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Securing PRBO's Future

Conservation Science for a Lasting Legacy

Ellie M. Cohen

Artist's rendition of PRBO's new San Francisco Bay Research Center and Headquarters, to be built adjacent to Shollenberger Park in Petaluma, California.

Thanks to so many of you for your insights, enthusiasm, and creative assistance over the past two years as we have searched in earnest for PRBO's new facilities.

I am delighted to announce that our Board of Directors recently authorized the launching of PRBO's Conservation Science for a Lasting Legacy campaign and the purchase of our new San Francisco Bay Research Center and Headquarters at the northernmost reaches of the bay (adjacent to the Petaluma Marsh, one of the largest intact tidal marshes on the West Coast).

In addition to the urgent and compelling conservation science needs on San Francisco Bay that have driven our decision-making process, PRBO's West Marin headquarters lease, provided by our partners at Audubon Canyon Ranch since 1974, expires in June 2006. Our current headquarters off Bolinas Lagoon, while quite beloved, have become too small and technologically insufficient to meet our increasingly sophisticated requirements.

PRBO's new Center will be a 14,300 square foot, two-story office condominium located at the southeast corner of Petaluma's urban growth boundary, in an office park surrounded on three sides by protected open space. Our new office plans call for a footbridge to directly link our main entrance area to Shollenberger Park, a popular haven for birders and nature enthusiasts on the Petaluma River. The offices will also sit directly next to a 261-acre parcel of protected wetlands and uplands, recently acquired by the City of Petaluma, where officials plan to build new trails and an outdoor wetlands classroom.
Looking north over Schollenberger Park, the site of PRBO's new Center is indicated with a star.

PRBO's Center will accommodate 50 biologists, conservation science interns, and visiting scientists. It will include a wildlife viewing deck, wetlab, library, and presentation room, as well as educational displays and opportunities to join PRBO's membership. This location provides us with the ability to accommodate more growth in the years ahead or to sublet space as needed, and offers staff a reasonable commute distance to more affordable housing. By buying into a soon-to-be-built commercial office where existing zoning already allows for PRBO's varied uses, we are reducing our environmental impact substantially, especially when compared to building a new facility or expanding the footprint of an existing structure in open space. In addition, we have an option through next winter to buy an additional 5,000 square feet at the same price if the funds should become available.

PRBO plans to continue its long-term presence in western Marin County in partnership with Point Reyes National Seashore at our Palomarin Field Station and Visitor Center, as well as at our offices at the Learning Center in Olema Valley and our Dogtown Intern Housing Facility (the latter two made possible by the generosity of the DMARLOU Foundation).

PRBO's Lasting Legacy campaign will provide:

Our capital campaign fundraising goal (pending final review by the Board of Directors) is $7 million, including $4 million to purchase, equip, and move into the new Center; $500,000 to improve existing research stations and initiate new field station partnerships; and $2.5 million to establish a significant endowment fund that will generate annual support for operations and programs.

As of this writing in late July, I am thrilled to report that we have almost $1 million already pledged towards our goal! Included in this total is $400,000 from the DMARLOU Foundation (Stanley Diamond, Richard Rahl, and Felipe Santiago) and $100,000 from an anonymous donor who has named the new building's Public Outreach Gallery in honor of PRBO Naturalist Rich Stallcup. We are also very grateful to current and past board members, as well as other friends of PRBO, who have made advance pledges to initiate the campaign! All donors to the campaign will be recognized in future Observers.

As you will read in this inspirational Observer issue, PRBO's staff and interns have a wide range of field experiences that are the bedrock of our conservation success. After 39 years, it is time for us to permanently secure our future so that PRBO's award-winning science can continue for generations to come.

Thanks to you, our first four decades have been enormously successful. With your support, we will create a lasting legacy for PRBO's next four decades and beyond!

We welcome your offers of assistance in any form! Please contact me at 415-868-1221, ext. 318 ( or Sarah Huard at ext. 324 (shuard@