FALLBROOK – Sixty guests enjoyed an evening of art and fine dining at the Fallbrook Land Conservancy’s (FLC) 14th annual Emerald Grove event honoring land donors, major contributors and one longtime volunteer.
Held on May 3, the event combined a reception and buffet dinner at Café Des Artistes with a special viewing of the “21st Annual Reflections of Nature” wildlife art show at the adjacent Fallbrook Art Center.
Mary Perhacs, the center’s executive director, welcomed guests, noting the shared history of the wildlife show and the FLC. She introduced Gamini Ratnavira, a famed local artist who organized the first show in 1993, when it was originally held at the conservancy’s historic Palomares House and Park.
Ratnavira recalled the show’s early days and the combined efforts of the two nonprofits in their appreciation of nature. Several other artists from the wildlife show were also on hand, sharing with guests the stories behind their work.
In a brief presentation, Joan Zimmerman, vice chairman of the FLC, announced that donations from Emerald Grove members topped $165,000 in 2013. “Our Emerald Grove members have made the difference in our ability to continue to improve and enhance our open spaces for the benefit of all,” Zimmerman said.
Contributors to the conservancy qualify to be Emerald Grove members by donating land or $1,000 or more in a year. In 2013, there were more than 40 organizations, businesses, couples and individuals who contributed funds at that level.
Gary Beeler, chairman of the FLC’s board of directors, presented the Gem of a Volunteer award to Linda Promack, a longtime volunteer of the FLC. Promack will serve for her seventh year as auction chair of the conservancy’s annual Stagecoach Sunday fundraiser, to be held this year on Oct. 5.
“I really appreciate what the land conservancy has done for Fallbrook,” said Promack. “I brought my children to the very first Stagecoach Sunday event and it is a pleasure to be a part of its growth and its success. I am honored by this award.”
Mike Peters, the FLC’s executive director and preserve manager, also briefed attendees on several recently completed projects, including the planting of 15,000 plugs of native grassland at Dinwiddie Preserve. Coastal sage scrub was also recently planted at Los Jilgueros Preserve in an effort to expand habitat for the Southwestern Willow Flycatcher, which is federally listed as endangered.
The plantings, along with removal of invasive species, are part of a habitat restoration project funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resource Conservation Service. The project continues through 2017 and also includes Dinwiddie and Heller’s Bend preserves.
Future projects include the installation of three nesting islands for water fowl at Los Jilgueros, added Peters. He also introduced Brendan Kennedy, a new employee and member of the conservancy’s land management team. The FLC owns and manages a total of 11 nature preserves on more than 2,025 acres of permanently protected open space and over 660 acres of conservation easements.
For more information, visit www.fallbrooklandconservancy.org.