News from the Mission Trails Regional Park Foundation – Aug. 22, 2016

By Jay Wilson

Two new exhibits

The “Wildlife of Mission Trails,” with its two 42-inch touchscreen monitors, and “Wildland Fires,” featuring a video emphasizing the danger of flying embers from wildland fires, are the newest exhibits on display upstairs in the Exhibit Hall of the Visitor Center.

Touch the wildlife monitor and you can select from a variety of animals found in Mission Trails: mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, insects, butterflies, spiders and more. As an example, touch “mammals” and spectacular photos of 12 mammals are displayed. Touch “mountain lion” and another mountain lion photo appears along with text about the animal. Touch “More Info” and additional information is presented along with a colorful map depicting its habitat. You can also hear the sounds made by many of the animals.


The new “Wildland Fires” exhibit in the Mission Trails Park Visitor Center uses an interactive video monitor. (Courtesy of Mission Trails Regional Park Foundation)

The exhibit was created by Mission Trails Regional Park Volunteer Trail Guides Fred Kramer, who developed the content and presentation design; Bill Howell and Wendy Esterly also developed content; and software development was donated by Steve Birch. The exhibit was funded by the MTRP Foundation, SDG&E, Tierrasanta Kiwanis Club, Shannon O’Dunn and Wal-Mart.

The Wildland Fire exhibit depicts how strong winds and burning chaparral can produce nearly invisible flying embers that can ignite a fire over five miles away from the fire front. Often, these embers can enter a home undetected, resulting in catastrophic loss of property. Many people rightfully fear the moving wall of flames; however, flying embers can be the greater threat. In fact, during the 2007 fire, homes were burning when the fire-front was 80 minutes away.

“As dry and warm weather has returned, public safety officials are bracing for an already active wildfire season in the San Diego region,” said Councilmember Scott Sherman in a statement. “To help educate residents, a new exhibit recently opened at the Mission Trails Regional Park (MTRP) Visitors Center to warn about the dangers of flying embers. Thanks to the hard work of park volunteers and staff, as well as the financial support from Councilmember Chris Cate, my office and the MTRP Foundation, the exhibit is now open.”

Key contributors to the development of the exhibit were: Ranger Araceli Dominguez, MTRP Foundation Board Member Pat Abbott, Retired CALFIRE Deputy Fire Chief Kelly Zombro, MTRP Foundation Administrative Assistant Maggie Holloway, and MTRP Foundation Board Member and Exhibit Committee Chair, Dorothy Leonard. Pat Mooney and Mark Schulze, owners of Crystal Pyramid Productions, produced the video and donated over half the cost of producing the video.

“Fire season is already proving to be extremely severe in central and northern California,” said city of San Diego Fire-Rescue Chief Brian Fennessy. “This exhibit shows it’s not only homes near canyon rims that need to be prepared. All of San Diego must be prepared and do its part to prevent the spread of wildfires.”

Music and Art at the Visitor Center
Amy Kaner returns with her Celtic harp to the Visitor Center Theater on Sunday, Aug. 21. On Sept. 4, renowned guitarist Peter Sprague will perform; and on Sept. 18, join percussionist H. Scott Robinson for another great concert. All the concerts are free and begin at 3 p.m. Seating is limited to 93. Per the Fire Marshall, all concert guests must be seated during the program. There are two areas for wheelchairs.

“Life of Bounty” featuring the nature photography of John Valois, is the current art exhibition in the Visitor Center Gallery and will be up through Sept. 9. The digital camera, Photoshop and Painter have become the artistic tools which help him not only reflect the reality of the moment but also realities as one would re-imagine them. Sept. 10 through Oct. 7, eight artists will be exhibiting artwork in a variety of media: photography, mixed media, acrylic, scratchboard, oil, and digital painting. Their public reception will be from 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 17.

Visit our website at for a complete listing of all the activities and events at Mission Trails.

—Jay Wilson is executive director of the Mission Trails regional Park Foundation. Reach him at

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