Mountain Lion Sighting on Montini Preserve

Please be aware, Trail Friends: A mountain lion was sighted on the Montini Preserve this week. Be sure to hike with friends and only in full daylight hours.

Staying Safe in Mountain Lion Country

Mountain lions are quiet, solitary and elusive, and typically avoid people. Mountain lion attacks on humans are extremely rare. However, conflicts can occur as California’s human population expands into mountain lion habitat.

  • Do not hike, bike, or jog alone.
  • Avoid hiking or jogging when mountain lions are most active—dawn, dusk, and at night.
  • Keep a close watch on small children.
  • Do not approach a mountain lion.
  • If you encounter a mountain lion, do not run; instead, face the animal, make noise and try to look bigger by waving your arms; throw rocks or other objects. Pick up small children.
  • If attacked, fight back.
  • If a mountain lion attacks a person, immediately call 911. 

That orange peel you just tossed aside? Yeah, don’t do that.

Facial tissues are the one piece of trash I see on the trail the most (by far), but I also see an occasional orange peel or apple core. I know where hikers who toss these aside are coming from — since they are food items, the idea is that either an animal will get it, or mother nature will.

The problem is that often neither of those are true. If an animal does not eat your leftovers (which is much less likely than you think), then it is going to be there for quite a while. But don’t just take my word for it.

In an article published in Popular Science, Alisha McDarris writes that “…food scraps like orange and banana peels can take up to two years [emphasis added] to break down in the wild, meaning they’re going to be sitting alongside the trail or in a ditch by the road for a lot longer than you might think.”

The essential problem is that the great outdoors is not like a compost pile. A compost pile is a situation that is supremely optimized to enhance the breakdown of organic matter. This is a very different environment, as it turns out, then simply beside a trail. “The conditions present in a compost pile or facility—like a microbe-rich environment, heat, and the frequent turning of materials,” writes McDarris, “are required to break down food waste so quickly. Those conditions don’t exist in nature.”

And it gets worse, as McDarris lays out:

The food itself can also make animals sick and even kill them. Most of what people leave outdoors—peels, cores, and trail mix, to name a few—is almost never food that’s part of animals’ normal diet. Often, they can’t decipher the difference between actual food and scented items like chapstick, potato chip bags, and snack bar wrappers, which can be fatal.

https://www.popsci.com/story/diy/what-happens-food-trash-outdoors/

So yeah, the cardinal rule of trails remains: If you pack it in, pack it out. Thank you very much, from the person who has to pick up the shit you leave behind.

Slight Loosening of Park Restrictions

The Sonoma County Health Officer is loosening park restrictions as of Wednesday, May 13, according to this new order. The key takeaway is that you can now drive to local parks, bathrooms may once again be open if the park you are visiting has such. You must continue the practices of social distancing and facial coverings when they are appropriate (for example, when coming close to others such as in parking areas or passing on the trails). Of course, if you have any symptoms of CoViD-19 you should stay home (these are listed in the order, see the link above).

Also, “If the potential Park visitor has had direct contact with a COVID-19 positive individual(s) in the past 14 days that person shall not enter a Park, and should contact their primary health care physician for further instructions.”

Please be smart out there, or else:

“In the event of crowding, widespread non-compliance with the limitations of this Order, or other evidence of activities presenting an unacceptable risk of spread of COVID-19 through Park use, any or all Parks may be closed again in their entirety or on a case-by-case-basis by the Health Officer, or by the individual Park owner, including but not limited to County Parks as determined by the Director of Regional Parks, as needed.”

Many of us deeply value our access to open areas. We’re trusting each other to do the right things.

LIMITED Opening of the Overlook and Montini Properties: PLEASE READ

According to an order by the County Health Officer, many (not all) parks in Sonoma County, including the Sonoma Overlook Trail and the Montini Preserve are open for hiking as of Wednesday, April 29th, under the following conditions: 

  • You must have NO CoViD-19 symptoms.
  • You must be able to get there by walking or biking (no driving and parking).
  • You must practice social distancing when within 6 feet of others (such as when passing on a trail).
  • You must wear a facial covering.

Please be aware that if you don’t comply, the parks could be closed again.

From my experience, people have not gone off the trail in the past to provide social distance. So please do this. It is necessary.