Nancy Hamlett, Citizen Scientist

(This article appeared in our 2020 newsletter, The Post. The full newsletter is available here: Contact us here to be added to our mailing list:

The Claremont Hills Wilderness Park is a great place for volunteer and citizen scientists to explore and learn about Southern California’s native plant and animal species. Within the park there is an abundance of invasive, nonnative species. These can often disrupt native habitats. An important focus of the Claremont Hills Wilderness Park Master Plan is monitoring the natural environment to ensure that native and sensitive species survive and minimize the introduction and spread of nonnative species.

Nancy Hamlett, a retired professor of biology and a longtime resident of Claremont, is piloting two collection projects with the Friends of the Wilderness Park (FWP), the citizen support group established in the Master Plan. She and the FWP have created a collection project using an online network tool called iNaturalist. The project, called “Biota of the Claremont Hills Wilderness Park,” focuses on everything that lives in the park. So far, this project has documented nearly 1,200 observations and 358 species. A second CHWP collection project, using Calflora, another networked online application, is called “concerned with weeds”; its name speaks for itself. These online networks are helpful tools that allow us to combine our efforts in the Park and provide a mechanism to help scientists and naturalists share information. They have mobile phone apps that make it easy to upload photographs and quickly record observations.

Nancy Hamlett documents plants in her CHWP project. (Photo credit: Vicki Salazar)

Nancy’s work also includes finding and documenting sensitive species within the park, such as the crotch bumble bee (Bombus crotchoii). This bee is one of many species that have suffered a decline in population; it is now listed as a candidate endangered species. To bring awareness to its plight, California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s website featured a photograph of the crotch bumble bee taken by Nancy in the CHWP, their “photo of the month” for February 2020.

In addition to her work with the Friends of the Wilderness Park, Nancy has been the volunteer coordinator and webmaster for the Claremont Colleges’ Bernard Field Station for over ten years. Nancy’s knowledge and tireless volunteer work is invaluable to the CHWP and the City of Claremont.

~Vicki Salazar is a CWC Board Member and volunteer with the Friends of the Wilderness Park.

Letter from CWC President Terry Grill (from Autumn 2019 newsletter)

As I complete my second year as president of the Claremont Wildlands Conservancy, I am grateful for the vision set out in 2000 by our founders Nancy Wing and Suzanne Thompsonas well as the organizational foundation established by our previous president, Lissa Petersen. We have an exceptional volunteer board dedicated to achieving our purpose of expanding the amount of accessible and protected open space in the Claremont Hills Wilderness Park and surrounding area. Our board was strengthened this year by the addition of Alison Martinez and Muriel Poston. You can read more about them in this newsletter.

I am especially appreciative of Ali’s deep knowledge of the CHWP and its Master Plan as well as her passion for educating others about park appreciation and stewardship. I am also grateful that Muriel is willing to contribute her knowledge of botany, her thoughtful perspectives and passion for community and external engagement. Ali, Muriel and John Norvell are launching a new program to educate children about responsibly enjoying nature in their nearby Wilderness Park.

We reported in 2017 that the size of the Wilderness Park expanded by 463 acres thanks to the generous gift of Evey Canyon by Pomona College. During the last year, the property was officially accepted by the City of Claremont and work begun to integrate it into the CHWP. There are challenges. One is security at the parking lot at the entrance to the Evey Canyon trail and the other is the safety for pedestrians parking across Baldy Road. There is no continuity between the fire road at the CHWP and Evey Canyon since a portion of the fire road crosses private land.

Members of the Claremont Hills Conservation Corporation voted this year to dissolve. The organization was established to oversee the City of Claremont’s stewardship of the land originally donated by Pomona College to establish the Claremont Hills Wilderness Park. The City’s history of responsible management of the property and use of a well considered master plan for the park indicated that such oversight was no longer necessary. A portion of the remaining funds was donated to build a new kiosk at the Mills Avenue entrance to the CHWP.

The City continues to implement the CHWP Master Plan and to foster a culture of respect for wildlife in and neighbors living next to the park. Most important to the implementation are the 17 rangers who greet and assist visitors. I congratulate the Friends of the Wilderness Park, the grass roots organization working with the City, for the contributions they have made to establishing this culture. They greet visitors and pick up litter on the second Saturday of every month, have mapped invasive species and are working to establish an overall plan for signage. Please read about mapping invasive species and the iNaturalist project in another article in this Newsletter and go to to learn more.

The owner and developer of Clara Oaks, a 103-acre hillside parcel along Webb Canyon Road just north of the Webb School Campus, has recently submitted a draft Specific Plan for the development of luxury homes in the southern cluster area and the contribution of the rest of the property to the CHWP. While we welcome additional land for the CHWP, we continue to advocate for maintaining all available hillside properties adjacent to the CHWP as open space. We will, of course, continue to monitor the progress of this development.

I want to thank former board members Nick Jensen and Beverly Speak for their contributions over the last years. Both have moved to pursue other endeavors but their legacies remain.

I hope that all of you receiving our newsletter feel welcome to join our efforts by serving on one of our committees or joining us at our booth on Earth Day or Independence Day in the coming year. Please take a look at our new web site and let us know if you can find all that you hope to see. We welcome your comments and contributions of stories or photos. If you would like to contribute photos to our gallery, please email them with the photographer’s name and captions to hope to see you on the trails.

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