EcoCenCal Holiday Hike

On New Year’s Day, 2024 EcoCenCal hosted a Holiday Hike at China Creek Park near Centerville in Fresno County, CA.

The weather provided a perfect winter day to start the year. Chilly and misty though it was, we had an excellent turnout with 30 individuals, both independent and from other central valley environmental organizations. We toured the park in its dormant beauty, observing native plants and valley oaks and sycamore trees. Members of the local Audubon chapter performed a bird count and spotted an exciting 70 birds from 20 species. The local chapter of the California Native Plant Society, who manage fortnightly volunteer activities in the park, also hosted an information booth for participants in the hike. At the end of our woodland walk, we circled up and shared our intentions for 2024.

We were overjoyed to have such a diverse crowd, with teachers, students, and friends among us. We are also grateful for the local groups that turned out and shared the hike information with their members. The local members of organizations belonged to:

Holiday Hike Bird Count

Fallen leaves from Valley Oaks and Sycamores blanketed the path, and up in the naked trees, we were able to spot several feathered friends. Our two members of the Fresno Audubon Society, Radley Reep and John McDaniel, watched through binoculars. According to John and eBird stats, 144 bird species have been reported for the park. They were able to observe 20 of these in just over a mile. Incredible! Check out the list of birds they observed, which includes California Quail, Red-shouldered Hawk, and my personal favorite for its pretty song, the Red-winged Blackbird.

Summary of Intentions

During break, while munching apples and persimmon cookies, we shared our intentions and goals for 2024. Most everyone had a strong desire to spend more time in nature. Another common theme, as our attendee Judith put it, was to have an “attitude of gratitude”. A young student attendee expressed his wish to care for the pedosphere. While that’s a new word to me, I well understood the desire to care for our soils, as research has shown healthy soils are vital to all life, and can sequester excess carbon in the atmosphere. If you’d like to know more about soils, including regenerative agriculture, there’s an excellent documentary available on Netflix called “Kiss the Ground”. What a wonderful goal to care for the ground beneath our feet!

Nature & Volunteer Opportunities

Anyone who would like to experience nature on a regular basis would benefit from attending China Creek’s work parties. On the 2nd & 4th Saturdays of every month, CNPS hosts a park clean-up. Volunteers weed out invasive thistles, clear downed trees from the paths, and foster habitat for the park’s flora and fauna. It’s a great way to see the park in all seasons, from wildflowers and tree blossoms, to showy anemopsis, wild roses, and goldenrod as the seasons progress. Read more about the China Creek Project here.

Volunteering in the park also has social benefits! We enjoy sharing cookies, healthy in season snacks, and home brewed teas.

Another excellent way to create a relationship with natural resources is to attend cleanups along the Kings. Flowing northeast of the park, the Kings River is dotted with county parks where riparian nature can be enjoyed. Kings River Cleanups are the on the 3rd Saturday of every month.

Earth Day Fresno is also seeking volunteers, vendors, and exhibitors for it’s April 13th, 2024 event. It’s a free event at Fresno City College, open to the public and a perfect way to get involved. Mark your calendars! To volunteer, contact

Thank you for participating in the Holiday Hike!

We are sincerely grateful to be able to spend time with friends (old & new) in nature, what a wonderful way to start the new year!

EcoCenCal is a new community based organization focused on information and opportunity sharing. Check out our About page to learn more. And stay tuned for more posts on environmental stewardship in Central California!

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