A large downed tree at the HQs provided an opportunity for a habitat project. Some of the logs and brush were cut and used at several troughs on the property. These old cattle troughs are too tall for wildlife to access. Logs piled up next to the trough create “stairs” for animals to climb to get to the water. In addition, tree limbs were used to create a brushpile near the trough so birds and smaller animals have a place to get shade from the heat and escape predators when they come to quench their thirst.
The volunteers and Director Terry were back out in May to remove the wire from the north side of the property. In total, they took down and rolled up 8 miles of barbed wire! Now the elk (pictured) and other wildlife can run freely without having to jump over or get caught up in the fencing. Still to come - removing the fence posts.
The 2023 record storms downed trees, washed out roads, and caused landslides, blocking access to much of the Chimineas Ranch. Work shifted to the American Ranch Unit for the first habitat improvement project of the year. Members of CDFW's Natural Resource Volunteer Program, led by CRF Director Terry started removing barbed wire from a newly acquired 640-acre property. The removal of wire from the one mile east boundary gives wildlife and public land hunters free access across the new property.
The final project of the year was the replacement of another trough, this time on the American Ranch Unit. This area is heavily used by elk and pigs and the old trough was unserviceable. CRF purchased a large trough to meet the water needs of the many large thirsty animals. Delivery was made with the help of CRF’s heavy duty trailer acquired several years ago. CRF Director Don and CDFW Habitat Assistant Sean worked together to grade the site and install the trough.
Six young women with Troop 1602 Scouts BSA out of Paso Robles showed their girl power by completing a conservation service project on the Chimineas Ranch. Together they replaced an old, galvanized cattle trough riddled with holes with a trough wildlife can easily access. They removed the old trough, dug a trench, set the 2,000 pound concrete trough in the ground, and connected the plumbing.
The scouts worked hard, learned new skills, and did a great job! Retired CDFW Habitat Assistant Joe Lambirth and the Scoutmasters provided the training. CRF Director Terry Palmisano was on hand to support the project.
Unnecessary fencing can be a hazard for wildlife when they get tangled in it. CRF coordinated a volunteer day with CDFW's Natural Resource Volunteer Program to start removing the wire from a 4-strand barbed wire fence on the North Chimineas Unit. Wildlife are heavily using the area as evidenced by the well-worn trails going across the fence. Now the elk, pigs, and antelope will have clear access. Work will continue as there are miles more fence to remove.
Another fantastic weekend for a junior hunter! Cole, age 13, had never hunted big game before but calmly filled his cow elk tag in the first hour Saturday morning on the Chimineas Ranch. Looking on proudly are his father (in the black vest), and two uncles who got him interested in hunting. The hunt was sponsored by the San Fernando Valley Chapter of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation which provided meals, guides, and help cleaning the animal. CRF hosted the group at the ranch headquarters.
Three SoCal junior hunters scored big in September at CDFW’s apprentice deer hunt on the Chimineas! The hunt was sponsored by the A-Z Foundation and hosted by CRF. Grace, Jonathon, and Victoria each took their first ever deer, and they were beauties! Victoria also took a huge hog and celebrated her 13th birthday while she was there. The hunters and their families stayed at the ranch HQs and everyone had a great time. Butcher Shop Taxidermy will mount the 3 bucks for the young hunters. Meals and guide service were provided by A-Z, who also presented camo backpacks with knives and Vortex binoculars to each hunter.
Water had to be turned off to one of the troughs in September when it was discovered a pipe between the tank and the trough was broken. CRF Directors Don and Terry repaired the pipe and got water flowing back into the trough. With the temperature hovering around 105 degrees that day, if the trough had been a little bigger the wildlife might have come for a drink and found both directors cooling their heels in the water!
The Chimineas Ranch Foundation got a great deal on a much needed John Deere Gator utility vehicle from Cal Coast Machinery in Santa Maria. In just the first few weeks it was put to good use for checking water troughs, doing pipeline repairs, removing fences, and taking junior hunters out on their hunts.
YOUR FUNDRAISING DOLLARS HELPING WILDLIFE! Funds raised from the Foundation’s February banquet have already proven to be a huge benefit to the wildlife on the Chimineas Ranch. The well pump for one of the troughs on the south end of the property froze up and needed to be replaced. This was especially critical as the south end of the ranch is much drier than the north side, and this trough has been heavily used for years by a wide variety of animals.
Leaving it dry in the middle of the drought would have been a disaster for the wildlife that have come to depend on that water. Your donations and auction bids allowed CRF to purchase a new pump. Directors Don Copeland and John McGray, with CDFW Habitat Assistant Joe Lambirth, installed the pump, filled the tank, and got water flowing into the trough again.
Sam Schley, with Santa Barbara Boy Scout Troop 26, completed his Eagle Scout project by designing, constructing, and fund raising for a wildlife guzzler on the Chimineas Ranch. A guzzler is a water catchment system that collects rainfall, directs it into a storage tank, and then meters the water out into a trough so water is available to wildlife throughout the year. He requested and received funding from the Chimineas Ranch Foundation, Santa Barbara County Fish and Wildlife Committee, and San Luis Obispo County Fish and Game Fines Committee. CDFW provided the tank and trough.
Sam let a group of Boy Scouts and family members in the construction work. CDFW staff Joe Lambirth and Warden Kevin Hare provided expertise and encouragement. After working onsite two weekends in January the project is complete, the wildlife have another source of water on the ranch, and Sam completed the fieldwork required to become an Eagle Scout. Congratulations Sam!
The Hwy 166 entrance to the Chimineas Ranch got a new kiosk in September to welcome visitors and provide information about the property. Two boxes attached to the kiosk hold the access permits visitors need to fill out before they enter the property. There is also a new picnic table so there is a place to sit to fill out those access forms.
This project was completed through a public-private partnership between the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Chimineas Ranch Foundation and was funded by a grant from the San Fernando Valley Chapter of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation with additional funding from Mike and Kathleen Post. Thanks to everyone who helped to make this great addition for public access possible!
It takes a variety of skills to maintain a large working ranch and March has been busy! Here CRF Director Don Copeland welds a gate to repair it. The locked gate off Hwy 166 provides security for the property.
Johnson Flat Phase 1: The Foundation worked with Potter Enterprises in March to grade the road from the corrals to Johnson Flat on the South Chimineas Unit. The reopened road will provide better access to this popular hunting area during drive-on hunts. It also will allow for Phase 2 of the project to upgrade the tanks and put a timer on the well to ensure wildlife have a stable water supply.
The Apprentice Tule Elk Hunt was a huge success! Apprentice hunter Wyatt got a nice cow elk after an early stalk on Saturday and followed up with a bonus monster hog on Sunday! The Chimineas Ranch Foundation and members of the San Fernando Valley Chapter of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation sponsored this hunt. Wyatt is shown with his proud father and grandfather.
Director Mike Post with the new Foundation dump trailer purchased in August. The 7' x 15' trailer is perfect for hauling the CRF tractor and materials such as tanks, troughs, and fencing to project sites. The hydraulic system will lift the bed to dump gravel right where it is needed. Funding was provided by CRF (50%), the SLO County Fines Committee (45%), and a donation from the Posts (5%).