Farmer’s Daughter, for providing boxes of organic produce for our overall male and female race winners
  • And all the other volunteers who helped groom the trails and facilitate a smooth race day!
And now, for what you’ve all been waiting for… RESULTS! It was a fast run this year… fifteen runners ran faster than the winning time last year.
Congratulations to everyone who ran and everyone who walked.

Catch a glimpse of the event with the slideshow below. If you didn’t have the privilege of attending this great event, and if you’re wondering what all the high-fiving is about… Earth Day also happens to be National High Five Day… or so I was told.

All photos taken by John Greening.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

(If anyone happened to find an unknown camera in their post-race belongings, please return it to SRT. Thank you.)

Trailblazing Bonanza Success

April 19, 2011

by Niki Woodard

On Saturday, April 16, a group of about 120 volunteers donated their time and muscle to complete a scenic hiking trail at the Homer Ranch Preserve, outside Lemon Cove.

The event truly was a trailblazing bonanza, with diverse members of the community coming out to support the final touches on a new nature preserve that Sequoia Riverlands Trust (SRT) will be opening to the public on May 21, along with Dry Creek Preserve just down the road. SRT also owns and manages Kaweah Oaks Preserve.

The trailblazing event brought together groups of volunteers from the local business community—Southern California Edison and Kawneer—as well as student groups from CSET, Redwood High School’s Pro/Youth HEART program and COS Upward Bound, in addition to other committed volunteers from the community.

In two and a half hours, the volunteers accomplished an incredible amount of work. They scraped clean about 2/3 of a mile of trail that loops along Dry Creek and through the sycamore alluvial woodland.

At eighty degrees, it was a warm spring day for laboring in the sun, but the group remained dedicated and upbeat. Satisfied with a hard day’s work, the trailblazers enjoyed a BBQ dinner at the preserve, provided by Southern California Edison.

Laura Childers, Education and Volunteer Director for Sequoia Riverlands Trust, remarked, “This is the largest volunteer event we’ve ever organized. It’s so neat to see so much community support for this important project.” She went on to say that SRT’s  “volunteer events are all about getting the community to invest in the stewardship of the land.”

In addition to the food supplies contributed by Southern California Edison, Kawneer also contributed above and beyond the hard work that they put into the trails. Kawneer, as part of the parent group Alcoa, encourages partnerships with local nonprofits by contributing donations for employee volunteer work. All told, Kawneer’s twelve employees will bring in about $1500 to SRT’s conservation efforts.

Check out a slideshow of the day’s success, below…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Update on Dry Creek and Homer Ranch Preserves

April 12, 2011

With the opening day only 5 weeks away, the Dry Creek and Homer Ranch Preserves have taken on a new identity. Dressed up in wildflowers and brand new visitor amenities, these new nature preserves are eager to show off their splendor and welcome you to their trails on May 21, 2011.

It’s taken many helping hands to get this far, and there’s plenty more to go. Thank you to all who have shared your time, talent and dedication to the project. Check out the progress at Dry Creek Preserve and Homer Ranch. If you’d like to get involved, sign up for our volunteer e-newsletter by emailing


This slideshow requires JavaScript.


April 5, 2011

by Bill Tweed, as written for his regular column in the Visalia Times Delta (printed April 9, 2011)

Here’s something to celebrate: it’s California Native Plant Week. OK, this may not cure all the world’s ills, but it is worth a moment of your time. Let me tell you why.

California possesses a natural flora of astounding richness. That should come as no surprise, considering how many different environments our state encompasses.

Lupine group, photo by John Greening

Within California, we have just about every environment one can imagine: lush temperate rains forests and barren deserts; rich grasslands and oak woodlands; freshwater marshes and high mountain meadows.

This variety expresses itself in our plant life.  California’s native flora provides some of our state’s most iconic images. Consider our native California fan palms, the Joshua trees, and giant sequoias.

Altogether, California provides a home for about 6,000 species of native plants. Individually, they are adapted to grow in almost every conceivable environment.  We have native plants that are drought tolerant and salt tolerant; plants that live in wet places both cold and warm; plants that grow on cold, dry mountain tops; plants that grace our coastline.

And they’re handsome!  Consider forests of California redwoods; fields of California poppies; wind-sculpted bristlecone pines clinging to desert mountaintops; cactus blooming in our deserts.

Buttery Mariposa, photo by John Greening

Locally, Tulare County’s flora reflects the richness of California. We have amazing plants here. The coniferous forests in our mountains provide a home for the largest trees in the world, and valley oaks add distinguishing beauty to our piece of the Great Central Valley.

Surprisingly, at least to me, we don‘t make nearly as much use of our native plants in our gardens as we ought to.  Drive around Visalia, and you’ll find that most gardens contain no native plants.  We could do better.

If you live in Visalia, why not plant a valley oak?  Consider it an investment in the future. I’m still watching one grow that my mother and I planted in 1956.  With a little luck, it will last for centuries.

Plant an elderberry.  These large native shrubs (small trees sometimes) produce handsome spring flowers and then attract birds with their tight heads of blue berries. The elderberries in my yard bring in an amazing variety of spring and summer feathered visitors.  I never know what I’m going to see.

Why not plant California poppies in your garden?  What possibly could add more color?

Field of poppies, photo by Scott Spear

California Native Plant week formally runs from April 17 through the 23rd. The timing could not be better.  In late April, California’s always amazing spring is usually at its peak.

Hop in your car and go looking for wildflowers. Close to home, try Three Rivers or the hills around Woodlake.  Visit the Carrizo Plain National Monument west of Bakersfield, or make a day-trip to the California Poppy Reserve near Mojave. For more ideas, check out the Theodore Payne Foundation’s very useful weekly California wildflower website at:

April is simply too nice a time of the year to stay indoors, especially after a nice wet winter like the one now ending.  Celebrate Native Plant Week by going outside. See what you can find. Take the family. You won’t regret it.