Tag: San Bernardino National Forest

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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Single-Digit Humidity + Gusty Winds = Fire Watch

San Bernardino Mountains, January 23, 2014 – There is a Fire Weather Watch in effect late tonight through Friday night, due to increasingly dry conditions and strong winds. A Fire Weather Watch means that critical fire weather conditions are forecast to occur (which would be accompanied by a Red Flag Warning). During the last Fire Weather Warning earlier this month (January 12-14), the San Bernardino County Fire Department expanded its initial attack resources and added additional firefighters to its deployment plan. Those traveling up or down the mountain between Thursday and Friday night should be aware that the wind gusts will be especially strong through passes and canyons leading down to the inland valley–up to 45 miles an hour at times. All residents and visitors should keep in mind that with the lack of rainfall and snow pack making vegetation a tinderbox, it’s more dangerous than ever to leave campfires unattended, discharge a firearm or throw cigarette butts onto the ground. The San Bernardino National Forest could once again have daytime humidities in the single digits with poor nighttime recovery. Humidity will remain extremely low over local mountains and valleys through Saturday. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, which is suspending burning permits at 6:00 a.m. January 24, said in a press release, “With no significant rainfall in the near future, the risk of wildfires over the...

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The Trouble With Conifers

Big Bear City, CA, January 16, 2014 – For all the work trees do to clean our air, pollinating trees are the bane of allergy sufferers. This week, the unseasonably warm weather and windy conditions are making the situation worse. Several websites that rate pollen levels on a scale from 1 to 12 show Big Bear averaging 9.1 over the next few days, with two of the biggest culprits being cedar and juniper. Friday will score the highest on the allergy index at 9.9. Pollen counts tend to be highest early in the morning on warm, breezy days and lowest during chilly, wet periods. Normally, Big Bear would see about 4.33” of rain during January, along with 14.2” of snow. But the area has seen zero precipitation so far, and none is expected by the end of the month. The National Institute of Health says approximately 35 million Americans complain of respiratory symptoms from pollen allergies. People with the most severe symptoms may want to avoid travel during sunny, windy weather, and wear face masks when working...

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