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DPC Educational Bulletin from El Paisano Spring 2016, #222

1437_lambs-ewe-pose_kw-smallThanks to Desert Protective Council for adding information on Mark Jorgensen’s award-winning Desert Bighorn Sheep.  This article by Janene Colby captivates from beginning to end and gives a first-person glimpse into the life of a fish and wildlife biologist including the joys of observation and the concerns about anthropogenic threats.

It begins, “On a brilliantly clear February morning, I sit quietly on the saddle of a ridgeline looking through my spotting scope at a group of bighorn sheep bedded on the opposite slope. So far I’ve counted 6 ewes (females) and a couple of lambs napping near their moms. Fortunately, I’m far enough away that my presence has not caused them to get up and move away. This group does not know it has a “Judas ewe” among them, allowing me to find them in this remote corner of the desert. Ewe 292 sports a collar that emits a radio signal I have tracked to this location using a hand-held receiver and directional antenna…”

Read the full article here:

Jorgensen’s Desert Bighorn Book Racks up Silver and Gold

Desert Bighorn Sheep
Desert Bighorn Sheep by Mark Jorgensen, 2015

April 13, 2016 – San Diego, CA – Continuing its tradition of producing quality works on the natural and cultural histories of the southwest deserts, Sunbelt Publications is pleased to share several new accolades with author and retired Anza-Borrego Desert State Park Superintendent Mark C. Jorgensen, photographer Jeff Young, and designer Kathleen Wise. Two of the most reputable agency awards in the independent publishing community, Independent Book Publishers Association’s Benjamin Franklin Awards, and Jenkins Group’s Independent Publisher (IPPY) Book Awards have recognized the immensely popular Desert Bighorn Sheep: Wilderness Icon with gold medal awards for cover design. Additionally, the book was awarded a Benjamin Franklin silver medal in the category of nature and environment and an IPPY silver for best regional nonfiction.

Diana Lindsay
President of Sunbelt Publications, Diana Lindsay

Diana Lindsay, president of Sunbelt Publications, was thrilled to hear about the multiple awards and said, “It is an achievement on several levels that recognizes the outstanding photography of Jeff Young, the design skills of Kathleen Wise, and the dedication and expertise of Mark Jorgensen who is a resounding spokesman for the desert bighorn sheep.”

Mark Jorgensen has spent a lifetime studying and tracking desert bighorns throughout their range. Following his 36-year career in California State Parks, he continues to be a leading authority on bighorn sheep and is currently on the technical staff of the Desert Bighorn Council and is an advisor to the Bighorn Institute. In his efforts to protect this iconic species, Jorgensen frequently advocates on their behalf through public presentations and media outlets, the book serving as an invaluable tool in this endeavor, as Desert Bighorn Sheep: Wilderness Icon is the most comprehensive photographic work ever published on this iconic symbol of the deserts of the southwest US and northern Mexico.

Mark Jorgensen, Author
Mark Jorgensen, Author

Jorgensen says of the awards, “What an honor simply to be considered in such esteemed award programs and what a thrill to win gold medals for cover design in both the Independent Publishers and the Benjamin Franklin Awards.  [Jeff Young and I] are also very honored with the silver medals. We have gratitude to the organizations, the judges, Sunbelt Publications and its staff, as well as our fellow authors and photographers who were among the superb field of competition.”

Awards Promo_AprilTo request an interview or speaking engagement with the author, or to propose a book review, please contact Sunbelt Publications marketing coordinator, Kara Murphy.

New Book Recalls Virginia City’s 19th Century “Lust for Lucre”

Nicholas ClappMay 4, 2016 – San Diego – Travel through time and the Devil’s Gate with the new book from acclaimed author and filmmaker Nicholas Clapp. Virginia City: To Dance with the Devil was published by Sunbelt Publications in January of this year and continues to gain recognition as the ever-popular speaker, Nicholas Clapp, visits audiences across the state, inviting readers to share the origins of infamy in the beloved weekend destination of Virginia City.

Virginia City: To Dance with the Devil is an amazing account of the history of Virginia City, told through colorful stories, amusing anecdotes, and over 300 images. It recollects a penniless Irish miner, who in a few short years amassed a fortune greater than any of America’s robber barons, simply by dint of hard work and intuition. It depicts to-be-famous writer Mark Twain discovering and honing his comic voice, and notorious “badman” Sam Brown lined with lead, with a coroner’s jury concluding, “It served him right.” It remembers the Virginia City mines, where men plunged into the scalding, hazardous heart of the earth, tantamount to partnering with hell’s dread demon, so that they could enjoy five Shakespeare companies performing at once, food rivaling Delmonico’s in New York, and frocks ordered directly from Paris to be worn in the barren, windswept, middle of nowhere. The twenty turbulent Bonanza years of Virginia City are celebrated in this book by a man renowned for his keen ability to conjure a vivid story from abstract history.

Documentary filmmaker and award-winning author Nicholas Clapp has explored, filmed, and written about deserts throughout the world. In Arabia, he led an expedition that discovered and unearthed the lost city of Ubar, celebrated in both The Bible and Arabian Nights. Closer to home, he has written about and roamed the deserts of the American West, with particular interest in the history of mining camps. His grandfather Daniel was a miner and when Clapp was 12, he tagged along on a shift working at the 800-foot level in the same mine where his grandfather later died in an underground accident. His great uncle George was the proprietor of a minstrel show touring mining camps, and Hannah Clapp was an 1850s Nevada schoolmarm. It was only natural then, that Clapp, along with his wife Bonnie, was drawn to Virginia City and a quest to recount and graphically illustrate the day-in, day-out story—and excitement—of a ramshackle desert settlement destined in its boom years to become the richest place on earth.

The month of May will see Clapp presenting in various Nevada locations, including:

Incline Village Library

(Incline Village, NV)

Thursday, May 19, 2016

6:30 PM

Verdi History Preservation Society

(Verdi, NV)

Saturday, May 21, 2016

7:00 PM

Sierra View Library

(Reno, NV)

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

4:30 PM

St. Mary’s Art Center

(Virginia City)

Friday, May 20, 2016

6:30 PM

Downtown Reno Library

(Reno, NV)

Sunday May 22, 2016

3:30 PM

Churchill County Museum

(Fallon, NV )

Thursday, May 26, 2016

6:30 PM

Nevada Historical Society

(Reno, NV)

Saturday, May 21, 2016

1:00 – 2:30 PM

Spanish Springs Library

(Sparks, NV)

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

6:00 PM

Nevada State Museum

(Las Vegas, NV)

Sunday, May 28, 2016

2:00-4:00 PM

Virginia CityFor further event details, visit  To arrange for a book review, event announcement, or author interview, please contact Sunbelt Publication’s Kara Murphy.

Distinguished Professor Rocks Ecology Tour

Dr. Markes E. JohnsonApril 4, 2016—San Diego, CA—The third week in May marks the arrival in San Diego of a distinguished scholar on Mexico’s Sea of Cortéz region.  Dr. Markes E. Johnson, Professor Emeritus at Williams College, will visit our city from Monday, May 16, to Friday, May 20, 2016, in promotion of his recently published book, Gulf of California Coastal Ecology: Insights from the Present and Patterns from the Past.

Gulf of California Coastal Ecology was published by Sunbelt Publications this January.  The book serves as a handbook for students, scholars, and outdoor enthusiasts and takes an oft forgotten natural history approach to the ecology of this south-of-the-border region.  Rather than presenting fossil records and existing ecological features in isolation, Johnson draws on more than 12 million years of fossil record to make connections between multiple, interlocking ecosystems that exist today, providing a holistic overview on geography, ecology, and geology.

A current nominee for the prestigious James H. Shea Award for the writing of earth science materials, Johnson has published several books as well as scientific papers and articles on the geology of the Sea of Cortéz region.   While in San Diego, Dr. Johnson will deliver several lectures on topics introduced in the book. These include a lecture on tectonic decapitation of a Pliocene delta for the San Diego Association of Geologists, a lecture on the journey of Ed Ricketts and John Steinbeck to the Sea of Cortez for the President’s Council at the San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy, a seminar on ecological succession recorded in fossil Pleistocene reefs for students and faculty at Scripps’ Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation, and a public presentation on Isla Monserrat at San Diego’s Adventure 16.  Gulf of California Coastal Ecology will be available for sale through Adventure 16.  Event details are as follows:

Gulf of California

Date: Monday, May 16, 2016

Time: 7:00 pm (Happy half-hour begins at 6:30)

Host: Adventure 16

Lecture topic: “To the Roof of Monserrat: Climbing for Science in Baja California.”

Location: Adventure 16 –4620 Alvarado Canyon Rd. San Diego, CA 9212

Phone: (619) 283-2374

Cost: Free and Open to the Public


To inquire about one of these lectures, about scheduling a lecture with Dr. Johnson, or for media inquiries, contact Kara Murphy of Sunbelt Publications at (619) 258-4911 ext. 114.

Sunshine Noir II


Mugshot of John Wilkens
By John Wilkens | midnight Dec. 6, 2015 | Updated, 8:04 a.m.

When National Geographic Traveler recently named its 20 “go-now destinations” for 2016, the list included the San Diego/Tijuana region. Under “What to Read Before You Go,” it mentioned one book: “Sunshine/Noir II: Writing From San Diego and Tijuana.”

Published in October, the anthology features the work of more than 50 writers, photographers and artists, edited by Kelly Mayhew and Jim Miller, a married couple who teach English at City College. They are co-authors of several books and helped found the nonprofit San Diego City Works Press, which published “Sunshine/Noir II” and is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year.

In addition to teaching four classes, Mayhew helps to run the Labor Studies and Honors programs at City College. She joked that she’ll sleep again Dec. 18, when the current semester ends.

Q: There’s a line on the back cover of the book that says, “Enter at your own risk.” What are we risking by reading the book?

A: One of the things that we strive to do in all of our work is complicate the picture of San Diego that people have. We’re such a tourist destination that I think a lot of times people have kind of a postcard view of us as just the beach and SeaWorld and the zoo and Balboa Park. We want to complicate that and bring to the fore all the richness and sometimes the darkness that a real city has.

Q: What do we learn about San Diego that maybe we didn’t already know or understand?

A: We learn a lot about what it’s like to live on both sides of the border. What is the nature of a border city? Who are the people who have come over and go back and forth? What are their lives like?

One of my favorite pieces is by Mychal Odom, and he writes about the black power movement in San Diego in the 1960s. Those movements are often the focus of places like Los Angeles or New York or Oakland or San Francisco – we had the same sorts of things going on here.

We learn about what it’s like to live in City Heights. Anna Daniels has a wonderful piece about her neighborhood, which is composed of immigrants and poor people and people from all walks of life.

We’ve been accused of only focusing on the dark, but I don’t think we do. If you look at Steve Kowit’s poems, they are just pure joy when you read them.

Q: Many people think of “noir” as a particular kind of mystery or crime novel. There is some fiction here, but a lot of the pieces aren’t. What’s your idea of noir?

A: We do have a couple of out-and-out noir pieces at the end. The last section is called “Through a Lens Darkly,” and Jim Miller writes in a literay essay there about not just noir fiction, but a noir sensibility. You are looking at the underside of life that runs beneath and below the happy, sunny exterior.

He talks in the essay about San Diego as a place that is ripe for noir, and San Diego as a place that has had some noir written about it, although it’s not celebrated in ways that other places have had it celebrated.

Q: How did you decide what to include and how to organize it?

A: We locked ourselves in our house for a week figuring that one out. (She laughed.) The book has four sections, and we had themes that we wanted to hit. We figured out which pieces fit into which themes and tried to also have a diversity of voices.

There are people like Steve Kowit and Marilyn Chin, who are celebrated and very established writers, and there are pieces from City College students, people who are just emerging. We tried to have a mix of journalistic and expository pieces, poetry, creative nonfiction. And in the interplay of that, we liked the surprising juxtapositions we came up with. Most anthologies will be fiction and poetry, or they’ll be just non-fiction, and we wanted to have a whole bunch of genres represented.

Q: Why was it important to you to have a diversity of voices? What do you think that says about San Diego?

A: We’re an incredibly diverse city. Jim and I both teach at City College, where there is no one majority population. We were very interested in countering the kind of whitewashing of San Diego that often goes on in the way our city is viewed. We wanted to represent the people who the city is actually made up of, and to give voice to the people who often don’t have voice in the other representations of the city.

Q: You mentioned Steve Kowit, the noted local poet who died earlier this year. What did he mean to the writing community in San Diego?

A: We always called him our de facto poet laureate in San Diego. Both in his writing – how much he did and how published he was and how beloved he was – but also in the number of people whose lives he touched through his teaching.

He was one of our very earliest supporters, telling us we were insane for starting a small literary press in San Diego, but then immediately asking how he could help. His collection of poetry, “The Gods of Rapture,” was the second book we published. He gave us the manuscript, and that was one way he could help support us monetarily. When he died, we were just crushed, and the one thing we thought we could do that would really honor him was to dedicate “Sunshine/Noir II” to him.

Q: Was he aware of the project?

A: Yes. He gave us six or seven poems we used in the book. We’d talked to him about the project. The last time we saw him, he came over to our house, and we told him what we were going to use. And he got some more of his books and we sat on our couch and talked about semicolons and grammar. Both Jim and I teach writing and literature, so we were having a total nerd fest.

Q: I’m sorry you didn’t tape it so we could all watch it on YouTube.

A: I am, too. We had no idea that would be the last time we would be seeing Steve.

Mayhew Poet Kowit helped with literary press

Sunshine Noir II“Sunshine/Noir II: Writing From San Diego and Tijuana”
Edited by Kelly Mayhew and Jim Miller
San Diego City Works Press; 376 pages; $15.95

© Copyright 2015 The San Diego Union-Tribune. All rights reserved.

National Geographic Traveler story about San Diego/Tijuana region

Blood of the Band: An Ipai Family Story

The Ipai and the Jews

Blood of the Band: An Ipai Family Story by David L. Toler, Jr.; Sunbelt Publications, © 2015; ISBN 978-1-941384-12-1; 285 pages, including index; $19.95.

By Donald H. Harrison

SAN DIEGO – This is a story of the San Pasqual band of Ipai Indians. The Ipai are the western branch of the Kumeyaay Nation, as opposed to the Tipai who occupy farther eastern San Diego County, Imperial County and parts of Baja California. The history is told through the eyes of the Trask family, and the various branches of that family, which have occupied the San Pasqual area of the county since the early 20th century. The author, David L. Toler, Jr., is a descendant of Frank Trask, whose father, Roswell Task, was a white settler, and whose mother was reportedly a San Pasqual Ipai, name now unknown, believed to have died in 1867 during childbirth. Frank married Leonora La Chappa in 1902, and in 1910 was appointed by the federal government as a judge of the San Pasqual Indian Reservation, a position reserved for tribal members.

Readers learn of Kumeyaay creation legends, about what anthropologists say about the lives of the Ipai prior to European contact, and then are taken on a journey through more modern history: The Mission period when many Indians converted to Catholicism under the influence of Franciscan missionaries; the Mexican period when the missions were secularized and Indians scattered; the early American period when treaties were made and broken in favor of land-hungry white settlers; the later American period when reservations were established; the 1920s when Indians were granted full American citizenship; and subsequent periods of flux when Congress at one point desired to terminate reservations, and later decided to reinforce them. San Pasqual, in the political cross currents, was moved from one location to another, off the Ipai’s ancestral lands and onto the lands of neighboring Indians.

Some Ipai declined to live on the reservations, retreating to inaccessible inland areas. Others initially lived on the reservations, and then left to live in the cities of San Diego County. However, they later returned when being counted as a member of the tribe brought with it not poverty but the new possibility of financial rewards, either through compensation if the land were condemned by the federal government, or through profit from gaming and other business enterprises on the reservations.

As a Jewish reader, I found three interesting points of intersection between the history of the San Pasqual band and the history of the Jews.

We all know the Jewish biblical creation story involving Adam and Eve, and a talking snake who persuaded Eve to take a bite from the forbidden fruit from the Tree of Knowledge.

A snake figures in the Ipai creation story as well. As recited by Jose Bastiano LaChappa, and published within Toler’s book:

The people planned a ceremony, and built a large enclosure of brush. Then they sent a messenger to bring the great serpent Umaihuhlya-wit (“sky moon”) from the ocean. He came and coiled himself in the enclosure but he could not get his entire length inside. On the third morning, when he had coiled as much of his body as the enclosure would contain, the people set fire to it and burned him. His body exploded and scattered. Inside his body was all knowledge, comprising songs, magic secrets, ceremonies, languages, and customs. Thus these were scattered over the land and different people acquired different languages and customs.

In our Jewish culture, the snake put one over us humans, though it paid the consequences later. In the Ipai tradition, humans got the better of the snake. But in both instances, mankind was exposed to knowledge.

I winced at the next reference, which drew an analogy between the Israelites conquering the Land of Canaan on the instructions of God, and white Christians appropriating Indian land by what they considered divine right. Toler’s account quoted Native American historian Steve Newcomb of Shawnee/ Lenape background, as opining:

An explanation … is that for the Christian colonizers of the Americas, the Chosen People-Promised Land cognitive model was the basis for drawing an analogy between the lands of North America and the lands of Canaan in the Old Testament. This entails the lands of North America being conceived of as “land free to be taken.”

Finally, I found in the testimony of Julie Holder, a Native American, an analogy to another experience in Jewish history: the Holocaust.

Toler quoted her as saying:

Now the issue has become, “Who is really Indian”? The reservation Indians resent the Urban Indians returning only to take advantage of the current opportunity of abundance. So now you must prove you are an Indian. Genocide is the deconstruction of cultures. The American government has forged this deconstruction onto the American Indian people since 1846. Not only were Indians not citizens until 1924, but our history, births, deaths and responsibility was in the Department of War until the termination act. This left Indian people without historic documented and validated identity; we were the original enemy combatants and have been historically treated as such. Outside of the Jewish people in Nazi Germany, the Indian people are the only race required to prove their degree of Indian blood. How much pure blood one carries can be equated to the genocide of the Jews with Hitler’s need to prove, “how much Jewish blood was carried by each individual Jew.” The product of this demand was Hitler’s excuse and his foundation for genocide.

Personally I found Toler’s analogy distressing. It seems to me the two situations are easily distinguishable. In Hitler’s Germany, anyone with one-quarter Jewish blood, that is a single grandparent, was liable to be categorized as a Jew and sent to a concentration camp. In the case of Indians, as little as one-sixteenth Indian blood enables one to establish oneself as a member of an Indian nation. In the Jewish case, a slight percentage meant imprisonment and death; in the native American case, a slight percentage could lead, depending on the rules of the tribe, to economic benefits.

Harrison is editor of San Diego Jewish World. He may be contacted via

Blood of the Band

Ricardo Breceda

Ricardo Breceda, Anza-Borrego’s most famous sculptor has moved his studio and found new homes for his whimsical metal sculptures. His work is iconic work is featured throughout Anza-Borrego State Park and surrounding areas, and now can be found in local cities from San Diego to Joshua Tree, California. Click here to read about his new locations! Breceda’s Art Finds New Home


Books A Boon for Cyclists: Two Books by Author Nelson Copp Target Bicyclists in San Diego County

The fourth edition of Copp’s “Cycling San Diego” has been printed by Sunbelt Publications of El Cajon. The book’s cover shows two bicyclists pedaling past the landmark Hotel del Coronado.

Source: San Diego Uptown News, October 9, 2015

Nelson Copp has released two new books on cycling in San Diego County. (Photo by SDCNN)
Sunbelt Publications of El Cajon has printed two books dedicated to bicyclists in San Diego County. (Photo by Ken Williams)

The 326-page book (retail value of $21.95) is chockfull of cycling routes from Camp Pendleton to Coronado to Julian to Borrego Springs. Dozens of helpful maps provide a clear guide to getting around a chosen area.

Copp is the author of “Cycling the Trails of San Diego: A Mountain Biker’s Guide to the County.” The 270-page book is also published by Sunbelt.

For the past three decades, Copp has been keeping San Diegans informed about the ever-changing landscape for cycling routes and updating his books. He is a lifelong cyclist, on-road and off-road, and is hailed as a master of applying state-of-the-art cartography and software applications to field guides.

“Cycling San Diego” details 67 rides, each providing directions to the trails, a list of amenities, and route options. Detailed maps and color photographs illustrate the book vividly. He also shares stories about the history of the area and points to landmarks to check out.

Both books can be purchased online at major retailers or at bookstores throughout San Diego.