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By on December 6, 2022 in Featured, News, Newsletter


The western fence lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis) is one of the most common lizards found throughout the entire range of the western United States. You’ve probably spotted this species at an OVLC preserve, running across the trail or sunbathing on a rock. Often overlooked due to its prevalence in the valley, we might assume that the western fence lizard lacks unique qualities that make it special. However, the western fence lizard possesses a remarkable characteristic that is truly a gift to humankind. The western fence lizard has the ability to eat the most venomous spider in North America, the black widow (Latrodectus mactans), and it can also rid ticks of Lyme disease. The next time you encounter this species at the preserve, take the time to stop and appreciate it for the benefits it provides us. Oh, and if you see one hosting a tick, don’t worry! It’s just sanitizing that tick of Lyme disease. 


Step lightly. It is innate to tromp. Feet meant to stomp. Can I challenge you, on the trails, to step lightly? The lightness is not in the weight of the feet, but how feet connect to eyes. Step lightly because on the ground beneath are relatives. 

Ojai navarretia (Navarretia ojaiensis) is a rare endemic plant to this region. She likes the borders of chaparral and grasslands in clay soils. She expresses along the edges of trails as chaparral breaks to small openings. Like an array of annual wildflowers, they have the one chance at life, when conditions awaken them from soil. I often see plants like her, so rare and special to see, right at the cusp of our feet. It is important; the biodiversity of our region supports life. 

I encourage you to ponder this for a moment. Let the moment pass through fall heat, then fall fog. Let it soak in when rain comes. Then let the pondering stop when green visits again. Step lightly… 

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