A small, invasive pest known as the Gold Spotted Oak Borer beetle made its way from Arizona in recent years and has threatened oak trees throughout California. Oak trees in San Diego were devastated by the arrival of these beetles. After a population of beetles were found in Weir Canyon, the team quickly jumped into action to contain the threat, but the oak population was still impacted. The Canyon 2 Fire in 2017 provided an additional stress to the ecosystem, causing damage to the young oak trees and the surrounding habitat. The oak population in Weir Canyon was in need of assistance.
After Dr. Ramon Perez’s recent passing in 2022, he left an incredibly generous donation of $5,000 to help enhance his favorite area, the Weir Canyon Nature Preserve. IRC’s Project Manager, Isaac Ostmann decided to use these funds to develop an oak enhancement project with the goal of planting 50 oaks to help support the population in Upper Weir Canyon. This project, led by Program Coordinator Matilde De Santiago, began on April 11 and has already seen 30 oaks planted.
Acorns harvested for this project were gathered from Weir Canyon Nature Preserve and another of Dr. Perez’s favorite locations on the Landmarks, Limestone Canyon. These acorns were seeded in the nursery and grown for a full year before being planted. Protective fencing will be put in place around the newly planted oaks to protect them from deer knocking them over and other outside factors that could impede their growth. As oaks can take a decade or more to mature and be durable enough on their own, nurturing these young oaks will be a labor of love for the next few years and a mix of public and private monthly stewardship activities will be held so that volunteers can help to water, weed, mulch, keep the oaks growing straight, maintain fencing and ensure the oaks are protected from Gold Spotted Oak Borer beetles.
The next planting, Nurturing Oaks in Weir Canyon, takes place on May 9 and invites the public to participate in this stewardship, honoring the memory of Dr. Ramon Perez. Since the project site is fairly remote, volunteers will be driven to the area in one of IRC’s safari trucks. Participants will also be guided by Matilde on an interpretive nature walk to learn about the surrounding area, the importance of oak trees and the meaning of this project. With the joint efforts of the IRC team, its volunteers and Dr. Ramon Perez’s passion and generosity, Weir Canyon Nature Preserve’s Oak woodland will continue to thrive and provide lasting memories for Dr. Perez’s family and all who visit.
To learn more about upcoming “Nurturing Oaks” activities, visit LetsGoOutside.org or follow the Landmarks on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.