Since 1965, team members from Point Blue have been working diligently to protect and enhance nature with strong science and partnerships. The following is a sampling of some awards and accomplishments.
Awards, a sampling
The following awards signify Point Blue’s commitment to conservation and partnership!
- 2014 Partner of the Year Award from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
- 2014 Wings Across the Americas for fostering international cooperation through the Migratory Shorebird Project
- 2013 Exceptional Environmental Educator Award from the Environmental Education Council of Marin to Laurette Rogers, Director, STRAW Program
- 2013 Special Achievement award from the US Fish and Wildlife Service to all Point Blue Farallon Biologists
- 2012 Bay Nature Local Hero Award for Conservation Advocacy to Ellie Cohen
- 2010 Recipient of the Western Section of the Wildlife Society’s Conservationist of the Year award
- 2010 Partners In Flight “Leadership Award” for ‘Outstanding Contributions to Bird Conservation’ from the US Fish and Wildlife Service to Geoff Geupel
- 2010 NRCS For Outstanding Partnership Award (Wetland Reserve Program 100,000-Acre Celebration) 2006 Senator Barbara Boxer Conservation Champion Award
- 2010 Standout Conservation Hero Award from the International Wildlife Film Festival for the STRAW Program
- 2009 Coastal America Partnership award for the Purisima Point Least Tern Management Team
- 2008 US Fish and Wildlife Service Environmental Leadership Award to the Farallon National Wildlife Refuge for Environmental Management Systems
- 2007 Elizabeth Terwilliger Environmental Award – STRAW Program
- 2006 San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of the Association of Environmental Professionals Certificate of Appreciation
- 2002 Partners In Flight “Leadership Award” from the US Fish and Wildlife Service to PRBO ,
- 2002 National “Outstanding Conservation Partner Award” from the USDA Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management.
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Celebrating 50 Years of Point Blue Accomplishments - 1965-2015
1965 Point Reyes Bird Observatory was incorporated as a non-profit, tax-exempt, scientific research facility.
1966 PRBO’s Palomarin Field Station initiates the longest continuous population study of songbirds in the Western U.S.
1968 PRBO, in cooperation with the USFWS, establishes a permanent research station on the Farallon Islands, home today to over 300,000 breeding seabirds, 5 species of seals and sea lions and helped restore populations of common murres and Northern Fur Seals. This began the first and now the longest running long-term multispecies study of seabirds and marine mammals in North America.
1969 our data on key shorebird feeding areas in the Limantour estero resulted in the National Park Service amending their master plan to ensure that Limantour would remain a natural area.
1971 PRBO initiates the Beached Bird Project as a result of the Chevron oil spill in the San Francisco Bay. This project provides the first information on beached birds in the Pacific.
1972 The first Elephant Seal pup is born on the Farallon Islands in 150 years! This marks the beginning of PRBO’s Farallon study of Northern Elephant Seal breeding biology.
1977 PRBO puts the first nest boxes on the Farallon Islands, pioneering restoration methods for cavity-nesting seabirds.
1979 PRBO begins a long-term study of coastal scrub community ecology at Palomarin using marked birds to compile life histories as well as information about bird-habitat relationships.
1982 – 1990 PRBO data contributes to the establishment of three National Marine Sanctuaries and an International Biosphere Reserve in Central California.
- January 16, 1981 – President Jimmy Carter approves the designation of the Point-Reyes Farallon Islands National Marine Sanctuary (NOAA changed name to Gulf of the Farallones NMS in 1997)
- May 24, 1989 -- NOAA designates the Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary off the coast of California.
- September 18, 1992 -- NOAA designates the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary off the coast of California.
- Golden Gate Biosphere Reserve, CA 13 units (1988 and 1991: FWS, NPS, NOAA, state, local, private); adopted by the California Senate and California Assembly in 1989, dedicating approximately 1,000,000 acres of San Francisco, Marin and San Mateo Counties, along with 30 square miles of Pacific coastal marine resources as the Central California Coast Biosphere Reserve.
1983 PRBO begins studying the California Gull colony on Mono Lake (east of Yosemite), generating data that prove crucial in the 1994 decision by the State Water Board to protect the Mono Lake ecosystem.
1985 – 1990 PRBO leads the campaign to end gill-net fishing in Central California resulting in a 1987 ban on gill-netting in the Gulf of the Farallones and in northern Monterey Bay.
1987 PRBO publishes a paper suggesting a link between the Chernobyl nuclear accident and songbird productivity, based on mist-netting data from the Palomarin Field Station.
1988 PRBO begins the Pacific Flyway Project to document the reliance of shorebirds on all major wetland sites in western North America. Research resulted in the designation of San Francisco Bay as a site of “hemispheric importance,” (used by more than 500,000 individuals) in 1989
1992 PRBO helps found California Partners in Flight, a coalition of agencies, nonprofits, and individuals working to keep common birds common.
- Point Blue’s Farallon science is crucial to the passing of a state law to prevent the hunting of White Sharks in California.
- With the US Forest Service, PRBO develops and publishes a handbook containing standardized protocols to monitor songbirds used throughout the continent.
1993 – 1996 Twenty years of PRBO data result in the federal protection and listing of the Western Snowy Plover under the Endangered Species Act.
- PRBO contributes data to support the listing of the Steller’s Sea Lion as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.
- PRBO’s studies of the 1986 Apex Houston oil spill, off the California coast, contributes to a $6.4 million settlement to compensate for its effects on seabirds.
- Following up on our Beached Bird Project, PRBO establishes the Oil Spill Wildlife Response Team to assess damage to birds in the event of an oil spill.
- PRBO develops a computer model for the Gulf of the Farallones that enables wildlife managers to understand how seabird populations will respond to one-time and recurring events (oil spills, weather systems, etc.), both anthropogenic (human caused) and natural.
- PRBO spearheads formation of the California Riparian Habitat Joint Venture, a collaborative effort among federal and state agencies and nonprofit groups. This partnership is dedicated to preserving and restoring streamside habitats vital to resident and migratory songbirds.
1995 The Mount Vision Wildfire burns over 12,000 acres, giving PRBO a unique chance to study songbirds’ response to fire. The ongoing study yields management recommendations for the beneficial uses of controlled burns to enhance wildlife habitats.
1996 The first Northern Fur Seal pup is born on the Farallon Islands after this species was hunted out by fur traders in the early 1800s.
1997-1999 PRBO biologists, in cooperation with the National Park Service, develop a new, less intrusive protocol for monitoring Northern Spotted Owls that minimizes human interaction.
1997 - 2006- Point Blue monitored birds in riparian habitats across the Eastern Sierra Nevada and data from sites containing aspen habitat were included in later projects.
- PRBO helps develop and write the U.S. Shorebird Conservation Plan and becomes the principal author of the Pacific Southwest Shorebird Conservation Plan.
- Only 13 wild individuals remain of the San Clemente Loggerhead Shrike. PRBO joins a recovery team that includes the U.S. Navy, Zoological Society of San Diego, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Institute for Wildlife Studies, with the goal of population recovery. The wild population in the spring of 2001 is over 60 birds.
- PRBO, in partnership with the Point Reyes National Seashore and Audubon Canyon Ranch, initiates a study of Common Ravens. Using radio transmitters and color bands to follow individual birds, biologists assess the effect of raven populations on endangered species, such as the Snowy Plover.
1999-2005 We contributed to efforts to recover the endangered San Clemente Island subspecies of Loggerhead Shrike through careful monitoring of wild and reintroduced shrikes.
- PRBO launches a San Francisco Bay project to study how birds use both natural and man-made habitats in the Bay.
- In an effort to learn more about White Shark movement patterns away from the Farallones, PRBO biologists attach small transmitters that collect data, detach after 4-6 months, and download data to PRBO computers via satellite.
- PRBO Developed and distributed seven multispecies bird Habitat Conservation Plans: Riparian Bird Conservation, oak woodland, coastal scrub, chaparral, coniferous forests, Sagebrush, Desert and grassland habitats, covering all major habitats in California since 1998, with thousands of current users.
- PRBO plays a key role in leading the effort to protect Snowy Plovers.
- PRBO helps to develop catch limits on commercial squid, a critical food base for marine bird and mammal populations, and continues its involvement in gill-net issues. Gill nets are now banned in coastal waters from southern Monterey Bay to Point Conception, south of Santa Barbara.
- PRBO publications by staff biologists total more than 900 in peer reviewed journals, reports, and books.
- We sent scientists to help with the Treasure oil spill in South Africa
2001 Point Blue began a project monitoring birds across meadows on the Almanor Ranger District of Lassen National Forest. In 2009, we expanded our work to the entire Feather River Watershed in Plumas County, including monitoring a number of sites that have been, or are being proposed for restoration by the Feather River Coordinated Resource Management Group. The objectives of this project are to collect information on bird distribution in meadows and their response to different restoration techniques and use this information, along with our local knowledge working with partners, to help guide future meadow restoration actions across the Sierra Nevada.
- We sent scientists to help with the Prestige oil spill in Spain
- Started a partnership with researchers from the US Forest Service and the Universities of California at Davis and Berkeley to launch an ambitious research project to evaluate the success of different forest management strategies in the northern Sierra Nevada forests. Our goal- to understand how to reduce threats of catastrophic fire while promoting forest health and sustaining local economies in the Northern Sierra Nevada.
- Designation of San Francisco Bay Estuary and Sacramento Valley (CA) rice lands as vital habitat for shorebirds through the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network
- Led the development of the 2003 Bird Species of Special Concern priorities guiding the California Department of Fish and Game (first update since 1978)
2004 Began a project monitoring birds across aspen habitat on the Eagle Lake and Almanor Ranger Districts of the Lassen National Forest to evaluate aspen restoration treatments by monitoring the response of a suite of landbird species associated with a broad range of aspen habitat characteristics, and then to use this knowledge to guide adaptive management.
2005 In June our biologists documented the first nesting of the endangered Least Bell’s Vireo at the San Joaquin River National Wildlife Refuge (west of Modesto, California) in 86 years!
2006 Present Co-founder and main host of the Avian Knowledge Network, providing access to long-term bird monitoring data from across the Western Hemisphere.
2007 The Sierra Nevada Forest Plan was amended to adopt a common list of MIS and associated monitoring strategies for all ten forests in the Sierra Nevada. We have designed a plan for monitoring and evaluating the response of four of the twelve Management Indicator Species(MIS) selected by the Forest Service to help guide management of the 10 Sierra Nevada National Forests: Mountain Quail (Oreortyx pictus) was selected as the indicator for early and mid-seral conifer forest, Fox Sparrow (Passerella iliaca) as the indicator for chaparral shrubland, Yellow Warbler (Dendroica petechia) as the indicator for riparian habitat, and Hairy Woodpecker (Picoides villosus) as the indicator for snags in green forest.
- Using long-term monitoring at the Palomarin Field Station as an example, biologists began working with climate scientists to develop a better understanding of how birds and ecosystems respond to climate change.
- CADC (California Avian Data Center) launched by Point Blue; developed by Grant Ballard, Mark Herzog, Michael Fitzgibbon, Doug Moody, Dennis Jongsomjit, and Diana Stralberg.
- Published recommendations for restoring riparian vegetation in the context of a rapidly changing climate. This publication serves as the foundation for our present day work on climate-smart restoration.
- Spearheaded the founding of the Bay Area Ecosystems Climate Change Consortium (BAECCC) comprised of federal, state and local agencies as well as NGO’s to cooperatively manage the San Francisco bay to ocean ecosystems in response to a rapidly changing climate.
- Began using light-level geolocators to track the migration of small migratory songbirds at the Palomarin Field Station. This work continues today, focusing on Golden-crowned Sparrow, Fox Sparrow, Swainson’s Thrush, and Hermit Thrush.
- Began a project monitoring birds across aspen habitat on Inyo National Forest to evaluate aspen restoration treatments by monitoring the response of a suite of landbird species associated with a broad range of aspen habitat characteristics, and then to use this knowledge to guide adaptive management.
- Formed a partnership with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Audubon California, The Nature Conservancy, and the California Rice Commission to help 240 rice growers secure over $10 million in Farm Bill funds to implement bird-friendly practices on over 115,000 acres on California ricelands.
- Published the first ever State of the Birds Report for San Francisco Bay, in partnership with the SF Bay Joint Venture and researchers from around SF Bay.
- Initiated the largest coordinated survey ever of wintering shorebirds on the Pacific Coast of the Americas, the Migratory Shorebird Project; a cooperative effort of 14 conservation science organizations (and counting) in 10 countries from Canada to Peru to conserve shorebirds and wetlands.
- Students and Teachers Restoring a Watershed (STRAW) becomes a program of Point Blue. The STRAW Program coordinates and sustains a network of teachers, students, restoration specialists and other community members to plan and implement watershed studies and restoration projects. Each year approximately 3,500 students participate in 50 restoration work days, often planting 4,500 native plants.
- Identified the most important regions of the Ross Sea for conservation using decades of long-term data collected by dozens of collaborating scientists.
- Completed and published the first climate vulnerability analysis for California birds that is used by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and other management agencies.
- First to demonstrate the importance of using a multi-scenario based approach to prioritize tidal wetland restoration projects that are resilient to sea-level rise impacts.
- Whale Spotter app developed by Point Blue and partners at NOAA to help inform shipping lanes coming out of SF Bay to reduce ship strikes of endangered whales.
- Point Blue contributes data considered in the listing of the Yellow-billed Cuckoo as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.
- Participated in developing the 2014 national Climate-Smart Conservation Guide (National Wildlife Federation) and climate-smart conservation principles
- Since 1965, trained over 1400 interns from 22 countries, with 80% going on to careers in conservation science
- Since 1965, produced more than 2000 peer-reviewed scientific articles, book chapters, and reports contributed to a wide range of scientific disciplines.
- Reduced by half the planned salvage logging of the Yosemite Rim Fire region and prioritized where that logging should happen to best conserve the benefits of fire to birds, other wildlife and ecosystem function.
- STRAW program completed its 500th restoration.
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