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Working to Reduce the Negative Impacts of Environmental Change

PRBO Highlights

PRBO Staff

New contributions and achievements are abundant at PRBO, as reported on our website ( and Facebook page. Here is a sampling of highlights from the past several months.

California deserts: balancing bird conservation with solar siting. Photo by Jenny Erbes (PRBO).

Where to Site Renewable Energy. Where to Site Renewable Energy. As part of PRBO’s role in California’s Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP/, we completed a report that identifies the best areas for siting solar energy installations in the California desert (found online here) from a bird conservation point of view. DRECP is also investigating the use of weather and other radar to evaluate potential locations of wind turbines in Southern California and avoid impacts on bird and bat populations. The agency invited Geoff Geupel and Ryan DiGaudio to present at a recent webinar on PRBO’s collaborative work.

International Partnership. Geoff Geupel represented the U.S. Partners in Flight at an international bird conservation symposium held in Israel’s Hula Valley in November. It focused on conserving the Great Rift Valley, from Africa to Europe and Asia. Geoff gave a presentation on “Flyway Conservation through Science, Policy, Education and Tourism.”

Connecting Science with Conservation. PRBO staff translate conservation science into planning and action in many ways, including these recent examples. •Ellie Cohen and Grant Ballard, PhD, were invited contributors for technical input to the National Climate Assessment Coastal Update mandated by Congress and due out next year. •The California Rangelands Conservation Coalition invited Wendell Gilgert and Geoff Geupel to join the steering committee. •Ryan Burnett is working closely with the Lassen National Forest on approaches to forest thinning in burned areas that can reduce fuels, produce timber products, and benefit dependent bird species. •Chris McCreedy completed a seven-year report on the birds of desert washes in California and Arizona, useful to federal agencies prioritizing Sonora Desert management strategies. •Nat Seavy, PhD was invited by the Resources Legacy Fund Foundation to participate with representatives of other organizations in a review of the Central Valley Flood Protection Plan, to help ensure ecological benefits.

Page One News. Many print and broadcast media have recently featured PRBO’s work. •Information from our Farallon Island Program with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was cited in stories about the need to remove non-native mice from this fragile ecosystem ( •Increases in songbirds’ size and the rise in average temperatures, revealed in long-term data from our Palomarin Field Station (described in this issue), made many headlines. •Our study showing the future impacts of sea level rise on tidal marshes in San Francisco Bay appeared on page one of the San Francisco Chronicle. See for links to media.

Clapper Rail, dependent upon tidal marsh habitat in San Francisco Bay and vulnerable to the effects of sea level rise. PRBO monitors indicator species to detect and help mitigate impacts of environmental change—climate change, changes in land-use, over-fishing, pollution, and other human-driven pressures on nature. Photo by Tom Grey /

Prestigious Science Advisors. PRBO’s new Science Advisory Committee (SAC) is engaging prominent scientists who will strengthen our research to address climate change and other human-driven pressures on nature and our communities. Welcome SAC members: PRBO Board members John Eadie, PhD (Chair); David Ackerly, PhD; Jim Quinn, PhD; and Terry Root, PhD. Adding their expertise to the SAC are Larry Crowder, PhD, Stanford; Mary Gleason, PhD, The Nature Conservancy; Sam Luoma, PhD, Emeritus, USGS and UC Davis; Adina Merenlender, PhD, UC Berkeley; Peter Moyle, PhD, UC Davis; Mary Power, PhD, UC Berkeley; Hugh Safford, PhD, US Forest Service; and Rebecca Shaw, PhD, Environmental Defense Fund. We are deeply grateful to former SAC members including Mark Reynolds, PhD, Dr. Tom Smith, PhD, Peter Stine, PhD, and Burr Heneman.

Environmental Hero. Ellie M. Cohen received the 2012 Bay Nature Local Hero Award for Conservation Action at a reception in Berkeley on February 9th. Individuals are recognized for “significant contributions to the conservation of the natural landscapes, wildlife, and/or flora of the San Francisco Bay Area, through advocacy, legal action, acquisition, and/or stewardship.” According to Bay Nature Publisher David Loeb, Ellie’s contributions are “beyond significant, particularly in the realm of climate change mitigation and adaptation.” As Ellie remarked, “This award truly belongs to PRBO’s exceptional staff, Board of Directors, supporters and many partners! It is a team effort!” Congratulations Ellie!

At a student-led tour of Pickleweed Park, children taught visitors about habitats (left) and walked the trail with PRBO’s Missy Wipf. Photos by Annie Schmidt (PRBO).

Education and Restoration. PRBO’s Students and Teachers Restoring a Watershed (STRAW) has already completed 28 restorations during this school year, at San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge, on North Bay urban/suburban streams, and on Marin County ranch lands. In classrooms, STRAW has brought lessons on ecology, climate change, and conservation to some 3,000 students at 24 different schools. •PRBO educators work with elementary schools in San Rafael’s Canal Community, where, in December, some 200 students led tours of Pickleweed Park, sharing their knowledge of wetland habitats and birds along with actions people can take to protect them.