Jasper Ridge

NATURE’S CLASSROOM
Jasper Ridge, Stanford’s natural treasure,
celebrates its first 25 years as a biological preserve

By Yvonne Daley


a coyote turns to glare at the human intruders near the entrance to the Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve, then lopes off across an open meadow. Higher up the ridge, bluebirds flutter among spreading branches of newly leaved valley oaks. Acorn woodpeckers sound a raucous chatter. Their loud “ja-cob, ja-cob” sounds like a call to wake up, wake up.

California poppies Herb Dengler needs no reveille. He’s been up and on the ridge for hours now. Nattily dressed in casual shirt, string tie, sport pants and his signature moccasins, Dengler watches the woodpeckers as they drill a ring of holes in handsome old oaks. “They’re communists, you know,” he jokes, referring to a species that lives together and raises its young communally.

He moves on, silently treading through a patchwork of leaf litter on his way to a trail he carved himself, roughly 75 years ago. As he winds uphill, his talk mean- ders easily from tectonics and geology to birds and ecosystems. Dengler first studied, then taught biology at Stanford before retiring more than a decade ago. But his education in natural history began here at Jasper Ridge when he was a 5-year-old, following his father’s hushed footsteps on quail-hunting expeditions. Over the years, he has continued walking through every part of this ridge, thankfully immune to the poison oak that bars visitors and researchers from the denser areas.

Jasper Ridge (Plain text)

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