Soil Ecology Restoration Group

last update April 1st, 2009

Heber Dunes

Heber Sand Dune Park is located approximately seven milesnortheast of Calexico, California in Imperial County, just west of theAlamo River and roughlythree miles north of the International Border. It is bordered on the eastby the South Alamo Canal,on the north by Heber Road, and on the south and west by agriculturalfields. It is approximately340 acres in size and, though much of the area is highly disturbed, is thelast remaining pocket ofnatural habitat for many miles in any direction. Use of the park appearsto be currently limited tooff-highway vehicle activity and target practice.

The park has been under the aegis of Imperial County Parks and Recreation Department, but is now being transferred to the California Department of Parks and Recreation with direct oversight being given to the Ocotillo Wells State Vehicular Recreation Area. The State Parks and Recreation Department desires that a baseline vegetation and wildlife survey be conducted to identify what vegetation communities are located within the park, what the ecological status of these communities is and what wildlife species are currently making use of the parks habitats. Such information is required to effectively manage the recreation area.

Wildlife surveys will be conducted in selected vegetation communities to obtain a representative species listing for the Park. Sampling will be conducted for each group as describes below. An initial visit to the Park was conducted on 3 May 1998 to identify basic plant communities located within the Park and determine the number of sample plots required to accomplish the baseline data survey. We recommend that vegetation sample plots be established in the following six plant communities: tamarisk/sand dune; arrow weed/baccharis shrub; disturbed arrow weed/baccharis shrub; saltbush scrub; creosotebush scrub; disturbed willow/cottonwood riparian woodland.

Vegetation community analysis will be conducted on established plots using a modified California Native Plant Society methodology. Species composition, density and diversity will be analyzed with sampling occurring over a several day period during the late spring of 1998.

Birds will be sampled through direct observation over selected sampleplots (recommend samplingbe done on the creosotebush scrub, disturbed riparian and arrowweed/baccharis plots) using avariable distance transect method. Observations will be conducted onlyduring peak daily birdactivity, normally from one hour prior to sunrise for approximately fourhours and fromapproximately one hour prior to sunset for an additional two hours. Bothsight and vocalizationwill be used to identify species within the plot areas. Speciescomposition, density and diversitywill be analyzed.

Reptiles will be sampled on selected plots (recommend sampling be done on the tamarisk/sand dune, creosotebush scrub and saltbush scrub plots) through the use of line transects and time constraint searches. Sample plots will be searched through actively turning over rocks. Logs and other debris during both morning and evening hours, for approximately fours hours each time, during the late spring/early summer months (May - July) of 1998. Species composition, density and diversity will be analyzed.

Small mammal trapping will be conducted on selected sample plots(recommend sampling be done on the tamarisk/sand dune, creosotebush scruband disturbed riparian habitat plots) using line transect tapping andstandard mark and recapture methods. Animals will be trapped over a twoto three day period during late spring/early summer months (May - July) of1998. Captured animals will be identified, weighed, measured, eartaggedand released and species composition, density and diversity will beanalyzed.