My Sycamore Canyon

California Native Plants: When in drought, native it out!

In Southern California it is important to remember that water conservation is key.  As droughts rage on, cities pass stricter ordinances on water usage.  Instead of allowing your lawns to go brown, or continuing to water grass despite the water restrictions, the Ameal Moore Nature Center at Sycamore Canyon Wilderness Park has another suggestion: native plants!

Many people ask what they can do to their lawns with the water restrictions. There are of course, various answers to this dry dilemma. You could:

  • Use lava rocks in the yard in place of grass
  • Replace your living grass with artificial grass
  • Leave your lawn as a dirt lot

Or, if those options are not to your liking, you could consider filling your lawn with native plants.   Native plants are perfect for homeowners concerned with water conservation. As they are a part of the surrounding ecosystem, they are perfectly suited for the dry climate that Southern California is famous for.   They do not require more than the usual amount of rainfall, have their own defenses against pests, require less maintenance compared to non-natives, and they can look great and come in a variety of colors!

There are many reasons to consider the switch from non-natives to natives:

  • Native plants are low maintenance
  • Native plants require less chemicals or pesticides (they have natural defenses against local threats)
  • You will have lower water bills
  • You will be conserving water
  • You will not have to be concerned about brown lawns during restricted water use months

If you are unsure of what natives to plant, check with your local nursery for information and suggestions. There are also nurseries that only carry native plant species. You can check online to see if they are in your neighborhood. Nurseries should be able to tell you what specific plants are best for your area.

For additional information, you can check out some of these sources:

Sources:  United States.  Riverside-Corona Conservation District. Wild About Natives. n.d. Print.

 

Please take our survey

The nature center is currently designing educational programming that will be free to the public in the Fall.  In order to help us create better programming, please take a moment to answer our three point survey (available in English and Spanish) located on our home page.  By taking a moment to answer the survey, you’ll help us ensure that we provide better, more engaging programs for visitors of all ages.

The Ameal Moore Nature Center: putting the pieces together

The nature center officially opened to the public June 14, 2014.  The nature center project was envisioned to combine environmental preservation, the demonstration of activities, and educational programs that would serve diverse visitor groups in order to reconnect visitors to the land and natural resources in the Sycamore Canyon Wilderness Park.  Currently, the newly opened center is approximately 1,000 square feet and houses an exhibition space and restrooms.

The process of assembling the center occurred in December 2013.  The building itself is a manufactured building that came in two pieces.  Once the pieces arrived by highway it was a matter of placing them on the foundation and connecting the pieces.  To walk into the center today you would never think that the building had at one time been split down the middle.  17 skylights of various shapes and sizes provide the building with adequate light during the summer daylight hours helping the building to be eco-friendly.

Visitors are encouraged to come into the center to see the finished product and to speak with staff.  Hands on learning and children’s crafts are available for all ages to enjoy.  The center will begin running educational programs regularly in the Fall of 2014.

What’s in the park?

The Sycamore Canyon Wilderness Park is a large 1,500 acre public open space park that is one of eight protected, core reserves.  Designated by the Riverside County Habitat Conservation Agency (RCHCA) for the Federally-listed endangered species Dipodomys stephensi, the Stephens’ kangaroo rat (SKR), the park serves as both a habitat and a recreational hub.

Visitors are welcome to explore, hike, bike, jog, bird watch, and generally enjoy the wonders of nature.  Generally, when visitors come into the nature center they are curious to know what animals they may run into while at the park.  The park is home to mammals, reptiles, insects, arachnids, birds, and plants- nearly 100 of which are classified as rare, sensitive, threatened, or endangered.

Observable park fauna can include:

  • Mammals: Agile kangaroo rat, Beechey’s ground squirrel, Cactus mouse, Common gray fox, Coyote, Deer mouse, Desert cottontail, Striped skunk, Valley pocket gopher, Virginia opossum
  • Reptiles: California legless lizard, Granite spiny lizard, Night snake, Red diamond rattlesnake, Side-blotched lizard, Southern alligator lizard
  • Insects: Anise swallowtail, Bordered plant bug, Cabbage white butterfly, Cloudless sulfur, Fiery skipper, Leafhopper assassin bug, Monarch butterfly, Red-shouldered stink bug, Sara or Pacific orangetip, Say stink bug, Vivid dancer, Western pygmy-blue, Western tiger swallowtail
  • Birds: American crow, American kestrel, American robin, Anna’s hummingbird, Bewick’s wren, Black phoebe, California quail, California thrasher, California towhee, Canyon wren, Cassin’s kingbird, Common raven, Common yellowthroat, Downy woodpecker, Ferruginous hawk, Hooded oriole, house finch, Killdeer, Lawrence’s goldfinch, Lesser goldfinch, Loggerhead shrike, Mourning dove, Northern flicker, Nuttall’s woodpecker, Orange-crowned warbler, Phainopepla, Rock wren, Say’s phoebe, Song sparrow, Swainson’s hawk, Turkey vulture, Violet-green swallow, Western bluebird, Western kingbird, White-crowned sparrow, White-throated swift, Willow flycatcher, Yellow-rumped warbler

 

Some visitors become alarmed or nervous when hearing about the various reptiles they may encounter in the park.  However, like most wildlife, if left alone the reptiles will leave you alone as well.  Here are some other helpful tips and rules for the park to make your visit fun, safe, and enjoyable.

  • Pay attention!  Rattlesnakes may or may not alert you to their presence.  If you hear a rattle snake, stop and walk away.  If you see a rattlesnake, avoid it.  By paying attention and leaving the snake alone, you can avoid any unwanted situations.
  • Keep children close by.  Keeping children close to you and teaching them to listen for the various wildlife will keep the fun going and will ensure safety.
  • Respect the wildlife.  The park is not just a great recreational spot for people.  It’s also the home of many species.  Please respect the wildlife and be aware that this is their home.
  • Share the paths.  Being courteous of other visitors is a great way to ensure that your visit as well as theirs is fun and safe.  We also ask that you be courteous of the various species that also use the paths.
  • Keep dogs on a leash and pick up after them.

 

Grand opening!

The Ameal Moore Nature Center at Sycamore Canyon Wilderness Park (presented by the Riverside Metropolitan Museum and its partners) is officially open to the public! Family members of the late three-time Council member, Mr. Ameal Moore, were in attendance as were City of Riverside civil servants, and members of the Riverside community. After official opening ceremonies, visitors were encouraged to view the newly built and furbished center.

Inside the center visitors could handle objects on display for hands-on learning, view demonstrations of the City of Riverside’s free ‘Riverside Nature Spotter’ app (available in Apple iOS AppStore & Google store for Android), and meet the staff of the center. Directly outside the center door visitors were encouraged to plant their own wildflower seeds and take them home. More free educational and family friendly programs will be available through the center during regular opening hours which are currently set for summer on Saturdays and Sundays from 9am to 5pm.

Nature Center Construction Zone!

The final touches are being put on the Ameal Moore Nature Center at Sycamore Canyon Wilderness Park presented by the Riverside Metropolitan Museum and its partners. Today, large informational wall panels are being hung in preparation for the grand opening on Saturday June 14, 2014.

Riverside Citizen Science

Riverside Citizen ScienceOur Mission:
The mission of Riverside Citizen Science is to engage our community in observing and documenting Riverside’s natural environment. The program will foster appreciation and stewardship through nature-centered activities. Science, through community participation and collaboration, becomes a permanent part of our city’s culture, and identity.

In 2010, the City of Riverside was awarded a National Park Service Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program community assistance grant to help plan and design the City-wide citizen science program, contributing professional facilitation and leadership to the strategic planning process for this collaboration. In February of 2011, a working group was formed of representatives from each agency, working in monthly meetings to create a vision statement, plus strategic and action plans. During this formative time, the City of Riverside was awarded two California State Parks grants: a 2011 Nature Education Facilities Program grant for construction of a nature center at Riverside’s Sycamore Canyon Wilderness Park, and a 2012 Habitat Conservation Fund grant supporting education programming at the new facility. As Sycamore Canyon park will be the primary location for Riverside’s initial citizen science efforts, it has become an important point of reference for the framing of this plan’s goals and objectives. Fulfillment of this strategic plan will result in citizen science activities taking place throughout the greater Riverside area.

Our Vision:
We envision the Riverside Citizen Science program as being the primary means of communicating to the public the significance of the natural resources found in all the City’s parks and natural areas, resulting in ongoing, community-based stewardship of and improved natural resource management practices by the community, at home and elsewhere. Data collected by this community-based program will be used to support City-wide discussion of the present challenges facing local ecosystems, and to document the effectiveness of open space protection and habitat restoration projects supporting native species.

Riverside Citizen Science Partners:
City of Riverside Metropolitan Museum
City of Riverside Parks, Recreation and Community Services
University of California, Riverside
Riverside-Corona Resource Conservation District
National Park Service: Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance
The US Forest Service Pacific Southwest Research Station, Riverside

If you’re interested in becoming a Citizen Scientist and helping with Citizen Science projects, visit Riverside Citizen Science online or visit us at the nature center every 3rd Saturday of the month all day for information and instruction on a spotlighted project (projects differ each month) during our C.S.I. days!

Events

Welcome to our events page!  Here you’ll find descriptions of our events listed on our calendar under the ‘About’ tab.  Here you’ll also be able to register for any events that will require a sign up.

EVENTS:

The Grand Opening and Dedication Ceremony will take place on Saturday, June 14, 2014 at 9:00 am. Join the City of Riverside for a special dedication ceremony for the Ameal Moore Nature Center in honor of late three-term Riverside City Councilmember Ameal Moore.

Nature Spotter

Download the Nature Spotter App in Apple or Google Store!

Download the Nature Spotter App in for Apple or Google!

The Riverside Nature Spotter app is a handy tool that helps nature lovers share their observations –whether it be an insect, plant, animal, or other living thing. Spotters can send a photo with questions about what they’ve seen and a Naturalist will reply with feedback. Observations will be collected and used to create an online database to share with fellow Nature Spotters. So get outdoors, take or choose a photo, and send with your comments or questions!

A volunteer uses the Nature Spotter App to photograph a Black Widow spiderWhere do my photos go? Photos sent using the app or by email will be sent to a naturalist from the Riverside Citizen Science project, who will identify the insect, plant, animal, or other natural subject you send. Please feel free to ask any questions you may have about it and provide any helpful information you feel may be of use. The photos will then be placed into our Riverside Citizen Science online database on the inaturalist website so that this information can be shared and viewed by other nature spotters. If you would not like to have your photos shared, but would still like to get feedback from our naturalist, then please include that in your message when you send it.

There are 2 ways to become a nature spotter!

1. Download the Free App
Iphone/Apple Users:  Apple iOS AppStore
Android Users: Google Store

2.Send photos to naturespotter@riversideca.gov

This is a project of the Riverside Citizen Science program. This application was developed by the City of Riverside, CA Information Technology department working with Riverside Metropolitan Museum, the Parks, Recreation, and Community Services Department, and their Riverside Citizen Science partners.