By Phyllis Belcher
contributing writer 

Democrats learn about nature conservancy


April 13, 2024


Zachary Principe describes the importance of the Randall Nature Preserve.

The Frank and Joan Randall Preserve was the topic presented by Zachary Principe when he spoke to Tehachapi Mountain Democratic Club. He has been an ecologist for 26 years and is project manager for the Preserve, which will enable greater movement and habitat connectivity for animals and plants. Democrats chose this topic for the April meeting in recognition of Earth Month.

The Tehachapi foothills have been a lifeline for nature and people for hundreds of years, but land development and highway construction has limited the access to vital ecological regions. In 2005, The Nature Conservancy controlled 33,000 acres, but a gift from the Randall family in 2015 enabled additional acreage to be purchased, and today there are 82,000 acres within their jurisdiction. There are some cattle ranches within the preserve, but Principe pointed out this is actually a benefit. The cattle, through grazing, help to control invasive grasses. This reduces the chances of devastating fires.

Principe was enthusiastic about the potential that endangered animals and plants can prosper. He showed slides of California condors, black bears, salamanders and other animals that need to move from one ecosystem to another. The Preserve connects four such regions: Sierra Nevada, San Joaquin Valley, Mojave Desert and South Coast.

Plants are also an important part of the Preserve, and several rare species grow there. Principe is studying rare cacti and learning to propagate them. He is discovering they may be able to be grown from seeds. He enjoys the many blue oak trees and has discovered one that is 570 years old.

Democrats will recognize Earth Day on April 19 by picking up trash on Tucker Rd. and Valley Blvd. For details see TMDC meets the first Thursday of each month at Kelcy's Café at 5 p.m. for dinner, with the meeting beginning at 6 p.m.


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