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Needed: new facilities and a greater role for PRBO's science

New San Francisco Bay Research Center for PRBO?

Ellie M. Cohen

As I have shared with many of you, PRBO's current lease for our headquarters off Bolinas Lagoon in West Marin County expires June 30, 2006. Our long-term partners and landlords at Audubon Canyon Ranch, to whom we are immeasurably grateful, have indicated an interest in taking over the site at that time.

While we plan to continue our cooperative agreements with Point Reyes National Seashore for the Palomarin Field Station and Visitor Center, the DMARLOU Center (currently hosting the Wetlands Ecology Division), as well as other PRBO facilities in West Marin, this provides an exciting opportunity to evaluate our facilities needs in terms of our organizational goals and strengths.

Consequently, we are exploring the possibility of establishing a permanent, multi-partner research center on San Francisco Bay, modeled after our very successful Farallones and Palomarin Field Stations.

Conservation of the San Francisco Bay Estuary--one of the most important in the Western Hemisphere to shorebirds, waterfowl, and many other bird species --is a top priority for PRBO and many of our partners. Huge expanses of tidal marsh and other bay habitats have been lost to development, landfill, and other human activities over the past 150 years.

Hundreds of millions of dollars are now being spent to restore the Bay, in one of the largest wetland restoration initiatives nationwide. However, restoration science is in its infancy. Current, multi-disciplinary, science-based information is sorely needed to ensure that these investments result in a healthy Bay ecosystem that can sustain diverse and abundant bird and other wildlife populations.

PRBO is making significant contributions already to this need, through our studies of bird ecology in tidal marsh, salt ponds, tidal flats, and other Bay habitats including the open Bay waters. However, we believe we can do more while also solving our facilities needs.A permanent Bay research center, focused on long-term data collection, will allow us to be significantly better positioned to evaluate the status of Bay bird populations, assess the effectiveness of major restoration investments, and guide effective habitat restoration and management for years to come.

We are also continuing to explore the development of multi-partner field stations in other PRBO priority regions, including the Central Valley and Eastern Sierra.If you have property to donate, would consider a significant gift to assist in this effort, or have suggestions about property availability, partnerships, or other approaches in the North Bay and elsewhere, please contact me at or 415-868-1221, ext. 318.