Dictionary Hill w/ Jim Merzbacher

This is a past event

24 people went

9500 Eucalyptus St

9500 Eucalyptus St · Spring Valley, CA

How to find us

From the 125 in Spring Valley, exit Jamacha Rd, heading east. Stay on same road as it becomes Apple St. Turn left (North) onto Ramona Ave and keep on around the turn. Look for Buena Vista and turn North. Park at end of street near Eucalyptus St.

Location image of event venue


PLANT KNOWLEDGE: Novice +, Professionals always welcome!
ACCESS: Open to all, no charge

This is expected to be a short morning trip with early afternoon options afterwards. We'll be meeting at the surprisingly diverse Dictionary Hill where an uplift of meta volcanics in the area have created a spot where rare plant and animal species hold on while being surrounded by development. Dictionary Hill is a location where the endangered Quino Checkerspot butterfly has been known to fly. We'll follow the lead of the primary docent, Jim Merzbacher and (hopefully) County Parks Ranger Craig Newson. Jim is a co-founder of Dictionary Hills Open Space Advocates (DHOSA) [dictionaryhill.info/index.html] an excellent non-profit focusing on this local treasure. Check out their website for more info about their work and the land they act to protect.

Dictionary Hill is an interesting place with a Salvia munzii dominant coastal sage scrub community and open areas with cryptogrammic crusts. This type of community intergrades with riparian areas and southern inland chaparral more prominent to the east on San Miguel Mtn.

Afterwards, there are a few options if you're looking for nearby events.

Check out the Annual Jamul Indian Village Earth Day event at
14191 Highway 94 Jamul, CA 91935. Support the culture and history of the land and a part of the indigenous Kumeyaay Nation. The Kumeyaay have made San DIego and Baja their home for tens of thousands of years. Share food, games, singers, and our love of the land.

Proctor Valley is an interesting valley set between San Miguel Mtn and the Jamul Mtns where many rare species and habitats thrive in the boundaries of the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge. The Valley connects the Refuge with the Otay Mtn Wilderness and the Otay Lakes to the South. The habitat supports Golden Eagle, bobcat, mountain lion, mule deer, and coastal cactus wren. All of which can only survive if the food web below them is solid and their habitat niches undisturbed.

Rare habitats and species we might find along here are restored and natural vernal pools, San Diego goldenstar (Bloomeria clevelandii), Dunn's mariposa lily (Calochortus dunnii), Orcutt's brodiaea (Brodiaea orcuttii), Delicate clarkia (Clarkia delicata), and Palmer's grapplinghook (Harpongonella palmeri), among many others.

I hope to get Jill Terp, Reserve Manager, or John Martin, Federal Biologist, to help lead a short hike and point out some of the extraordinary natural resources along the way. If they can't commit, there are a number of pull out areas we can check out on the roadside.

Much of the eastern edge Open Space is imperiled by the potential development Otay Ranch Village 14, which seeks to place high dollar housing within the fire prone hills atop many rare biological resources. If interested, check out the plan at [sandiegocounty.gov/pds/ceqa/OtayRanchVillage14.html]. The responses really help to navigate the issues already analyzed by concerned agencies and organizations.

Bring any gear, lunch, snacks, and water suited to your plans for the day. iNaturalist app is highly recommended as are any guides, lenses, and cameras. The day may be hot, so prepare for the weather.

CARPOOL: Carpool will be available for anyone who might find it convenient, especially anyone using public transit. Arrive between 7:20 and 7:30AM at the Fashion Valley Transit Center Parking Lot (West side parking area of the Fashion Valley Mall near Fashion Valley Rd). Look for a black Toyota Tundra. Spaces may fill up, so please be prepared to drive. Carpool participants will be part of both trips and may not return until 2 PM. Parking is free for 24 hrs and has roving security at Fashion Valley Transit Center, however risks are the same as parking anywhere on the street. Message the group for alternatives.