The Mariposa is the newsletter of San Luis Obispo County
Parks offering information on park developments, special events
and recreational opportunities.
12, No. 2 / Fall/Winter Edition 2002
||CAMPSITE & DAY
USE RESERVATIONS NOW ON-LINE AT WWW.SLOCOUNTYPARKS.COM
For the last two years, County parks has been working
diligently to improve our customer service. A focus
has been placed on the Lopez Lake Recreation Area due
to the intense use and the need to serve the 385,000
Those of you who have visited Lopez Lake in the last
year have probably noticed the improvements made to
the office building and entry station. what you have
not seen inside are the new computer terminals, network
server, printers and other technological improvements
that have made it easier for us to serve the needs of
our visitors. Last winter County parks completed the
renovation of the office facilities and added a new
phone system that allows callers to receive a message
and then go into queuing to wait for the next available
agent. This was done to facilitate making campsite reservations.
No more calling and hoping you get through. We are now
better able to serve our customer needs, truly on a
first-come, first-served basis.
The next step in this evolutionary process was to efficiently
speed up the process. So we added a T-1 line to speed
communications. The T-1 line was installed in preparation
of County Parks developing the capability for on-line
reservation requests. However, in order to assist customers
and potential park visitors, we wanted to better answer
any questions they may have before requesting a reservation.
We needed to improve our Website! In june of
2002, County Parks newly renovated website went on-line.
Our domain name remains the same (www.slocountyparks.com).
Since launching our improved site, we have received
thousands of hits and our website is gaining in popularity.
With the addition of on-line reservations for overnight
camping, business has been brisk. The success of our
pilot program has encouraged County Parks to expand
the reservation on-line requests to include Day Use
reservations. So now, to make it easier for the public
to reserve group picnic areas, County parks has included
individual and Group Day Use reservations to its on-line
In both cases, web surfers can expect a detailed response
to their reservation requests within 24 hours.
The site is hosted by New Image Technologies, Inc. of
San Luis Obispo and managed by Operations Coordinator
Mike Baker. the site is being visited an average of
900 times per day. As we thought, the web has become
a powerful tool for showcasing who we are and what we
do. Now that we are building expanded web services for
visitors who want to camp or hold special events, we
expect the number of reservations we process on-line
to increase significantly.
||MASSIVE LOPEZ LAKE BLUEGILL A STATE RECORD?
Big fish tilts scales at 3.79 pounds!
Lopez Lake - Nobody saw this one coming.
At 10:00 a.m. on a quiet mid-September day, local fisherman
Thomas Ditzel of Santa Maria, hooked into an unsuspecting
denizen of Lopez Lake. The fine fat fellow bit hard
on a rooster tail and fought heartily until Mr. Ditzel
pulled it from the waters of Marina Cove.
The gigantic pan fish (see photo below) is receiving
medial attention because no one can remember a bluegill
bigger than that caught at Lopez. After a certified
weigh-in, Supervising Ranger Ken Klis has researched
the matter so see if the Lopez fish sets a statewide
size record for a California Bluegill. The result: our
catch missed the state record weight by only one-hundredth
of a pound! Somewhere else a 3.8 -pound fish was
hauled in. "I think it was a record fish"
said Klis. "It's just that the angler waited a
few hours before weighing it so it probably weighted
more initially." He then added optimistically,
"I'm sure a state record lurks out there somewhere."
Who knows, maybe an even bigger bluegill is still out
there. If a state record could still be hooked, it's
probably at Lopez Lake!
||DISC GOLF COURSE AT HEILMANN PARK A RUNAWAY
Locals frequenting Heilmann Park in Atascadero were
curious about the basket-like structures recently popping
up around the park. It didn't take long, however, for
them to figure out what they were. "Disc golf?"
replied a pair of elderly ladies walking their dogs
through the park. "What's disc golf?" Head
out to Heilmann Park on any afternoon and you will undoubtedly
find out. Dozens of disc golf fans throughout tht county
have been frequenting the course and have the park humming
with activity on a daily basis. Park Ranger Brian Wilder
is amazed at the boost in park attendance. "I never
thought it would catch on like this. At leas 20 people
a day play out there." Disc golf has been a popular
activity for many years across the United States. If
made its central coast debut locally at Waller Park
in Santa Maria.
Parks Superintendent Ernie Del Rio knows a few things
about that course: he designed it. H had hopes of designing
a similar course in San Luis Obispo County. Last year,
Boy Scout Eric Baranek, who wanted to put together a
course as part of his Eagle Scout project, approached
Del Rio. "The timing was perfect," said Del
Rio, "he needed a project and we wanted to get
the ball rolling." Baranek completed the course
just before summer and it has been a hit since the 18th
hole went in.
Disc golf is played much like regular golf, only you
throw a plastic disc, much like a Frisbee, into baskets
or "holes." The holes vary in distance and
the game can be quite challenging. "It's not as
easy as it looks," said first timer David Conner
from Paso Robles.
While it may take practice to make it to the competitive
level (yes, there is a Professional Disc Golf Association)
the novice can have a great time learning the game.
"I have seen kids in strollers out there as well,"
said Del Rio. "It's a great family sport."
It is hoped that interest in the course will sprout
a disc golf club and possibly tournament play. the course
will continue to develop and time will tell. Until then,
as the disc golfers say, "aim at the chain!"
||SLO COUNTY GOLF COURSES HAVE GONE TO
When it comes to solving chronic pest problems at Morro
Bay and Dairy Creek Golf Courses, the facilities have
quite simply gone to the birds! What golf course staff
and the Golf Course Resource Committee have discovered
is that Mother Nature may have the answers to some of
our best control problems. By installing bird boxes
at the two County operated golf courses, we have reduced
some nagging pest problems.
At Dairy Creek Golf Course, staff built and installed
eight large nesting boxes two years ago to provide shelter
for local barn owls. the objective was to enlarge the
barn owl population, which in turn would help reduce
the excessive rodent population found on this site.
Barn owls are nocturnal feeders with exceptional vision
and hearing. They forage open fields searching for mice,
ground squirrels, gophers and other small mammals. In
the spring, the females nest and rear their young. during
this period hunting activities are especially high since
the adults must gather enough food to feed the every-hungry
owlets. The captured prey is torn apart and swallowed-
bones, skull and all. the indigestible parts are formed
into pellets and disgorged at the roosting site or about
the nest. During annual nest box cleaning operations
at Dairy Creek, staff has noted that most boxes contained
up to 8 inches of pellet material, indicative of the
abundant harvest achieved by these beneficial birds.
These "cats with wings" are certainly earning
their keep in the maintenance of Dairy Creek Golf Course
and are a valuable component of the facility's pest
control program. Many new barn owls are now enjoying
their golf course-front homes and are actively patrolling
the property at dark. Whooo-Whooo!
Another success story involving pest control and our
feathered friends is happening at Morro Bay Golf Course.
Here the pest is one with a more annoying nature, at
least for summertime golfers and visitors to Morro Bay
State Park. during those long summer days, the annual
outbreak of salt marsh mosquitoes takes place and drives
most visitors straight for an insect repellent bath.
Over the years, staff has attempeted many different
options to combat this local problem with limited success.
the Golf Course Resource Committee then invited Dr.
Richard Davis, biologist with California State Health,
to address the group about this problem. Dr. Davis suggested
employing tree swallows as a potential solution to the
Tree swallows are a migratory species and appear on
the California Central Coast in spring in search of
nesting sites. In the fall and winter they form migratory
flocks and head to the southern coast of the United
States, Mexico and Central America. This migration pattern
matches perfectly the time when mosquitoes appear at
Morro Bay Golf Course (June - September). Equally important,
tree swallows capture insects during daylight hours,
whic is exactly when golfers are out to play. The swallows
forage over land and water feeding on other flying insects
such as beetles, midges, crane flies, horseflies, moths,
grasshoppers, dragonflies and mayflies. It appeared
that this species was going to be a good match for the
mosquito problems at Morro Bay. In the spring of 2002,
staff constructed and installed seventeen nest boxes
at Morro Bay Golf Course for tree swallows. by April,
swallows began appearing and by midsummer the birds
were abundant and could be seen swerving and dipping
ghrough the air gathering their daily diet of flying
insects. Consequently, the mosquito population of the
golf course during this past summer was very low and
quite tolerable. What ap leasant change from past years!
When golf course staff performed the annual fall cleaning
of the next boxes, they noted that about 80% of them
had been inhabited during the previous summer. After
only one year, the tree swallow program appeared to
be a great success.
The barn owl and tree swallow programs are examples
of integrated pest management programs used at your
county golf courses as part of the Audubon Cooperative
Sancturary Program of Golf Courses. this program is
designed to protect and enhance wildlife habitat and
natural resources on golf courses. Morro Bay Golf Course
is one of only ten golf courses in California to achieve
the coveted "Certified Sanctuary" rating in
the Audubon Cooperative Program. Dairy Creek Golf Course
is well underway to achieving the same "Sanctuary"
||LIVE-IN HOST SOUGHT FOR C.W. CLARKE PARK,
|| County Parks has a need to place a park
host at C.W. Clarke Park in Shandon, California. County
Park Hosts are provided with a full hook-up site for their
RV in exchange for 20 hourse of labor each week. For further
information, please contact parks superintendent Ernie
Del Rio at (805) 781-5200.