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    Nature Knowledge Workshop Canceled for 2015

    Regretfully, we have to cancel this year's NKW. We were expecting Foster Lodge to be restored to usability by this summer, but unfortunately it is not to be.

    Stand by... we will be working on possible alternatives for later in the year.

    For those who have already registered and paid, refunds will posted back to to the payment card you used to register.


    Nature Knowledge Workshop Returns

    The Nature Knowledge Workshop (NKW) is the premier outdoor educational event held by the San Diego Chapter of the Sierra Club. Over the last 36 years, we have led thousands of people on nature walks through the Laguna Mountain region of San Diego County. Held every June at the historic and scenic Foster Lodge, participants experience an outdoor adventure like none other.

    This year, we will hold a revised program due to the constraints on the Foster Lodge after the devastating Chariot Fire. We will hold two separate, daily programs instead of the historic two day, two night event. You may attend either or both daily programs. But please be aware, no overnight stays are allowed at the Foster Lodge.

    The Nature Knowledge Workshop (NKW) combines education and appreciation for our precious (and dwindling) natural resources with a sharing and a building of new friendships.  We hope you will leave the weekend with a renewed vigor towards a society respecting and preserving all living co-habitants.

    The Sierra Club's scenic Foster Lodge on Mt. Laguna (el. 5,800 feet, San Diego County).
    Saturday, June 13 8 AM – 5 PM 
    Sunday, June 14 8 AM – 5 PM. 
             Saturday Only or Sunday Only: $30 per person
             Both Saturday and Sunday: $50 per person
             Saturday Only or Sunday Only: $50 per person
             Both Saturday and Sunday: $70 per person

    (You may pay by Credit Card, select "Nature Knowledge Workshop" at our on-line store

    PLEASE NOTE: On-site, overnight camping at the Foster Lodge is currently not allowed. Particpants wishing to stay over night in the Laguna Mountain area will need to make their own arrangements at any of the several campgrounds or lodges in the area.

    Need further proof? Ask anyone who has previously participated.  The NKW usually fills up early (followed by a long waiting list). Please apply promptly.  For more information, email

    Refund policy: Cancellations received 14 days or more before the start date of the workshop will receive a full refund. Cancellations received less than 14 days before the start date will receive a 75-percent refund or may apply the whole amount to one of the workshops the following year.


    Idyllic Foster Lodge

    On the Flora & Fauna of the Foster Lodge Area

    By Emile Fiesler

    Near-pristine surroundings with a large biodiversity of plants and animals.  That is how our Sierra Club's idyllic Foster Lodge is situated.  The lodge itself is idyllic -- a historic cabin constructed with love from mostly of wood and boulders, -- and its surroundings enrich that impression, with refreshing nature abound and a breathtaking vista.

    The Foster Lodge is located at about 5500 feet elevation, high above the desert floor on the eastern-most range of San Diego County's peninsular mountains; the Laguna Mountains.  The highest parts of these roughly north-south oriented peninsular mountain ranges have unique climatic and geographic conditions that host ecosystems not found at lower elevations.  The discontinuity between these high-elevation ecosystems renders them sky islands.  The Laguna Mountains harbor large areas of preserved public lands; lands that preserve the natural beauty of these sky islands.

     Grand Collomia (Collomia grandiflora)

    Our Sierra Club is blessed with having our Foster Lodge surrounded by public land that has remained mostly unchanged and hosts a rich flora and fauna.  One only has to step out of the lodge to feel emerged in nature, with birds chirping, and greenery stretching in all directions.  A closer look reveals a surprising variety of plants and animals.  This variety is due to the unique location of the lodge on the interplay of two ecosystems: Oak-coniferous Forest and Mixed Chaparral.  Just across the Sunrise Highway, which provides motorized access to the Lodge, lie the Laguna Lakes, which are surrounded by meadows.  The lakes and meadows are other ecosystems close to the Lodge.  Not far from the lodge winds the Pacific Crest Trail, a 2,650 mile hiking trail connecting the Mexican and Canadian borders.  Near the lodge, the trail follows the crest of the Laguna Mountains.  On the east side of the crest, the mountain slopes down fairly steeply to the desert floor.  Those slopes are mostly arid and harbor a desert-like ecosystem.  On these slopes, north of the Lodge, is a spring that flows fresh water and is home to a lush riparian habitat.  Having such a rich selection of fairly pristine habitats close to the Lodge, renders the area an ecological gem with high biodiversity, as a broad variety of plants hosts a broad variety of animals.

    Walking through these ecosystems, one encounters wildflower gems like Grand Collomia (Collomia grandiflora) (see photo 1) and the exquisite Yellow Mountainbalm, also known as White Monardella, (Monardella nana) (see photo 2), as well as its cousin Hummingbird Mint (Monardella macrantha) (see photo 3). 

     Yellow Mountainbalm, aka White Monardella, (Monardella nana)

    The San Diego Chapter of the Sierra Club organizes its annual Nature Knowledge Workshop at the Foster Lodge.  Over the years, the workshop's docents have collected observations on the biodiversity of the area.  Thanks to their efforts, the avifauna, or bird biodiversity, of the area is quite well known.  The mammals, reptiles, and amphibians are more elusive and consequently less studied, but we have a reasonably solid understanding of what species are present.  The plants have also been studied to the extent that we have an fairly good idea of which prominent native wildflowers, shrubs, and trees are present in the area.  A more comprehensive plant list is a work in progress.  Remaining are the insects, arachnids, and other macro-invertebrates, which constitute the area's largest biodiversity.  These riches have barely been explored, and their study will likely bring forth a plethora of fascinating species, some of which new to science and endemic to the area.

     Hummingbird Mint (Monardella macrantha)

    Staying at the cozy Foster Lodge, gazing toward Garnet Peak, embedded in a flowing expanse of mountain ranges, pondering over the natural beauty of the area, is about as good as life gets.


    No NKW in San Diego this year

    Due to the unavailability of Foster Lodge, there will be no Nature Knowledge Workshop in San Diego this year.

    As an alternative, I would encourage folks to participate in the Sierra Club Angeles Chapter's Nature Knowledge Workshop being held on June 6-8 . For more information, go here:


    Foster Lodge is Off Limits

    As you know, the Chapter lost the small cabin in the Chariot fire.  Due to the age of the building, building materials containing asbestos were used.  The site is now considered a health hazard by the Forest Service and the Sierra Club.  When burned, asbestos can become airborne and poses a significant health risk.  In addition there may be other toxins in the burn debris.  The Chapter is in the process of having an environmental analysis of the area to determine what toxic contaminants exist and to what extent.   Disturbance of the debris area increases the likelihood of spreading contaminants beyond the debris field requiring a larger cleanup area and increased costs to the Chapter.
    The Chapter asks that you please respect this decision.  Your cooperation will help to protect the health and safety of our members and supporters and speed up the recovery process.