News.bytes Extra, issue 465

Seabirds, scenic vistas & stimulating studies

South Central Coast Seabird Protection Network holds initial coordination meeting & tour

A team of partners led by the BLM is working to help seabird species thrive along California's central coast.  The BLM's California Coastal National Monument is the lead on the Seabird Colony Enhancement Project. The Project's primary goal of is to improve the nesting success of seabird species such as cormorants and common murres, by reducing human disturbances at their breeding colony. The project also aims to improve the survivability and condition of roosting seabirds such as California brown pelicans. (text continues below)

Team members view birds and nesting sites with binoculars and telescopes
South Coast Seabird Protection Network meeting participants view seabirds on the California Coastal National Monument, through spotting scopes at Piedras Blancas Outstanding Natural Area.

The team got together in one place for the first time recently, with a tour of part of the project area, and a face-to-face meeting. The Seabird Colony Enhancement Project is being funded by $1.2 million from the court settlement of a 1997 oil spill from the Torch Irene oil platform in the Santa Barbara Channel.  The Torch/Platform Irene Oil Spill Restoration Plan and is being managed by the BLM's Hollister Field Office.Last month, the team gathered with other key participants for a tour of the northern San Luis Obispo County coastal section of the project area on one day and a sit-down meeting of two dozen attendees the next day in Cambria.

The meeting’s primary goal was to coordinate the expansion of the Seabird Protection Network (SPN) into the Torch/Platform Irene Oil Spill restoration project area, an area extending south from Point Sur to Point Mugu and includes the Northern Channel Islands. The meeting enabled the South Central Coast SPN Team to meet the members of the Torch Trustee Council (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, California Department of Fish and Game, California State Lands Commission, and Vandenberg Air Force Base) and the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary’s (GFNMS) Seabird Protection Network staff. The group reviewed the GFNMS’ successful program and wide variety of outreach products they have produced, received input from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regarding their current seabird monitoring program with the GFNMS’ SPN project, and explored ways the GFNMS and BLM can work in collaboration to expand the Seabird Protection Network. The meeting also enabled all of the key participants to go over the entire project, identifying the tasks to be accomplished over the next 12 months.

In his remarks at the opening of the meeting, CCNM manager Rick Hanks pointed out that, “The South Central Coast Seabird Protection Network Project provided the opportunity to facilitate a large resource protection project with California Coastal National Monument partners leading two of the three components, work with a number of the monument’s other partners, and create stewardship opportunities for local communities.”

Project leadership among the two dozen participants included Kathy Hardy, BLM Central California district manager; CCNM manager Rick Hanks; Eric Morgan, BLM’s Fort Ord manager and project manager for the inter-agency South Central Coast Seabird Protection Network Project; Jim Weigand, BLM State Office ecologist and BLM SPN coordinator (and primary author of the Torch Spill SPN scope of work); Cara O’Brien, California State Parks (a CCNM Core-Managing Partner) Interpreter II from the San Luis Obispo Coast District, the project’s outreach coordinator, in cooperation with Marcia deChadenedes, BLM-CCNM outreach and partnership coordinator; Dan Robinette, a seabird biologist working out of Vandenberg Air Force Base for PRBO Conservation Science (a CCNM Collaborative Partner), the project’s biological coordinator, in cooperation with Mike Westphal, BLM Hollister Field Office ecologist; and Brian Martin, BLM Bakersfield Field Office chief law enforcement ranger, and Kelly Cole, BLM Hollister Field Office chief law enforcement ranger, the co-coordinators for the project’s law enforcement component.

Man points to spot on map for people around him
Dan Robinette of PRBO Conservation Science explains seabird monitoring plan at Piedras Blancas Outstanding Natural Area (ONA) stop.

Woman looks to sea from a telescope
BLM Central California District Manager Kathy Hardy observing seabirds through spotting scope.

Man points to rocks along the coast
South Central Coast Seabird Protection Network Project Manager Eric Morgan points out offshore rocks near Point Buchon.

A large white rock juts out from the sea behind a man and woman in conversation
BLM Central California District Manager Kathy Hardy and BLM California State Office ecologist Jim Weigand discuss seabirds and seabird monitoring along the south central coast.

Members gather around conference tables
The group assembled at the Cambria Pines Lodge for the first face-to-face meeting of the South Central Coast Seabird Protection Network coordination meeting.

A woman holds a printout and points to a projected slide
GFNMS’ Seabird Protection Network outreach specialist Mai Maheigan describes SPN products. 

- Rick Hanks, California Coastal National Monument manager

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