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  • April 11: Arena Plains Wildflower and Vernal Pool Tour

    Wildflower and Vernal Pool Tour at the Arena Plains Unit of the Merced National Wildlife Refuge (limited to 40 participants, registration required)

    April 11, 2015 at 9:00 a.m.

    Join in for a special tour of a unique and ecologically sensitive area that is typically closed to the public.  Vernal pools are special seasonally-flooded depressions with impermeable hardpan bottoms that hold rainwater until evaporation occurs.  The pools spring to life as they are filled by rain:  Fairy and Tadpole Shrimp emerge from cysts embedded in the soil during previous years and amphibians, such as endangered Tiger Salamanders, lay eggs from which tadpoles hatch.  As spring arrives and the water evaporates and recedes, wildflowers – such as Goldfields and Purple Owl’s Clover – grow in colorful halos around the pools.  This annual coloring led John Muir to describe the valley floor as the “floweriest part of the world” he had ever seen. This tour will focus on wildflower viewing and learning about vernal pool ecology -- the pools might be dry for the tour if warm weather persists, but there are still plenty of interesting things to observe and learn about on the area.

    The tour will begin at 9:00 a.m. on April 11th and last approximately 2-3 hours, consisting of caravanning in attendees’ personal vehicles (trucks and SUVs strongly recommended) into the interior of the Arena Plains Unit and walking on firm, but slightly uneven terrain.

    Due to limited parking and road infrastructure on the unit, this tour is limited to 40 participants on a first-come/first-served basis.  All attendees must phone the Refuge Complex office at 209/826-3508 to reserve a spot.  Due to the rustic nature of roads on the unit, only high clearance vehicles (trucks, SUVs) will be able to drive on the tour.  We will consolidate into as few vehicles as possible at the meeting site.     

    Driving Directions/Meeting Location:

    The Arena Plains Unit is normally closed to public access and does not have a street address.  Access is from a small sandy road off of Highway 140 with a sign marked “Snobird Lane.”  The meeting location will be on the south side of Highway 140 approximately 6.5 miles east of Highway 165 and 7 miles west of Applegate Road.  From Highway 99, take Highway 140 westbound.  After passing Applegate Road, continue 7 miles.  Turn south onto "Snobird Lane" and continue for one-half mile to the meeting place at the refuge gate.  Please note to be on the lookout for the Snobird Lane sign as it is a very small dirt/sand road and could be easily missed.  It is helpful to set your odometer and watch your mileage from either Hwy 165 (6.5 miles) or Applegate Road (7 miles).

    Call 209/826-3508 with any questions or to reserve a spot!

  • Photography Exhibit at the San Luis NWRC Visitor Center: Wildlife of the San Joaquin River NWR

    Photography Exhibit: Wildlife and Scenery from the San Joaquin River NWR by Rick Kimble on Display at the San Luis NWR Visitor Center

    7376 S. Wolfsen Road, Los Banos CA 93635  

    The San Luis NWR Complex is pleased to announce a special showing of wildlife photos by photographer Rick Kimble. Rick, an avid photographer and regular visitor to the Complex, is a Scientific Coordinator at the National Laboratory in Livermore. According to Rick, he “recharges his batteries by capturing images of nature.” This is the second photo display at the visitor center from Rick – this display features a variety of wildlife images and other scenes taken at the San Joaquin River NWR. 

  • Contact us

    Contact the Refuge Complex headquarters at 209/826-3508 with questions. The Visitor Center is open daily from 8am - 4:30pm.

Last Updated: Mar 23, 2015
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