March 15th, 2016
San Diego Bay NWR:
Last week Environment for the Americas staff and volunteers trained 14 Latino interns participating in the 2016 Celebrate Shorebirds Internship Program, at the SDNWRC Headquarters. During the training interns learn about shorebird ID, shorebird monitoring, environmental education, Latino issues, diversity, social media, and much more. Two Pacific Flyway Ambassador interns, Christian McWilliams and Jean Ramos, will be following spring migration as it progresses along the flyway from San Diego to Alaska. The interns will participate in the San Diego Bird Festival while they are here via tours on the San Diego Bay, Tijuana Slough, and San Diego National Wildlife Refuges. On Saturday March 5, they helped Refuge staff and the Living Coast Discovery Center with a volunteer event at Tijuana Slough NWR to plant native plants at a restoration site.
The 14 Celebrate Shorebirds Interns will be working in Alaska, Oregon, California, D.C., and Colorado (Regions 1, 8, 7, and 9). You can live vicariously through these young motivated biologists by following their Facebook page and weekly posts on their blog, www.birdtrippers.com.
Last Thursday was a very busy day at Sweetwater Marsh with well over 150 students visiting the refuge and the Living Coast Discovery Center. Fifty of those students were from Murdock Elementary School in La Mesa Spring Valley School District whose visit to the refuge was made possible by the San Diego Foundation Opening the Outdoors grant awarded to the Earth Discovery Institute for the 2015-16 school year. Students had several fun nature activities including the creation of seedballs with California poppy seeds to take home, a nature walk, “Fred the Fish” watershed lesson, and watercolor art. The students hung up their watercolor pieces up on the trail to dry, which welcomed several compliments from other visitors walking by. They asked the students questions about their art, which they happily answered using their newfound nature knowledge from the day. Each student received the Cornell Lab of Ornithology Bird Sleuth Explorer’s Guidebook to use that day and on future outdoor adventures. It was another busy and beautiful day on Sweetwater Marsh.
San Diego NWR:
Last Friday, the refuge hosted a birding tour for the 2016 San Diego Bird Festival, which the Flyway Ambassador Interns attended during their stay. It was a beautiful day for birding, as the two dozen attendees on the tour identified over 100 species of birds.
Some great news this week on land acquisition: two parcels were added to the San Diego NWR late last week. These no-cost conveyances were two key inholdings – the 43-acre Neuner tract and the 43-acre Desko Griffith tract – and bring the total acreage within the refuge to just over 11,700 acres. Adjacent to one another, these parcels on the southeastern flank of Mt. San Miguel above Proctor Valley Road were valued at a total of $1,707,320. The transactions originated from a Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office biological opinion for the Pio Pico Energy Center on Otay Mesa. Conservation measures for the Quino checkerspot butterfly allowed for the acquisition of lands within the refuge to offset project impacts, and these parcels had been identified as key targets for butterfly conservation. The energy project principal was very pleased with the coordination among Service participants that allowed them to meet their project obligations. Thanks for a great team effort by Carlsbad FWO, Region 8 Realty, and San Diego NWR Complex staff.