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Enjoy the great outdoors with the American River Conservancy

The American River Conservancy has announced its spring excursions. Space is limited for many of the programs, so sign up as soon as possible. To register call the American River Nature Center at (530) 621-1224 or email Julie atjulie@arconservancy.org.

Mountain Bike Clinic & Ride
First Saturday of each month, March through May, 9 a.m. to noon (approximately)
These clinics are geared towards beginners, but all levels are welcome. The first part of the clinics (led by Tom Petersen, ARC supporter, trail author and bike enthusiast) will emphasize the “safety” aspect of checking our bikes before each ride — that’s mainly a quick brake inspection and wheel check to make sure the wheel is secure. From there Tom will address details like seat height, brake adjustment (which could lead to spoke work to straighten a wheel), overall bike fit, along with riders’ concerns and questions. The second part will be an actual bike ride of one to two hours. Ages 10 and older welcome. Call for meeting location (Pilot Hill area) and to sign up. Suggested donation: $5/members, $10/non-members.

KDD-Introduction to Outdoor Exploration
Saturdays, March 8 & 22, 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
John Muir once said, “Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike.” We invite you and your family to come and join ARC’s Education Team for an opportunity to embrace the roots of outdoor exploration. We’ll have a brief morning discussion about the essence of exploration and discovery in the outdoors, and then we’ll embark on a short nature walk through the Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park letting the experience of being outdoors guide us. We’ll discuss techniques and activities that encourage inquiry-based and experiential learning on a personal level or whether you’d enjoy sharing that with your children. We’ll bring some handy nature tools (e.g. critter collection boxes, magnifiers, nets, binoculars, field guides, etc.) to enrich our explorations. Whether you’re an avid outdoor adventurer yourself, or a budding outdoor enthusiast, this is sure to be a fun and inspiring avenue for us all to share the wonders of the outdoors with others. Call for meeting location (Coloma area) and to sign up. Ages 5 and older welcome with parents. Suggested donation: $5.

Wakamatsu Historical Tours
March 8 & 16, April 6 & 26, May 3 & 17, 10 a.m. to noon
Join ARC-trained docents for a historical tour of property recently acquired by ARC. This ranch is an interesting mosaic of springs, streams, wetlands, blue and live oak forest, sweeping vistas and prime agricultural soil. Ranch ponds and the small lake are a draw for wildlife, particularly migratory waterfowl, during the winter and early spring. Along with its beauty, learn about the rich history of the Wakamatsu Tea and Silk Farm, the first Japanese Colony site established in America in 1869. Mature children 12 and older welcome. Call for meeting location (Gold Hill area) and to sign up. Cost: $5/Children 12 to 18 years old, $10/adults. 

Olmstead Loop Trail Hike
Saturday, March 8, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Kay Osborn, Master Gardener and hiker, will lead you on this 8.5 mile hike through beautiful blue oak woodlands, wildflowers, vernal pools (if it rains). At about 3.5 miles the trail winds down through a pine forest to Knickerbocker Creek. After a short uphill, the trail levels out again with more views. Age 12 and older welcome. Rain cancels. Call for meeting location (Cool area) and to sign up. Suggested donation: $5/members, $10/non-members.

Cedar Park “Get Back in Shape for Hiking” Hike
Sunday, March 9, 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Donna Orth, ARC volunteer, will lead this easy, paved 1-mile loop through lovely woods. (Cedar Park was once a mining village.) We will go around loop three or four times with an optional hill climb. Also there is a dirt trail across the road we can hike along. There is a nice observation deck overlooking the Cosumnes to the south and if folks want there is “Soup Sunday” at Miraflores Winery following hike. You can get a bit of homemade soup, crusty bread and a glass of wine. Soup is free; bring money for wine. Call for meeting/carpool location (Pollock Pines area) and to sign up. Steady rain postpones. Ages 18 and older welcome. Suggested donation: $5/members, $10/non-members.

Salmon Falls Hike — Birds of the Foothills
Saturday, March 15, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Alissa Fogg from Point Blue Conservation Science will share her extensive knowledge of bird species and foothill habitat as she leads you through the rolling hills and oak woodland landscape of ARC’s Salmon Falls Ranch acquisition. This 757-acre property was acquired in 2012, and continues to operate as a working cattle ranch.  This hike is a bird-watching expedition, so be prepared to stop frequently.  Although Salmon Falls Ranch is not open to the public, ARC is currently fundraising and planning to incorporate public access while retaining the ability of the property to serve as rangeland for cattle. Ages 10 and older welcome. 4-miles with 300-foot elevation change. Steady rain cancels. Call for meeting location (El Dorado Hills area) and to sign up. Suggested donation: $10.

Hiking opportunities along the American River (North-South-middle forks)
Thursday, March 27, 6 to 7:30 p.m.
Take this armchair tour with Sheila Toner. She will show slides of some of the many trails available for hikers, bikers and equestrians along the American River. Feel free to ask questions about trails, parking, which trails are favored by hikers, bikers and equestrians, etc. Sheila is an avid hiker, former ARC board member and enjoys leading hikes in and around Auburn and Highway 49 for ASRA Canyon Keepers and Sierra Club Seniors. She is an author, historian and Road Scholar leader. Call for meeting location (Coloma area) and to sign up. Responsible teens welcome. Suggested donation: $5/members, $10/non-members.

Red Shack (aka Old Ditch or Flume Trail) Hike
Saturday, April 5, 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Donna Orth, ARC volunteer, will lead this (3.8-mile round-trip) hike. The trail is a steep road which may discourage some, but takes hikers to the river near Racehorse Bend rapid and lots of great BLM land. You will explore the old ditch that was in working order until the 1997 flood, which damaged it beyond reasonable repair. Fit people 10 and older welcome. Steady rain postpones. Contact ARC to sign up and for meeting location (Placerville area). Suggested donation: $5/members, $10/non-members.

Windy Point Hike (near Colfax)
Saturday, April 12, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
History enthusiasts Paul Whiting and Evan Jones will lead this hike along a little-known spring wild-flower wonderland above the scenic North Fork American River. We will visit a 1928 suspension bridge, an 1851 stage road, a river picnic spot and the historical Dinner Tree. Geology, biota, mining and railroad history of the local area will be discussed. This is a 4-miles hike with 1,000 feet elevation gain, moderately strenuous with some steep places requiring care. Ages 10 and older welcome. Rain or shine. Call for meeting location (Auburn area) and to sign up. Suggested donation $5/members, $10/non-members.

KDD-Outdoor Play and Exploration
Saturdays, April 12 and May 17, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. (end at your own time)
Often times, the “unstructured play” element of outdoor experiences is overlooked. This is an opportunity for all of us to enjoy a day of unstructured outdoor play and exploration. We invite you and your family to come and join ARC’s Education Team for a brief morning discussion and activity and then we’ll loan-out exploration backpacks, complete with some handy nature tools (e.g. critter collection boxes, magnifiers, nets, binoculars, field guides, etc.), so you can embark on a self-guided nature walk through the Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park letting the experience of being outdoors guide you. You’re on your own schedule at this point, so when you feel ready to return your exploration backpacks, come on back to the Nature Center and share with us what excited you, what you saw or what you heard and then we’ll keep a record of it and update it each time we host this program. Whether you’re an avid outdoor adventurer yourself, or a budding outdoor enthusiast, this is sure to be a fun and inspiring avenue for us all to share the wonders of the outdoors with others. (Program starts at 11:00am, with the intention that participants join us for a 20-minute group discussion and activity of the day, check-out their exploration backpacks, then embark on your own self-guided nature walk with whatever timeframe you desire. Backpacks need to be returned to the American River Nature Center by 3 p.m.). Call for meeting location (Coloma area) and to sign up. Ages 5 and older welcome with parents. Suggested donation $5.

Kanaka Valley Hike
Sunday, April 13, 9 a.m. to noon
Join Tom Petersen for a hike at the lovely and diverse Kanaka Valley. This property became Federal public land (BLM) in February 2010 through a cooperative acquisition process involving ARC, the Bureau of Reclamation and BLM to preserve riparian, hardwood and oak woodland habitat as well as to help protect populations of federally listed plant species. Kanaka Valley has a high diversity of plants and animals; some of the rare plant species that grow here are found nowhere else in the world. Call for meeting location (Rescue area) and to sign up. Suggested donation: $10.

Water Wise Landscapes: An Introduction to Gardening with California Natives
Saturday, April 26, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
2013 was the driest year in California on record, and although California receives the bulk of its precipitation in January through April, it’s always good to be prepared for a drought scenario. Learn some helpful tips on how to get the most out of your home landscape during water-lean times. Not only are California native plants more adapted to our Mediterranean climate, many species are drought-tolerant, low maintenance, deer resistant and attract pollinators. ARC’s Elena DeLacy will present innovative and inspiring ways to incorporate California natives into your home garden. Call for meeting (Coloma area) and to sign up. Ages 12 and older welcome. Cost: $10/members, $15/non-members.

Botany Treasure Hunt: Spring Botany Walk
Sunday, April 27, 10 a.m. to noon
Join Robert Mackler, ARC volunteer, naturalist, and photographer, for this treasure hunt on a local nature trail. On this easy 1-mile walk you’ll be given clues and instruction and learn about botany as you hike. Call for meeting location (Lotus area) and to sign up. Responsible teens and older welcome. Rain cancels. Suggested donation $5/members, $10/non-members.

North Fork Cosumnes River Wildflower Hike
Sunday, May 4, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
ARC’s Conservation and Stewardship Project Manager Elena DeLacy will lead this moderately strenuous natural history and botanical hike on one of ARC’s first acquisitions on the Cosumnes River. The 80-acre property continues to be owned and managed by ARC, and is usually not open to the public. This 1.5-mile trail meanders through upland oak woodland habitat and culminates in a spectacular view of the Cosumnes River canyon. Wildflower bloom dependent on weather conditions. Some elevation changes. Ages 8 and older welcome. Call for meeting location (Placerville area) and to sign up. Suggested donation: $10. 

Fishing on the Farm
First Tuesday of each month (starting in May), 6 to 8:30 p.m.
ARC is partnering with the El Dorado Chapter of Trout Unlimited for a monthly fishing night at the Wakamatsu Colony Farm in Gold Hill.  Try your hand at casting techniques, catch a few bass, and enjoy the serenity of the 8-acre lake at the historic farm. Participants MUST have a valid CA fishing license. Adults only. Rain or shine. Call to sign up and for meeting location (Gold Hill/Placerville area). Cost: $10/members, $15/non-members.  

Taiko: Japanese Drumming
Saturday, May 10, 4:40 to 6 p.m.
Come and learn the powerful art of Taiko (Japanese drumming)! Taiko is a comprehensive art form that includes elements of music, dance, martial arts, theater, and team sports. Kristy Oshiro, Instructor at Sacramento Taiko Dan, will be teaching the workshop and has more than 22 years of Taiko experience. No experience or musical ability is necessary. We will cover everything from the history of the art form to learning an entire song! Ages 9 and older welcome. Cost: $40/members, $45/non-members.  

Family Fishing event
Saturday, May 10, 4 to 6 p.m.
We’ve had several requests for family fishing events, so here’s our first. Bring the kids for an enjoyable evening of fishing on the Farm. This large pond contains bass (sometimes as large as 5-6 inches), small and large mouth, bluegill and perch. ARC’s AmeriCorps member Kristin Powell will host this family event on our Wakamatsu Colony Farm site. Adults fishing must have valid fishing license. Contact ARC to sign up and for meeting location (Gold Hill/Placerville area). Cost: $5/children, $10/adults or $20/family. Rain cancels. 

Discovering and Mapping Emigrant Trails of No. California and Nevada
Thursday, May 15, 6:30 to 8 p.m.
The goal of the Oregon-California Trails Association is to preserve all transmigration trails to the west. Combining emigrant diaries, historic maps and modern technology, mapping teams of the California-Nevada Chapter are able to locate and map emigrant trails of the Gold Rush era.  Teams are actively working on emigrant trails in El Dorado County. John Winner, president of the California-Nevada Chapter and Dee Owens, trail mapper and webmaster, will explain the work they do in the Eldorado National Forest and mapping with computer software. Contact ARC to sign up and for meeting location (Coloma area). Cost: $5/members, $10/non-members.

Jenkinson Lake Hike
Sunday, May 18, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
This 9-mile loop around the lake has beautiful views of the water from most of the trails. It is fairly easy, but be sure you’re up for the distance. We’ll stop for a leisurely lunch along the way. Donna Orth, ARC volunteer, will be leading this hike with a waterfall along the way (if rain comes this season). Steady rain cancels. Contact ARC to sign up and for meeting location (Pollock Pines area). Suggested donation $5/members, $10/non-members.

Let’s Make a Gourd Birdhouse
Saturday, May 31, 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Join us for this great springtime activity, especially with children. Learn about gourds, and gourd-craft. Learn a bit more about birds, and share your knowledge of birds. Roberta Almerez is a gourd crafter and art teacher living in Sacramento. She works at the Short Center North, an art center for disabled adults. Ages 6 and older welcome. Contact ARC to sign up and for meeting location (Coloma area). Cost: $12/members, $15/non-members.

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