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Rocky Oaks National Park (Joy Burton)

Reviewed by: Joy Burton, Science Teacher, Sutter Middle School

Located in the 31500 block of Mulholland Highway west of the Kanan Road intersection. The entrance is on the north side of Mulholland Highway.

Directions: Take the Ventura Freeway (U.S. 101) to Kanan Road. South on Kanan Road to Mulholland Highway. Turn west (right) on Mulholland Highway and right again into the parking lot.

GPS Coordinates: N  34.0967 W -118.8141

DescriptionRocky Oaks National Park is nestled in the Santa Monica Mountains and is managed by the National Park Service. Just as it has for thousands of years, the park has provided food, shelter and other amenities for its guests and inhabitants. Habitats that coexist within this undeveloped 200 acres parcel include coastal sage scrub, grassland, oak woodland and chaparral communities. It also provides its natural inhabitants, such as deer, bobcats, coyotes, raccoons, water birds and plants a protected place to live.

The layout of the park is built around a pond with many surrounding hiking trails. For humans, it provides a place for visitors to relax, hike, picnic and view wildlife. Domesticated animals such as dogs and horses are allowed in the park.  Dogs must be on a leash and their owners must pick up after their dog. Hikers must yield to horseback riders and bicyclists must yield to hikers and equestrians.

Visitors hike at their own risk and must be alert to such critters as ticks, bees, rattlesnakes, and poison oak, as well as to the other dangers of walking and hiking in an open space of this kind. Visitors are to stay on established trails and should be aware that any natural and historic feature of the park is protected by law and not allowed to be taken from the park. Since fire is a constant danger, open fires and smoking are not permitted during times of high fire danger.

The mission of the National Parks Service is to manage the park "in a manner which will protect, enhance and preserve the scenic, natural, and historical setting and its public health value as an air shed for the southern California metropolitan area while providing for the recreational and educational need of the visiting public."

  • A life science teacher and students would benefit visiting Rocky Oaks National Park because they could witness practical examples of animal and plant habitats located in the Santa Mountain Mountains.
  • An environmental science teacher and students would benefit from a visit to Rocky Oaks National Park because it provides local and significant examples of coastal chaparral, oak savannah and sage scrub ecosystems.
  • Students could benefit from a visit to the park as they monitor the natural systems, measure human impacts and evaluate trends or changes in the different ecosystems that exist in this area.
  • The National Park Service would benefit from the data collected. Data could provide helpful indicators as to the health of the park.
Science Concepts Addressed:
  • Biomes and Ecosystems: In a small area one travels through coastal chaparral, oak savannah and sage scrub ecosystems.  When traveling from the school site to the field site various types of habitats will be observed.
  • Systems and Interactions:  Living organisms, Cells, Genetics, Evolution, Ecosystems, Geology, Natural resources, Meteorology.
  • Change Over Time:  Living and non-living organisms change over time.
  • Structure and Scale: Living organisms have characteristics and structures that enable them to live and interact in different environments. Temperature and rainfall determine the makeup of living organisms in a specific habitat.
  • Systems and Interactions: Living organisms interact with their environment that transmit energy through different trophic levels.
  • Water Quality: Public health issues and danger to natural systems arise when sewage disposal, drought conditions and pollutants invade water resources. Macroinvertebrates can be used as indicators of water quality.
  • Soil and Erosion: Improper  and over use of trails cause erosion and affects surrounding plant and animal life.
  • Human Impacts: Changes in plant cover and in the physical state of the ground surface can from soil compaction and erosion.
  • Vegetative Growth: Areas, such as Southern California, produces distinctive types of plants, because of its distinct Mediterranean climate.
  • Wildlife populations need shelter, space, food and water, therefore it is important to maintain their habitat. 
  • Seasonality relevant to the area as a result of changes in moisture and temperature.
  • Wildflowers can detect whether specific species, native or exotic, are increasing or decreasing in numbers.
Tasks for the students to perform while at the field trip site.
  1. Compass Use Activity: Establish the transect. Use compass and trundle wheel to locate quadrat area.
  2. Sampling by Quadrat: Measure and record altitude, air pressure, air speed and wind direction; Measure and record air quality, air temperature, relative humidity, soil temperature; Measure and record soil pH and soil percolation within the quadrat.
  3. Wildlife Investigation: Conduct an informal wildlife survey and record findings within and along the transect.
  4. Vegetative Growth Investigation: Conduct a sampling for the kind of plants present. Measure and record quantity, height, ground cover and any noticeable fire effects.
  5. Soil and Erosion Investigation: Sample a designated area along a trail, measure and record soil erosion that has occurred from trail use.
  6. Water Quality Investigation: Collect and measure the number of specimens in the water and use a biotic index to indicate the water quality of a stream/pond.
  7. Seasonality Investigation: Measure and record relative humidity, barometric pressure and temperature.
  8. Human Impacts Investigation: Observeand record human impacts on the land.
  9. Wildflower Investigation: Conduct an informal wildflower survey of the site, using an identification guide, and record findings.


Rocky Oaks National Park

Additional information:

Joy Burton,
Oct 19, 2011, 1:24 AM
Joy Burton,
Oct 30, 2011, 7:49 PM
Joy Burton,
Oct 18, 2011, 11:45 PM