Birding at Lake Hemet

We have one more scheduled bird walk at Lake Hemet this year on Wed, October 31st. Birding at the lake is different throughout the year. Full-time resident birds make space for the migrants and the winter residents.

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There are a few birds that I can guarantee that we will see like this California Scrub Jay. It’s reassuring seeing all the jays busy replanting our forests. Although they have fantastic memories for where they cache their nuts, some of them get overlooked and have a chance to become a sapling.

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We should also see one of the resident Bald Eagles. If we are lucky, we will see one in flight. Last week on our bird walk, we saw a huge number of raptors - Bald Eagle, Northern Harrier, American Kestrel, White-tailed Kite, Red-shouldered Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk and a Merlin!

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Another great find last week was three Black-crowned night herons. It was the first recorded sighting in 10 years and our first so that was a fun moment!

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This beautiful Red-breasted Sapsucker lives down at Lake Hemet. We don’t always see them but when we do, it is unforgettable!


Finally, although it is called a bird walk, we stop and enjoy other beautiful and not so beautiful “critters” that we encounter whether they are crawling, slithering or perched. It’s all about getting out and enjoying this special place!

Kickin' Off Summer Sales!

Summer is officially here, but our sales in the bookstore have been soaring all year!  We are selling a record number of Adventure Passes this year, a reflection of the increased usage of our forest.  I have added some new book titles to the inventory, check out "Wilderness Navigation" and the really handy, backpack size "Wildflower" Guide!  Also a few new children's books including "Do Princesses Wear Hiking Boots?" and the very popular Dr. Seuss books with the Cat In The Hat - "Why Oh Why Are The Deserts So Dry?" and "Miles and Miles of Reptiles".  We have a great selection of children's books that really encourage kids to enjoy their time outdoors! 

As always, patches and pins are best-selling items!  Many people collect them and we have every Smokey patch and lapel pin that is available.  If we don't have it, I'll get it!  

Of course, maps and books are the back-bone of our store, but having a large selection of educational, fun and practical merchandise shows the public that visits the Ranger Station they can find just about anything they need for a day hike, gift or a memorable Smokey Bear souvenir!

I am always so appreciative for Laura Verdugo and her staff at the front desk. They handle all of our sales for us, without them, we would need volunteers there all the time.  Next time you're in the Ranger Station, say "thanks" to Laura!   

If you ever need something we don't have, just let me know and I will get it for you, and don't forget - volunteers receive 15% off everything in our bookstore!

Have a great summer!









Discovering Mountain Yellow-legged Frogs in Dark Canyon

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On Saturday, June 2nd, Ann Bowers, District Wildlife Biologist and Lareina VanSant, Biologist Technician led a group of us into a protected, off limits area of Dark Canyon to see the endangered Mountain Yellow-legged Frog, Rana Mucosa.  This unique experience gave us a chance to see frogs that once were abundant by the thousands in our mountain pools and creeks.



When we first arrived at the pools, it was difficult to find any of these cute little frogs. In 2002, these frogs were placed on the Endangered Species list. At this time, less than 200 of these frogs were reported in the San Gabriel, San Bernardino and San Jacinto mountain streams. The last 10 years have been filled with extreme challenges in the recovery efforts to prevent the extirpation of the frogs from the San Jacinto mountains.

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With the assistance of Lareina's sharp eyes, we found 2 adult frogs basking in the sun on an open boulder in the water. Decline of the frogs over the years has been attributed to many factors including drought, nonnative predators (bullfrogs, trout) and a fungal disease, called chytridriomycosis. The Mountain Fire of 2013 burned a portion of their habitat in the wilderness. This was followed by a torrential rainfall that caused ash and sediment to fill in some crucial creeks.

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Since 2007, scientists at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research have been involved in a captive breeding program. Releases of tadpoles, juveniles or adults into our wilderness has been an ongoing project since 2011.  There is discussion of a release of frogs in the high country this summer.



When we speak of the "authority of the resource", we are talking about life that inhabits our wilderness. We are the "voice" for the quiet inhabitants whether they are the beautiful Lemon Lilies, Red-breasted Sapsuckers, Mountain Lions or Mountain Yellow-legged Frogs.


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In order to protect the frogs and other wildlife, we need to educate hikers about keeping our few creeks pristine. This includes avoiding trampling vegetation along the water's edge and refraining from adding pollutants including dish soap into the creeks.

When we offer this special opportunity again, I hope you will join us to see the special Mountain Yellow-legged Frogs for yourself. Research is ongoing. The fight to save them from extirpation continues!!!

BTW, if you hear a frog croaking, could it be a MYLF???? No, you are probably hearing one of the tree frogs in our area. The endangered frogs vocalize underwater so it is inaudible to us.

Hope to see you on our upcoming botany walks!

Robin Roberts, Interpretive Coordinator


The busy Summer season has started!

Hi Everyone,

Even through Summer is just under 4 weeks away Idyllwild and the surrounding forest areas are very busy with tourist, hikers and backpackers.  PCT hikers are still in town although not in the numbers of a month and 1/2 ago.

The FSVA/FS refresher training was the best one in years.  Chip and Vicki Hurn opened up their property in Garner Valley for 3 days to host the event.  The training was excellent and the interpretative was engaging.  A round of applause for Rick (Wilderness) Wilkerson, Patti Hudson, Jana Desrocher, Ron Krull, Joe Bressi, and Chip along with all the other trainers for a great weekend. Patty Andersen, we missed you but congrats on the new house.

I would like to welcome all the new volunteers in training (at last count I think 8 people)  We now have a wait-list  of people wanting to start training (not a bad position to be in).  I want to think all the patrol trainers, who without them, our new volunteers could not be trained.

The Willow Creek Trail is now open from Skunk Cabbage Jct to the State Park.  Without the help of the FSVA crews working under Steve Schwitters (crosscut saw coordinator) and Andy Smith including volunteer Adam Roberts the opening may have been delayed another year.

Just a reminder, the FSVA board meetings, held at the Idyllwild Ranger Station at 630 pm about six times a year, are open to active volunteers.  This is a great opportunity to hear from Andy Smith and other staff members on what is going on around the forest.  It will also give you an inside look into the management and activities of the FSVA behind the scenes.  Think of it as a back stage pass!  Just ask any board member or coordinator when the meeting will be held. Visitors will be given an opportunity to ask questions during the comment period at the end of the meeting.

Patti Hudson and Robin Roberts are now in full swing with the interpretative programs.  Check out the volunteer calendar for a list of events.  Take a look at the FSVA bookstore and gift shop pages on Facebook for updates on the bookstore and Smokey Bear.  Jana Desrocher runs the bookstore and gift shop at the ranger station in additional to being secretary of the Board.

Vice Pres and Parade Coordinator,  Karleen Esparza,  is still looking for Parade volunteers if you know anyone interested.

Social night at Idyllwild Brew Pub has started again and  the next one is June 09, 2018 from 600 pm to 800 pm.  They are the 2nd Saturday of the month.  This is just a relaxing time of get together with other volunteers, talk about whatever and have some great beverages and food. The best time to arrive is between 600 pm and 630 pm if you don't want to miss anyone.

In closing I just want to say again, without all of you the FSVA would not exist and the San Jacinto Wilderness would be a sadder place.  Thank you for what you do.

I hope to get an opportunity to see all of you this summer, hopefully out  on the trail!  Have a great summer and stay safe!

Bob Romano, President FSVA,




Happy Holiday best wishes

Hello fellow volunteers,

As I write this note I am very thankful for all the great volunteers I am honored to know in our group.  As mentioned at the volunteer appreciation party (sorry if you could not attend) we have a great group.  John Ladley mentioned that the FSVA is the only volunteer group on the forest that does not need to obtain funds from the Forest Service to accomplish its mission.  I am very proud of that.  It is because of the Board of Directors and the great volunteers that this is possible.  Jana does a great job supplying the bookstore with  lots of things the public wants to purchase.  Chip is there to keep the funds in order.

Our group has been very understanding adapting to the new change in wilderness rules about the day use permit.  For the last almost 20 years I have been telling visitors they need a permit and I know it is hard to make the change but hopefully by the next quota period this coming summer the rules will be amended.

As we enter the winter season I hope we get snow and lots of it.  It is possible we will not but we still need to remember to stay safe out there and tell the visitors to do the same.  One slip on a tiny piece of ice can make for a very bad day.  I have slipped on my share of ice but can say I was always able to walk out to my car.  Even in my driveway I made it back to the house!  Our coordinators Rick and Chip will advise you of conditions during the winter.

Norma and I wish you all a safe and happy holiday season and look forward to seeing you all soon-Refresher training in April if not before.  Thank you for your support and friendship!

Bob Romano President FSVA







Mid summer news

We have reached the middle of the busy summer vacation season here in the San Jacinto Ranger District.  The last few months have been very busy for the FSVA.  On the administrative side we have purchased a new point of sale system for the book store at the Ranger Station.  We can now accept all major credit cards using the Square system. This has increased our sales dramatically but this has presented some challenges for our Treasurer, Chip Hurn, which he is handling.   Jana (also board secretary) is doing great running the bookstore and getting new products to sell......

Searching for Summer Wildflowers

Searching for Summer Wildflowers

It's always fun to search for wildlife and native plants while hiking in the High Country. This entry is about some of the current wildflowers you can try to find when you are on a hike up to Tahquitz Meadow. Flowers are always changing so what is there now will probably be gone in a month or so. Good luck with your search! .....