The Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve is located West of Muiretta and Wildomar, CA. It is home to some of the continent's last vernal pools. Urban sprawl has caused much of the extinction of these small yet important eco systems. Located in the plateaus of the southern Santa Ana Mountains, the topography is a rolling range of native grassland, chaparral, scrub oak and rangesup to 2000 feet in elevation. The wildlife in this nearly 4000 acre reseve is vast. There are lizards, snakes owl, rodents-including the badger, cougar, coyote, muledeer and more. And of course, in the spring, the vernal pools. (Vernal, in Greek, means Spring.) The pools also have a vast ecosystem in and of themselves. Of the most curious is the fairy shrimp. The eggs can lie dormant for centuries-buried in the dirt and then, when the conditions are right, can hatch 100's of years after they have been deposited. The water is brachish, even though it is miles from the ocean. You can smell the salty organic scent of decomposing plantlife, shrimp and algae. You will also hear the constant drone of crickets as you walk through the grassland and over the boardwalk that will take you over the biggest of the vernal pools. Watch you kids! Don't let them fall in or even stick their fingers in the water. Our very skin can affect the growth and demise of these precious resources. Remind them to 'look with your eyes, not your hands..." Here are some pictures of our family enjoying our day at the reserve.