Red-Legged Frogs at San Onofre State Beach?

26 06 2014

What’s hoppin’ at Uppers?

Not this poor little guy.

iPhone5-sized frog (with flash)

iPhone5-sized frog (with flash)

iPhone5-sized frog (without flash)

iPhone5-sized frog (without flash)

On Wednesday, June 25th, I found him in the sand at water’s edge at the mouth of San Mateo Creek, the lagoon that flows into our favorite surf spot, Upper Trestles, at San Onofre State Beach. He had already expired very recently, maybe from the salt water, but the nearby sea gulls had not spotted him yet.

Have you ever heard of the Caliornia Red-Legged Frog (Rana draytonii), a “threatened” species under the Federal Endangered Species Act?   There are protected “critical habitats” throughout many areas of California for this species, from the coast to the mountains, though I didn’t see any areas mapped for Orange County.

Now I am not a herpetologist, but this does appear to be a frog.  And, it does appear to have reddish legs.  So, I passed it along to the San Clemente State Park staff to determine what to do with it.

If it is a red-legged frog, it would not be the first species on the Federal ESA list to be found in the San Mateo Creek watershed.  It is one of the last mostly-untouched wilderness areas along the Southern California coast.  Thank God for the Marines and their Camp Pendleton Base that protects the lower watershed and divinely-created critters like this.

Let’s all do our part to preserve the nature around us that makes Trestles such an idyllic refuge for all of us.

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San Onofre’s Trestles — The Countdown to Closure?

12 06 2014

There may not be a crowd at Trestles after 2021.

Many times we forget that Trestles, even Uppers, is part of the larger San Onofre State Beach, which is mistakenly believed by many to be in Orange County (actually it is in San Diego County).

The 2,900-plus-acre State Beach was created in 1971 through a 50-year lease from Camp Pendleton to the State of California. Verbal history says that President Nixon, who spent his holidays at the Cotton mansion at Cotton’s Point (referred to as the Western White House), actually lobbied the Department of the Navy to allow the arrangement. More can be found at this link.

Prior to 1971, surfers traveled beyond the barbed wire at Cotton’s (now called “Barbed Wires”) at their own risk. There are the stories of Marines firing in the air to convince trespassing surfers to come to the beach to turn themselves in. Others will tell you of the times they lost their boards (pre-leash days) only to have them picked up by the MP’s as they washed up on shore. When you went in to claim your board, you were automatically arrested, driven to the Provost’s office at Church, and fined. If you were under 18, your parents got a call. It depended on the officer as to whether you would be taking your board home with you.

In 1970, as an experiment, the Marines allowed the State to open the long bluffs portion of the beach (commonly referred to as “Trails”) to the public, but just for a few weeks in the summer. Fortunately, everyone behaved and the arrangement was made permanent. Interesting side story, during that short temporary opening, fishermen on the beach pulled a lot of great fish from the shallow reef, because the area had not been fished in decades. The following year, the lease was approved and the gates were opened to the public.

Today, we mostly don’t think Trestles could ever be closed to surfers again. But, the lease is up in 2021. It should be interesting to watch the Navy’s maneuvers over the next few years. Will the Crowd thin?





Tiger, er Leopard, Sharks at Upper Trestles

4 06 2014

Did you see it?

There — swimming all around you. Sharks!

Over the last few years, after the lagoon at Uppers was reconfigured (a product of hydrogeomorphology) by six months of flow from San Mateo Creek, a family of leopard sharks have moved in for the long haul.

Even though they are ominous looking, they are really not “that kind of shark.” They are more like sand sharks than Great Whites. As soon as you get close to them, they jet into the shadows of the kelp attached to the rocks.

Usually, that is the case. But, the other day, at super low tide I almost got a free ride to shore. When I took a step, I landed my foot smack dab on top of the grandaddy of the Uppers Lagoon family. I swear it was at least 4 feet long. Or, maybe it was 10 feet long. Regardless, it fortunately was more scared of me than I was of it and took off. No tooth marks, which is more than I can see for the two inches of skin I lost on the barnacles in the same lagoon.

If you want more info on leopard sharks, here is a good link:

While we all need to worry about the “snakes” in the lineup at Uppers, at least we don’t need to worry about the sharks in the lagoon.





Back at Last

4 06 2014

I’m back!

The Mind of Norr

The Mind of Norr


Like it or not, after a long break for a lot of reasons, I am here to keep you up to date on all topics Upper Trestles.

During the 27 months of quiet, my personal life has gone through a lot of changes and challenges, none of which you are probably interested in hearing. So, we will get back to the action at one of our favorite surf spots in all the world.

Let’s join The Crowd!