After 56 years of continuous presence on the Farallon Islands, Point Blue’s research and monitoring program on the islands is in jeopardy. The islands are managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as the Farallon Islands National Wildlife Refuge and a significant portion of the funding that supports Point Blue’s program on the islands historically has come from the Service. Now, citing budgetary constraints at the regional and federal level, the Service has notified Point Blue that it will no longer be able to provide funding to continue our critical work on the Farallon Islands.

Please click here to sign our support letter!

Why do wildlife refuges matter?

Beyond their primary mission of conserving and enhancing land and water for fish, wildlife and plants, national wildlife refuges are important in other ways. They offer healthy, world-class outdoor recreation. They improve air and water quality across the nation. They provide buffers to natural disasters and the negative impacts of climate change.

Why are we asking for your support?

Our long-term, beloved, and impactful Farallones monitoring and stewardship program is on a National Wildlife Refuge, where we’ve been working in close partnership with the US Fish and Wildlife Service since 1968. Our 56 year-long data set and early to mid-career training program is at risk of coming to an end if we don’t do something fast. You can read more about our program and its impacts in the support letter below.

How can you Help?

The current system is not working, leaving the staff and partner networks depleted and understaffed. We are asking Congress to increase the amount that the Department of the Interior provides to Fish and Wildlife Refuges to allow our important work to continue.

Here are four ways you can help:

  1. Simple sign-on letter: If you are an individual or organization that would like to add your name to the general support letter provided below, please fill out this Google Form with your name and information by June 30, 2024. We’ll add all names at that date to a single letter and circulate to elected officials and staff at the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
  2. Customizable letter template for individuals and advocacy organizations: If you would like to customize this letter and send it yourself (which we strongly encourage you to do!) you can download a MS Word version of the letter by clicking this link. The letter template includes instructions on who to send your letter to.
  3. Customizable letter for non-advocacy groups: If you work for a federal or state agency and are not able to advocate for a particular funding level, please download a version to customize by clicking here. If you can, please add concrete examples on how your agency uses Farallon data for decision making or research.
  4. Support the Farallon Islands: If you can support us financially, we’d be forever grateful. Click here if you’d like to make a donation of $5,000 or less. If you are able to make a larger donation and are interested in becoming a Steward of the Farallon Islands, please contact Nancy Gamble at NGamble[at]

General Support Letter

Click here to add your name to this letter

Citing budgetary constraints at the regional and federal level, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently notified Point Blue that it will no longer be able to provide funding to continue critical work at many National Wildlife Refuges. For decades, Point Blue has worked across many different Refuges in California  to help support the Service’s primary mission of conserving wildlife through habitat protection and restoration. One example is on the Farallon Islands National Wildlife Refuge.

For over fifty years, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Point Blue Conservation Science have partnered to protect and study the Farallon Islands, located 27 miles off San Francisco. This partnership has fostered a leading seabird breeding research program, crucial for managing the largest seabird colony in the contiguous U.S. and a significant pinniped population. However, due to budget cuts starting in 2025, USFWS will cease funding Point Blue’s year-round research, threatening the continuity of vital ecological data and potentially impacting wider marine ecosystem management.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has maintained a unique and extremely effective partnership with Point Blue Conservation Science, a research-based nonprofit organization, to jointly study, conserve, and restore the Farallon Islands since 1968. Located 27 miles offshore from San Francisco, the islands are closed to the public and are managed by the USFWS as the Farallon Islands National Wildlife Refuge. The islands provide critical wildlife habitat, hosting the largest seabird breeding colony in the contiguous United States and 25% percent of California’s breeding seabirds (more than 300,000 individuals of 13 species), as well as five breeding pinniped species. Wildlife populations on the islands have thrived as a result of this partnership.

Through decades of collaboration, this unique public-private partnership has evolved into the foremost seabird breeding research program in the continental United States. Since 1968, Point Blue has maintained a continuous presence on the islands: 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, providing baseline monitoring of the islands’ wildlife populations. Point Blue uses its expertise in biology, ecology, and conservation to provide rigorous science to the Service, helping them make decisions that will ensure a healthy ecosystem on the islands for generations to come. Point Blue has typically raised 2 to 3 dollars from philanthropy for every dollar contributed by the USFWS to maintain this effort.

Point Blue’s ecological research on the Farallon Islands has precipitated pivotal environmental policy reforms. Notable among these are the 1987 prohibition of gill-netting  to protect seabirds from drowning in these nets, the 1993 legal protection of white sharks, and the creation of three CaliforniaMarine Protected Areas around the islands in 2010.

Due to budgetary constraints, the USFWS  has notified Point Blue that it will no longer be able to provide  its portion of the funding for Point Blue’s research and monitoring efforts, beginning in 2025. Without this support, Point Blue will not be able to maintain a year-round presence on the islands, and the islands will be unattended for several months of the year. Several of the long-term datasets will be discontinued. A smaller number of research assistants and graduate students will be able to be trained. Protection of the islands’ wildlife populations from human disturbance will be far more limited. We urge you to a) encourage Congress to support the  USFWS and the National Wildlife Refuge System at appropriate levels to achieve the Refuge System’s mission; and b) encourage the USFWS to find ways for the Farallon Islands National Wildlife Refuge to continue to allocate sufficient funding to Point Blue so we can maintain our year-round ecological monitoring program. 

The loss of potential ecological data gathered by Point Blue will not just hinder sustainable management of the Refuge, but also will impact management of NOAA’s Greater Farallones and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuaries, as well as various ecosystem assessments used to inform the Pacific Fisheries Management Council. Strong scientific data is the backbone of management decisions and the data collected by Point Blue is critical for the ongoing sustainable management of the islands’ wildlife as well as salmon, other fish of commercial value, sharks, whales, and many other species in central California.

Thank you for your consideration.

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