From our blogs

Volunteer at our Nature Stores and help us save Tideline magazine

by Ceal Craig

The San Francisco Bay Wildlife Society Nature Stores opened in June at both the Environmental Education Center and the Fremont Visitor Center intermittently.

In order to keep the Nature Stores open on a regular basis, we need volunteers to supplement San Francisco Bay Wildlife Society staff to operate the Nature Stores at either location on weekends or during the week.

You can help your refuge by volunteering to staff a pop-up Nature Store for special events and at the help desks at both locations.

California Condors Achieve a Happy New Milestone

by Emily Silber, National Audubon Society

Female California Condor with her newly hatched chick. Photo courtesy Joseph Brandt / U.S. FWS

Female California Condor with her newly hatched chick. Photo courtesy Joseph Brandt / U.S. FWS.

After more than 35 years of flirting with extinction, the California Condor is finally due for a success story. This week the California Condor Recovery Program announced that 2015 was the first year in decades in which the number of chicks hatched and raised in the wild outweighed the number of wild condor deaths—14 births to 12 deaths: a sign that these pink-faced beauties are on a steady track to recovery.

Condors may be the largest birds in North America, but they were, and still are, scarce. The bird was among the first animals to be protected by the Endangered Species Act in the 1970s—thanks to pressure from Audubon members. But habitat loss, hunting, DDT contamination, and, above all, lead poisoning continued to plague the condor, and ultimately, the species was reduced to a mere 23 individuals by the 1980s.

That’s when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and their partners decided they had to step in.

How Restoring Wetlands Will Prepare Us for Sea Level Rise

by Robin Meadows, Bay Area Monitor

Last October, an excavator breached an old levee at Sears Point to initiate restoration of farmland back to tidal marsh. Photo courtesy Sonoma Land Trust/Corby Hines.

Last October, an excavator breached an old levee at Sears Point to initiate restoration of farmland back to tidal marsh. Photo courtesy Sonoma Land Trust/Corby Hines.

After California’s worst drought in 500 years, we’re finally enjoying a rainy winter thanks to one of the strongest El Niños on record. Droughts interspersed with drenchings are nothing new for us — these extremes are part of our normal weather cycle — and periodic wet years are nothing we can’t handle. But that’s about to change. In coming decades, sea level rise will amplify the storm surges and ultra-high “king” tides that send waves crashing over levees.

Making matters worse, sea level rise will also weaken the Bay Area’s resilience to floods. Tidal marshes edging the bay take the oomph out of waves and soak up water like sponges. However, according to a 2015 State Coastal Conservancy-led report, we stand to lose most of this natural flood protection to rising seas. The cost of an extreme storm to the Bay Area is estimated at $10 billion.

Volunteer Opportunities: Spring 2016

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge Volunteer Opportunities: Spring 2016 at the Environmental Education Center (Alviso, California).

If you have an interest in wildlife and their conservation, enjoy working with people, and are enthusiastic and dependable, the Environmental Education Center’s Volunteer Program is for you! As a volunteer, you’ll receive on-the- job training from staff and other volunteers in the project area you choose. Project areas are: restoration projects, information desk on weekends, interpretive programs, school field trips, and citizen science/community service.

Prior to volunteering at the Environmental Education Center, you must attend a Volunteer Orientation. You can also attend the orientation just to see what opportunities there are, and if it is the right fit for you.

Migratory Bird Treaty Celebrates 100 Years 1916-2016

This year we mark the centennial of the Convention between the United States and Great Britain (for Canada) for the Protection of Migratory Birds - also called the Migratory Bird Treaty - that was signed on Aug. 16, 1916. This  Migratory Bird Treaty (446.6KB), and three others that followed, form the cornerstones of our efforts to conserve birds that migrate across international borders.

The treaty connects the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service with our federal, state, private, non-government, tribal, and international partners who share a long, successful history of conserving, protecting, and managing migratory bird populations and their habitats. Celebrating the centennial of the first treaty allows us to bring together those who have contributed to its success, and to galvanize efforts to protect migratory birds for generations to come.

Levee Breach Celebrates Wetland Restoration on San Francisco Bay

by Doug Cordell, Public Affairs Officer, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

As the morning skies cleared of threatening clouds at a December 10, 2015 ceremony in Redwood City, CA, a hundredplus guests cheered a levee breach that reintroduced tidal water to inner Bair Island on the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge for the first time since the area was diked off for agriculture in the 1880s.

A levee breach at the Dec. 10 event caps a multi-year restoration that will return the diked-off site to tidal wetlands. Photo courtesy U.S. FWS / Julie Kitzenberger.

A levee breach at the Dec. 10 event caps a multi-year restoration that will return the diked-off site to tidal wetlands. Photo courtesy U.S. FWS / Julie Kitzenberger.

The breach culminates a $7.5 million restoration project overseen by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service that will enable the 1500-acre site, the largest undeveloped island in South San Francisco Bay, to grow back into to the marshland it was 150 years ago.

Christmas Bird Count for Kids • January 17, 2016

Introduce your child to bird watching and learn how the Christmas Bird Count contributes to conservation at Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge and Coyote Hills Regional Park on January 17, 2016 from 8:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Go with an experienced birdwatcher and count all the birds you see. We will reconvene at the Don Edwards Refuge to tabulate our data and report our findings.

Recommended for ages 8-16. Minors must be accompanied by an adult. Driving to specific birding sites may be necessary. Bring binoculars if you have them, water, and a bag lunch.

Register at http://xmasbirdcount4kids.eventbrite.com.

Meet at the Visitor Center in Fremont at 2 Marshlands Rd, Fremont, CA

Goodbye to Sue TenEyck, Welcome Mary Deschene!

Effective in 2016, we are saying goodbye to a long-term Board of Directors member and San Francisco Bay Wildlife Society Program Administrator, Sue TenEyck.

After serving the organization for more than two decades, she is beginning a well-deserved, full-time retirement.

The Board of Directors, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and volunteers all join in thanking Sue for her dedication and service to the San Francisco Bay Wildlife Society and the Refuge Complex. Best wishes, Sue!

Congress passes bill to ban microbeads that pollute aquatic habitats

by Ceal Craig

Microbeads set against a penny for comparison of size. Photo courtesy 5 Gyres

Microbeads set against a penny for comparison of size. Photo courtesy 5 Gyres.

Yesterday, the Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015 passed both Congress and the Senate by unanimous consent, and was presented to the President for his signature.

Microbeads are tiny plastic beads that are added to consumer products such as body and face scrubs to enhance exfoliation and to produce a “feel good factor”. Microbeads wash down the drain, escape sewage treatment and enter our watersheds, lakes and oceans where they are eaten by marine life. A 2013 study found that plastic in the diet of marine life could negatively impact their health.

These destructive small particles first came to my attention at a reception for our Litterati.org exhibit earlier this spring held at the Environmental Education Center, Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge. I had no idea of their potential for destruction or impact until then.

Work to save San Francisco Bay only just begun

La Riviere Marsh at the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Photo courtesy Oleg Alexandrov via Wikipedia.

La Riviere Marsh at the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Photo courtesy Oleg Alexandrov via Wikipedia.

According to the San Francisco Estuary Institute, the San Francisco Bay baylands have been disappearing since the 1800s. In 1999, the Bay Area community set out to ensure that the bay had 100,000 acres of tidal marsh. This year the bay has 58,000 acres, some of them newly restored and evolving into marshlands.

An editorial in the San Francisco Chronicle urges Bay Area residents to "help spread the vision of a restored bay and persuade officials in the 101 Bay Area governments to share in it."

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