Los Farallones

Dispatches from Point Blue’s field station on the Farallon Islands National Wildlife Refuge

The Hidden Life of the Farallon Facilities

Point Blue Conservation Science employees and assistants, in cooperation with US Fish and Wildlife Service, have been collecting biological data on the Farallon Islands National Wildlife Refuge continuously for over 52 years! What people rarely hear about is the work done behind the scenes, the upkeep of these remote island facilities. It is a constant battle to maintain infrastructure in a rough marine environment, and keeping up with these numerous challenges is thanks to the tireless efforts of island staff, US Fish and Wildlife Service personnel, contractors, and equipment transportation provided over the years by the Coast Guard, the Air National Guard, the Army National Guard, and the Farallon Patrol. In this lull between study seasons on the island, we have a perfect opportunity to try to get ahead of the facilities maintenance tasks.

Out with the Old! Broken PV generators Buffy and Peevy packed up and ready to be shipped off the island

Unfortunately this year, in the midst of a pandemic, we encountered issues with nearly every bit of infrastructure on the island! Our water collection system is showing its years and plumbing is starting to leak, the septic system needs maintenance, both of our backup power generators developed problems and were retired, our telecommunications are having issues, and the PRBO house roof sprung a leak! But it’s not as dire as it sounds, thanks to USFWS personnel and the numerous contractors that have worked so hard to safely travel to the island and tackle these challenges. They’re not all in the rearview yet, but this week we are celebrating a momentous occasion: the removal of our two old generators, Peevey and Buffy, and the delivery of the new backup generator for our photovoltaic system.

And in with the new! Our shiny new modern PV generator.

The delivery was provided by the California Army National Guard with an enormous Chinook helicopter, and coordination was thanks to USFWS staff. We would also like to acknowledge the use of the Moffett Federal Airfield, used for staging and loading the equipment for delivery. You have all helped to make our island holidays a little bit brighter! Thank you!