Bald Eagle Dream of feeding on fish at a perch on a grassy cliff in the Boney Mountain Wilderness about 50 years ago.
Robert 'Roy' J. van de Hoek discovers the Beauty of Boney Mountain Wilderness and then compiles a web page about the Boney Mountain Wilderness. First published in 2000, revised in July 2001.
"The Boney Mountain Wilderness Area occupies the eastern half of Point Mugu State Park and can be reached from this location via the Backbone Tract."
"The Boney Mountain Wilderness Area, in contrasat to those areas where people and their works dominate the landscape, is an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by human beings, where people themselves are visitors and do not remain. Anyone wishing to explore the wilderness area must enter only by foot or horseback."
The quote listed above is a complete transcription on the interpretive exhibit at Point Mugu State Park. On the revised Point Mugu State Park Guide & Map, revised on January 1, 1991, there is a beautiful "sidebar" of a Aldo Leopold quote from Sand County Almanac with an excellent overview of the features of Bone Mountain Wilderness. It is printed here as follows:
DEFENDERS OF WILDERNESS
"Wilderness is a resource which can shrink but not grow. Invasions can be arrested or modified in a manner to keep an area usable for recreation, or for science, or for wildlife, but the creation of new wilderness in the full sense of the word is impossible." Aldo Leopold , Sand County Almanac
"In 1981 a wilderness area was estabished within Point Mugu State Park. Over 6,000 acres of parkland, including the rugged Boney Mountain, have been set aside to preserve the natural features of this area."
"The Boney Mountain Wilderness Area, in contrast to those areas where people and their works dominate the landscape, is an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by human beings, where people themselves are visitors and do not remain. Anyone wishing to explore the wilderness area must first leave motor vehicles behind and enter only by foot or horseback. Mountain bikes and any other mechanical devices are not permitted."
More of the public statement by California State Parks to come later.
Closing Thoughts by Naturalist
Robert Roy van de Hoek
There is a need to have a WATCHABLE WILDLIFE sign with the binocular symbology on Pacific Coast Highway to indicate the location of the Boney Mountain Wilderness. Perhaps an interpretive exhibit and turnout for cars is needed along the highway. Perhaps this is all that is needed for the public? Would a visitor center impact the wildlife at the Wilderness Area? When do people, tourists, our pets, horses, non-native species, and trash become a problem for a wild area such as Mugu's Wilderness. Thoughts to consider before plunging forward to construct a visitor center and allow horses and dogs in the Wilderness. Perhaps we should seek guidance from field biologists and naturalists in their writings and from other scientists. Of all the public agencies and private organizations stewarding, managing or administering land in the Santa Monica Mountains, only Californa State Parks has been bold enough and courageous as to declare part of a park as Wilderness. Applause and recognition is due the State Parks. Let us hope that the National Park Service and Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy will follow suit and declare some of its lands as Wilderness.
Designating an area as Wilderness is not an indication necessarily that wildness is found there. For example, if an animal, once found historically in a Wilderness is removed by humans at some time in the past, is the Wilderness truely wild. My answer is a qualified no, but changes to a yes, if a vision and goal at restoration of the missing wildlife exists.
Every Wilderness Area should also be striving toward the elimination of non-native species of animals and plants. Non-native alien species are direct threat to California's wild nature at Mugu, particularly in Wilderness Areas.
I am partial to having "wildness" experiences as Henry David Thoreau writes, IN WILDNESS IS THE PRESERVATION OF THE WORLD." I don't think that I can survive in LA nor most of us, unless we preserve wildness in LA, such as the wild nature of Mugu Lagoon Estuary. My spirit and well-being depends also on wild nature in urban parts of California. I also find that I need to spend at least 4 hours a day in the wild, if not longer to be happy not unlike Thoreau and Muir to spend great amounts of time outdoors in the wild and wildness. Thus, I saunter often in Boney Mountain Wilderness Area.
Here is a final note of natural history writing from a naturalist (Robert Roy van de Hoek) in Los Angeles County as follows: The scientific name for the Bald Eagle is quite interesting in that it translates from LATIN as meaning white-headed: Haleaeetus leucocephalus. Note that Henry David Thoreau referred to the Bald Eagle as the White-headed Eagle. Was he more correct than us in calling it by that name? Read on for the explanation. I should add that in the years of the Revolution (1770's) through the Civil War of the 1860's the word "BALD" meant that you were white-haired on your head not that you had no hair on your head. Thus, the name of Bald Eagle that we use today is a reference to our Eagle being white-feathered on it head. If it had no feathers, it would be a Condor or a Vulture, right?. Since the Bald Eagle eats so much dead meat as in being a scavenger, it might be better called a Vulture, right? Perhaps not however, since the Eagle does catch quite a bit of it own food on the wing. I can attest to this since I made observations into the Eagles of Catalina Island from 1996 -1998 while employed there by the County of Los Angeles as the director and supervising naturalist of the Catalina Island Interpretive Nature Center. On Catalina, I saw while kayaking, a Bald Eagle swoop down to attack and capture a Western Grebe and another Eagle attack a Ruddy Duck on the ocean water. On other occasions, I saw a Bald Eagle on Catalina catch fish as small as Topsmelt to as large as a Bass. All from a kayak while paddling along the north side of Catalina Island, primarily near Long Point. From the Landcruiser vehicle, on Catalina Island (known to the Native American Indian as PIMU), I have seen the Bald Eagle dive into a flock of Western Gulls to cause quite a thunderous sound from a flock of 100+ gulls all crying out simultaneously. In my readings of the research by the Institute for Wildlife Studies, led by David Garcelon, who has been working for 20 years to bring Eagles back to Catalina Island, I learned that Cormorants and Gulls are sought by Eagles as prey. It is from the Gulls and Cormorants that the Eagles are picking up the magnified amounts of pollution called DDE which is linked to DDT. If we return Eagles to Mugu, Malibu, and Ballona, we will be able to see Eagles capturing Gulls and Cormorants as both of these birds are common at Ballona and Malibu. What a sight that will be! In addition, the return of Salmon (i.e. Steelhead Trout) to Malibu and Ballona will be another sight to see, when the fish are jumping in Ballona Creek by a Culver Moon. The Eagles will be diving toward the water for that Salmon-fish by the light of the Culver Moon. At that time, we won't have to kiss it goodbye, Paradise, that is, in LA, a truely wild natural open space area in Los Angeles County of southern California. Many of you know what I mean, but some will never get it! When can the Eagles fly between our southern California wetlands again. I want to see an Eagle on Monday at Mugu, that then flies to Malibu on Tuesday, and on to Ballona on Wednesday. On Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday it might be found at points between Mugu and Ballona such as off the Santa Monica Pier, Point Dume, Topanga, Zuma, Leo Carrillo and other beach areas of our Santa Monica Mountains coastline.
Not to neglect the Golden Eagle, it too needs to feed in the prairies
of southern California for rabbits and California "Prairie Dogs," called
locally here as Ground Squirrels. From Point Mugu to Leo Carrillo to Malibu
Creek to Topanga to Baldwin Hills to L.A. River and to the Ballona Wetlands,
we need Golden Eagles and Bald Eagles, and their prey of rabbits, squirrels,
fish, seal carcasses and whale carcasses on the beaches, and an occasional
seabird such as gulls and cormorants for prey. In conclusion, the 5 Black
& White photographs that make up the exhibt at Point Mugu State Park
that promotoe Boney Mountain Wilderness Area should be supplemented. The
photos as they currently exist are:
(1) Serrano Valley
(2) Boney Mountain vista
(3) Rock outcrop as teetering rock
(4) Close-up of second photograph listed above
(5) Close-up of weathered cliff with holes for Eagle nests, perhaps even California Condor again sometime in the future. Now, "there" is a vision for this Wilderness Area! Thus, I would supplement some new photographs of both kinds of Eagles and of the California Condor. The current exhibit for the Boney Mountain Wilderness Area is not at the trailhead for the Wildernness but is rather at the day use parking area for La Jolla Valley trail on Pacific Coast Highway. The location could be moved to Sycamore Canyon, perhaps in the campground somewhere. The exhibit could mention also that the Bald Eagle used to nest in the Sycamores in the campground area but no longer do so due to DDT poisoning and shooting of Eagles. The exhibit might mention that the Bald Eagle is precluded now from nesting due to all the campers amongst the Sycamore trees. And now that Eagles are making a comeback, they cannot choose to nest again in the Sycamores at the campground because of the supposed incompatibility of campers and Eagles. Should we sacrifice a use of part of the campground for Eagles and lessen the footprint of humans at Sycamore Campground? There is also evidence that Great Blue Heron and American Osprey nested in the Sycamore of Point Mugu Campground. It would have been a short flight for the Heron, Osprey, and Eagle to the nearby Mugu Lagoon Estuarine Wetlands and offshore kelp beds where fish are abundant.