On Saturday, October 15th, the Transition Habitat Conservancy in Pinon Hills hosted its 2022 Garden Party fundraiser. Since 2005 the non-profit organization has been hard at work preserving and protecting the unique ecosystems in the Mojave Desert. They accomplish that through land acquisition and have acquired over 7000 acres throughout Southern California, which includes 350 acres right here in Pinon Hills, where the conservancy first began. They named the area Puma Canyon Ecological Reserve, and it is remarkably unique for the transition zone in which the desert landscape transitions and transforms into the mountain region. As land stewards, they are dedicated to restoring the natural land for wildlife habitat and rely greatly on grants, individual donors, and volunteers.
Caitlin Stack has been a member of Girl Scout Troop 1101 and a long-term volunteer with the conservancy for the past several years. Through volunteer work, her troop has helped pollinator revival by providing bird, bat, and bee habitats at the reserve. When asked why she continues volunteering with Transition Habitat year after year, she said, “I love how involved they are in nature. I’ve always been attracted to nature. I’m wearing bee socks right now!” Stack, along with other members of her troop, helped sell the honey at the event that was harvested from the bee habitats along with Transition Habitat tee shirts and milkweed, which are essential plants for the survival of the Monarch Butterfly. A Monarch Way Station is another habitat project that has thrived at Puma Canyon. It supports pollinators while also serving as part of their educational outreach, where they host a butterfly event each spring to release the Monarchs into the wild.
The Garden Party also included a silent auction to raise funds for the organization. An impressive collection of wildlife photos were auctioned that were taken on the Transition Habitat lands and depicted owls, deer, and mountain lions in their natural environment. Other items for bid included a one-week stay in Whitefish, Montana, wine from Corunce Vineyards in Lancaster, a personal tour and guided hike with a geologist, and many other nature-inspired gifts. Live music was provided by acoustic guitar player and musician Jojo Basiloy, while a variety of delicious tacos were served from AllGaytan Taco Catering.
Falconer Steve Shaw was also in attendance with his two-year-old Peregrine Falcon, Pauline. Shaw uses his falcon to educate others on the importance of raptors in the desert, especially the native Prairie Falcon, which is essential to the desert ecosystem. Shaw provided an informative talk about falconry with Transition Habitat in the spring and said he enjoys partnering with them, stating, “I believe in what they are doing, and they actually let people on their lands.”
The Transition Habitat Conservancy is set to acquire more parcels of land within the next year and hopes for even more expansion in the future. Executive Director Sam Easley expressed his gratitude to the attendees stating, “We’re really going after any funding sources that we can, and we do it through writing grants, we do it through generous donations from people like you […] and in addition to that, from fundraisers like this.”
If you want to donate to the organization, volunteer, or visit the Puma Canyon Ecological Reserve, visit their website at www.transitionhabitat.org.