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.


Featured Award

Catherine Hickey, Conservation Director of our Pacific Coast and Central Valley Group, is the 2016 recipient of the Gary T. Myers Bird Conservation Award.

With this award, the U.S. North American Bird Conservation Initiative (NABCI) Committee and the Association of Joint Venture Management Board (AJVMB) recognize individuals or groups who have shown exceptional accomplishments and/or leadership in bird conservation in furtherance of the principles of the North American Bird Conservation Initiative and the national/international bird initiatives (North American Waterfowl Management Plan, Partners in Flight, Waterbird Conservation for the Americas, National Shorebird Plans, and the resident game bird plans).

For the past 20 years Catherine has worked tirelessly and passionately with others to conserve shorebirds and their wetland habitats and plans to continue that work far into the future. She represents one of our organization-wide efforts to incorporate climate-smart principles into conservation planning efforts on an international scale to maintain thriving populations of climate change-resilient wetland communities for generations to come.


Awards & Recognition, A Sampling

• 2017 Point Blue was accepted as an NGO observer organization of the United Nation’s Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
• 2017 Point Blue’s Automated Surface Water Tracking System received special mention in the Ecosystem Health Category as part of the State of California and White House’s California Water Data Challenge (http://waterchallenge.data.ca.gov/Docs/WaterChallenge_Summary).
• 2017 Ellie Cohen was selected to represent Point Blue on the Resilient By Design Science Advisory Committee (SF Bay region).2016 Laurette Rogers received the Ted Wellman Water Award for embodying high standards for protecting and preserving water resources in Marin and California.2015 The Wildlife Society (TWS) presented Point Blue with their Group Achievment Award, in recognition of our outstranding work on behalf of wildlife over the past three years and beyond.
• 2015 Point Blue Conservation Director Catherine Hickey received the California Rice Commission’s Circle of Life Award in June 2015. It recognizes her leadership in helping find innovative ways to manage rice for waterbirds and other benefits, while enabling rice growers to participate in wildlife-friendly practice.
• 2014 Central Valley Joint Venture (CVJV) Science Excellence Award to Dave Shuford, Point Blue Senior Scientist for his foundational work to the CVJV, from the late 1980’s until the present.
• 2014 Outstanding Environmental Education Program presented by the Sonoma County Conservation Council and the Sierra Club Sonoma Group to the STRAW Program
• 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 Charles McGlashan Environmental Leader of Marin Environmental Educator Award to Laurette Rogers, Point Blue’s STRAW Program Director, for her founding of STRAW “”Students and Teachers Restoring a Watershed”” and her belief in the power of youth to transform their environment.
• 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


Celebrating 50 Years of Point Blue Accomplishments - 1965-1981

• 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.
• 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)


Accomplishments 1982-1998

• 1982 – 1990 PRBO data contributes to the establishment of three National Marine Sanctuaries and an International Biosphere Reserve in Central California.

• 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 proved 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 rainfall to songbird productivity based on a decade of mist-netting data from the Palomarin Field Station. This study was instrumental in showing the importance of long-term demographic monitoring and helped launch a continental monitoring program that uses constant effort mist-netting to measure productivity and survival for landbirds.
• 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
• 1991 PRBO was contracted to assess the impact of a major toxic chemical spill in the Sacramento River (“Cantara Loop Spill’) to populations of landbirds. The novel approach of using mist-nest and nest searching to assess the impact to demography contributed to a $14 million settlement by the Southern Pacific Railroad and expanded PRBO’s long-term songbird monitoring to the Central Valley.
• 1992 PRBO helps found California Partners in Flight, a coalition of agencies, nonprofits, and individuals working to keep common birds common.
• 1993
⁃ Our 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. Two years later a Spanish-language version was published.
⁃ Published standardized protocols for finding and monitoring nests of songbirds based on methods and protocols developed at the Palomarin Field Station.
• 1993 – 1996 Twenty years of PRBO data result in the federal protection and listing of the Western Snowy Plover under the Endangered Species Act.
• 1994
⁃ 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.
• 1998
⁃ PRBO helps develop and write the U.S. Shorebird Conservation Plan and becomes the principal author of the Pacific Southwest Shorebird Conservation Plan.
⁃ 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.
• 1998-2005 We contributed to efforts to recover the endangered San Clemente Island subspecies of Loggerhead Shrike through careful monitoring of wild and reintroduced shrikes. Only 13 wild individuals remained of the San Clemente Loggerhead Shrike in 1998. PRBO joined a recovery team that included 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 was over 60 birds.


Accomplishments 1999-2015

• 1999
⁃ 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.
• 2000
⁃ 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, north 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.
• 2002
⁃ 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.
• 2003
⁃ 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.
• 2008
⁃ 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.
• 2009
⁃ 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.
⁃ Contributed data and expertise to establish a ban on krill fishing off the West Coast.
• 2010
⁃ 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.
⁃ Contributed data to the establishment of Marine Protected Area regulations around the Farallones in 2010, as part of the California Marine Life Protection Act.
• 2011
⁃ 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 rangelands by placing Partner Biologists throughout the Central Valley, Sierra and Coastal California.
⁃ 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.
• 2013
⁃ 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.
• 2014
⁃ 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.
⁃ Launched the Rangeland Monitoring Network to collect standardized data on soil health and ecosystem services that will inspire climate-smart management and improve ecological function of rangelands for people and wildlife.
• 2015
⁃ STRAW program completed its 500th restoration.

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