Santa Rosa Plateau is a local jewel to behold
Last updated 4/4/2019 at 4:14pm
Spring is the season to be out and about and enjoy nature and all the spring wildflowers happening at the Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve which is so abundant this year after the winter rains. The plateau is in Riverside County, just north of Fallbrook and west of Murrieta on Clinton Keith Road.
This 9,000-acre reserve is where a treasure of indigenous oaks, native grasslands, vernal pools, reptiles, amphibians, birds and a bounty of springtime flowers and even chocolate lilies coexist in harmony.
The plateau's mild climate made the area ideal habitat for Native Americans, beginning thousands of years ago as hunters and gathers. It was also part of the large Vail Ranch which raised cattle for decades and eventually sold the land to the Kaiser Steel Company which master planned "Rancho California" The plateau lands were acquired by several agencies and are now under protection.
There are miles of various length trails to explore, and it is requested that visitors stay on those guided footpaths. Directional signs will point to the many points of interest. Besides the abundance of native flora, the preserve is a host to an array of mammals like the opossum, coyote, raccoon, badger, skunk, spotted bat, brush rabbit, gray fox, bobcats and much more.
In the amphibian and reptile world, hikers might spot a salamander, California toad, Pacific tree frog, pond turtle, alligator lizard, rosy boa, king snake, Pacific rattlesnake and more.
For bird watchers, make sure to bring along some binoculars for spotting a hummingbird, western scrub-jay, acorn woodpecker, hooded orioles, horned lark red-shouldered hawk, orange-crowned warbler, grasshopper sparrows, California quail or roadrunner, to name a few.
When guests stop at the visitors center, check with the ranger what birds and other animals have been seen lately and some of the various locations. Some favored bird locations have been the Adobe area, Hidden Valley trailhead, Monument Hill area and along Via Volcano Road. So look for birds in the oak woodlands, chaparral, grasslands and riparian area and around the vernal pools.
The native reserve is also the migratory trail for mountain lions traveling from the Santa Ana Mountains through the preserve and continuing down into Baja California and Mexico.
With the rich and diverse flora and fauna, the reserve is a wealth of sights to enjoy and appreciate, but be respectful while enjoying this grand experience. And remember that if you pack it in, you must pack it out. Take some water and a camera for some great memories to look back on. Remember that it might be a while before this bumper crop of wildflowers returns, so seize the season.
If this floriferous and colorful spring has captured your soul, rededicate yourself to helping and caring for Mother Earth. Make a commitment to an environmental cause, go volunteer and be a part of the wave helping to heal the hurts to the earth that man has caused, for we all are part of the solution.
"Lose yourself in nature and find inner peace."
Roger Boddaert Maker of Natural Gardens and the Tree Man of Fallbrook can be reached for consultations and ecological landscape designs at (760) 728-4297.