Tag: San Bernardino National Forest

Critters vs. Litter

Big Bear Lake, CA, July 2, 2014 – With year round recreation, the San Bernardino National Forest is one of the busiest in the country. But with more visitors comes extra litter, and the Forest Service is asking for public cooperation in keeping the area garbage-free. Some environmental effects are obvious. Plastics take decades to disintegrate and aluminum cans last in the environment forever. Trash contaminates soil and important water resources. Here’s a more shocking statistic: Nationwide, about 10,000,000 animals die from litter-related causes every year. Birds, mammals, and reptiles can be injured or killed by ingesting or being strangled by plastic bags, and can be poisoned by contaminated water. The Southern California Mountains Foundation coordinates 600 volunteers annually to help with litter abatement on public lands, and it’s still not enough. Collectively, they clean up over five tons of garbage each year from San Bernardino County forests and parks. The volume of trash is growing every day and the costs of cleanup and public education are rising too. Leaving that one can or bag behind might not seem like it has a big impact, but think about how it adds up, and take a moment to recycle or dispose of it...

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The Legend of Castle Rock

Big Bear Lake, CA, May 3, 2014 – Rising out of the mountains at the southwest end of the lake, standing like a sentinel keeping watch over Big Bear, is Castle Rock. There is a Serrano Indian legend that surrounds Castle Rock from a time long ago when Big Bear was known as Yuhaviat, which means ‘pine place’. The legend tells of a beautiful young girl named Wyhnemah who once lived in Yuhaviat. All the young men of the tribe were constantly competing with each other for her attention, but she only cared for one young brave named Pahwek. He was a hunter and whenever he was gone on hunting trips to get food for the tribe, Wyhnemah would climb to the top of Castle Rock and watch for his return.When she would see him in the distance, she would climb down and run to meet him. On one such trip, Pahwek did not return when he was supposed to. As the days and weeks went by, Wyhnemah came to realize that something was terribly wrong and that he would never be coming home. Not wanting to live her life without her true love, she climbed to the top of Castle Rock one evening and with a prayer on her lips, Wyhnemah stepped off the edge to join Pahwek forever in the happy hunting...

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Pebble Plain Habitat… Only in Big Bear

Big Bear Valley, CA, April 12, 2014 – When the glaciers receded during the Pleistocene Age, they created unique open areas covered with miniature rare plants found only in Big Bear. These areas are known as pebble plains and have a soil composition of quartzite pebbles, deposited over eons, which prevent conifers from taking seed, thus preserving this ancient habitat for many millennia. The Pebble Plain is home to seventeen protected plant species and four rare kinds of butterflies. Three of these butterflies are found nowhere else in the world. The plants are accustomed to the exact kind of soil found in the pebble plain. They receive just enough moisture and the right amount of sunlight they need to grow. Pebble plain habitats are open patches of rocks surrounded by Junipers, Pinions, and other pines. Plants and grasses grow low and sparse between the pebbles. There are pebble plains in the Baldwin Lake area, Gold Mountain, Holcomb Valley, Sugarloaf Ridge, and a series of ridge plateaus in Moonridge called the Sawmill Complex. These areas are very fragile and the plants in this community grow very slowly, so when something disturbs the soil or pebbles, or crushes the plants, weeds that don’t belong there quickly move in. 150 acres of pebble plain were lost when Big Bear Lake was created. Gold mining, cattle grazing, rock collecting, off road vehicles, development,...

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Bald Eagles Return to Big Bear Year After Year

Big Bear Lake, CA, March 8, 2014 – Migrating bald eagles love to winter in the San Bernardino Mountains with most of them choosing Big Bear Lake as their winter home. They’re usually found near water because their diet is primarily made up of fish and ducks. Sometimes during particularly cold nights, Coots, a breed of bird on our lake, will get stuck in the ice which make them easy prey for the eagles, earning them the nickname, Cootsicles. Once on the brink of extinction, breeding populations of bald eagles in Southern California had been completely wiped out by the late 1950s and the southern-most nest site known in California was north of San Francisco in Lake County. Reintroduction efforts began in the 1980s on Catalina Island. In fact, a female hatched at the San Francisco Zoo in 2000 was released on Catalina and in 2004 made her way to Lake Hemet and decided to take up year round residence with the male eagle already there. However, the first successful bald eagle nesting ever recorded in the San Bernardino Mountains happened right here in Big Bear Lake. Through radio tracking, biologists have learned that many of the same individual eagles return year after year. Some of our eagles were tracked all the way to the Northwest Territories in Canada which is a 2000 mile trip one-way, while others only...

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A Fugitive in Our Midst: Christopher Dorner in Retrospect

Big Bear Lake, CA, February 10, 2014 – In February of 2013, many of us began following the news of a disturbed, disgruntled ex-cop as he crisscrossed southern California: A pair of murders in Irvine, an attempted boat theft in San Diego, an officer shot in Corona, and a fatal ambush in Riverside. It was chilling to watch Christopher Dorner’s path of vengeance, even from afar. And then, he was in our neighborhood. On Thursday, February 7th, CNN published Dorner’s manifesto, in which the former Navy marksman said his killing spree was in retribution for his wrongful termination from the LAPD. The same day, his Nissan Titan was found abandoned and on fire in the San Bernardino National Forest. The County Sheriff’s Department set up a command post in the nearby parking lot of Bear Mountain Resort, and began a massive manhunt aided by SWAT teams with snowcats and, when the heavy snow allowed, aerial searches. Schools in the Bear Valley Unified School District went on lockdown, and did not reopen the next day. On Sunday the 10th, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced a $1 million reward for information leading to Dorner’s arrest and conviction. Meanwhile, searchers in Big Bear continued to trudge through the forest in knee-deep snow, and check hundreds of empty vacation cabins. Local children went back to school on Monday, but were in another...

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