What a gorgeous day to put in some good work at the Benton Hot Springs Ranch Conservatoin Easement! Photo © Abbey Blair

What a gorgeous day to put in some good restoration work at the Benton Hot Springs Ranch Conservation Easement! Photo © Abbey Blair

We’ve been hard at work recently out at our Benton Hot Springs Ranch Conservation Easement, pulling cattailsto keep the ponds healthy and brimming with life. A couple weeks ago,ESLT Restoration & Education Coordinators / AmeriCorps Members Abbey Blair and Sara Kokkelenberg, plus ESLT Land Conservation Program Director Sus Danner headed out to the Benton Ponds with ESLT Board Member Tim Bartley and Steve Parmenter, Senior Environmental Scientistwith the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Also joining them was volunteer PaulPage, who brought along his drone to take some spectacular aerial mapping shots of the property!

Aerial image of Benton Ponds

Paul Page’s quadcopter took this stunning aerial shot of the Benton Ponds. It is so cool to see this protected landscape from such a unique angle! Paul also created two different composite images of the property – Click Here and Here to view the interactive map, and be sure to zoom in and check out the detail around the pod’s edge. Thank you so much for sharing this with us, Paul!

AfterPaulflew his quadcopteroverhead, Steve attempted to operatehis very unique boat – one with large teeth at the bow to cut cattails. Unfortunately the boat did not operate as hoped, so Steve joined Tim, Sus, and Abbey as they strapped into waders and went to work pulling up cattails by hand.Though cattails are native, it’s vital that we keep them in check; if left alone, they will fill the pond completely, making it unsuitable for Owens speckled dace – the rare desert fish for which we are restoring the Benton Ponds habitat.

We thank the landowner of Benton Hot Springs Ranch, Bill Bramlette, for allowing us to test this promising drone technology on his property. Our hope is that monitoring the pond with high quality aerials will improve our detection of new invasive plant populations, allowing us totake action early to prevent habitat loss.

On the whole, the day proved very successful. And wesure gotour boots muddy! We will be back at it again soon, and will definitely need help- are you willing to get muddy for a good cause? Please call our office at (760) 873-4554 if you’reinterested in volunteering with ESLT to help restore fish habitat this fall!