We are excited to announce the creation of our own little nature area! The nature area has been established to protect the remaining riparian habitat and to create a wildlife refuge during the busy summer months. The nature area is a nice, quiet spot to sit and enjoy the river, read your book or even do some yoga. It’s also a great spot for those interested in wild life viewing. We often see great blue heron, king fishers, and occasionally an otter along the river shore. In the spring we see mule deer and California quails nesting and exploring with their young. This spring we had a female turkey nest and raise her chicks just outside the nature area in site ‘L’.. There is also a resident woodpecker who loves to hang out in a giant cottonwood right by the river and create quite the ruckus. We believe protecting this open space and continuing to create green corridors throughout camp is increasingly important as more local habitat is lost and degraded due to increased human activity. This has been a work in progress for two seasons now and this year we have moved onto the next phase, planting! Before we got to this point, we had to do some major clean up, removing years of flood debris and roadside litter. We are continually working on the loop trail that leads to the new nature area, which is accessible from the beach trail or between sites ‘K’ and ‘L’ (see map below). Since the river level has dropped, the loop trail has finally opened back up for the season!
In the spring of 2018 we extended the loop trail to include the area now known as the nature area. This little piece of paradise was left untouched for years and was mainly used by staff. We noticed that some people were taking advantage of this by creating their own trails to explore the wilderness and even sneaking in from the roadside. As we began to find more and more trash and evidence of humans, we decided it was time to do something to manage this. By extending the trail it makes it evident that this area is still part of Camp Lotus and discourages people from parking along the road and sneaking in. In addition, this made our nature trail longer and a little more exciting. We want to encourage our campers to explore their local environment and to notice and appreciate the diversity of plants and animals thriving at Camp Lotus. An established trails allows people to do just that, while being respectful of the wildlife and not trampling all of the habitat space.
This spring we spent a few days doing debris removal to make sure the nature area was trash free. This area is in the flood zone, and as it is the upstream boundary of the Camp Lotus property it definitely gets hit hard on high water years. If you’ve ever done any sort of river clean-up, you’ll be familiar with the crazy stuff the river can pick up and deposit during a flood. We removed three truckloads of trash ranging from old rusty tin to pieces of fridges, mattresses, barrels and more. The Nature area also borders the road which is an ongoing source of litter. We found many water bottles, beer bottles, food packaging and all sorts of trash along the road.
Once the nature area was all cleaned up, we went to work adding signs, benches and barriers so explorers know where the boundaries are and have a nice place to sit and enjoy the wildlife. We purposely left the back end of our property out of the trail so there is some true, inaccessible natural area for wildlife to thrive without human intervention. We will not be doing any plant removal or planting in this wildlife habitat area. We created a driftwood ‘fence’ as a visual barrier to keep humans out but allow animals to move freely. We have planted a row of cedar trees and will be adding additional shrubs to make a living barrier to keep this area private for our animal friends.
Adittionally, this spring we began working on our planting plan! We removed some unwanted plants like scotch broom, hemlock and Himalayan blackberry. As you will notice while walking the trail, the nature area has a large open meadow with mostly locust trees, many which have fallen over during floods. Our goal is to increase the habitat quality and cover for species we often see nesting including mule deer, turkey and CA quails. We started experimenting with transplanting local seedlings and had a few western red buds and manzanita survive. We also spread native wild flower seeds and had a thriving population of poppies, lupines and other wildflowers. This fall we plan to continue experimenting with transplanting seedlings as well as planting other native shrubs from local nurseries.
If you spend a few minutes on the loop trail or in the nature area, you will no doubt run into a squirrel, hawk, deer or other wild animal. Additionally we have many beautiful native plants to enjoy including many species of oaks, pines, manzanita, CA poppies and more. We treasure the fact that we encounter several species of wildlife daily at Camp Lotus and strive to keep a balance between having amenities for our campers to enjoy without negatively affecting the natural habitat. We want to share our appreciation for nature and our little slice of paradise with everyone who passes through. So whether it’s your first time at Camp Lotus, or your hundredth, we encourage you to walk the trail, or find a bench and just spend a few minutes enjoying the wildlife, you never know what you might see.