Land conservation in the Mayacamas Mountains took an important step forward on August 22 when the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors approved a conservation easement for the Modini Ranch. The agreement allocated $1 million of Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District funds to prohibit future development of the 1,725-acre property of Jim and Shirley Modini, long-time Audubon members.
This parcel of land has particular importance to Madrone Audubon, since it lies along the eastern boundary of Audubon's Mayacamas Mountain Sanctuary and connects to the south and east with a much larger property already under Open Space District protection, the Santa Angelina Ranch. Altogether, protection in this area has been extended to 13,000 acres of land controlling a major Russian River watershed. The Modini Ranch was brought before the Board of Supervisors in May, but at that time, a decision was deferred until a new acquisition plan for the Open Space District could be adopted. This plan calls for equal allocation of funds among four categories of projects, one of which is the protection of high-quality natural resources, a strength of the Modini land.
Very little has been done on this property over the years to alter its natural state. In a telephone interview with Madrone Audubon Conservation Co-Chair Diane Hichwa, Shirley Modini observed that they have never cut a tree on their property, not for timber or even at the house site-their home was built "where the old house was".
There are evergreen woodlands, seven species of oak, waterfalls, and a creek that provides spawning and rearing habitat for wild salmonids. Black bears, mountain lions, and coyote have been sighted on the ranch, and Golden Eagles have been nesting there consistently. This year the Modinis have been regularly watching three eagles, a pair with a "youngster" that has fledged, as they feed or circle overhead.
Jim's family has lived on the property since 1867. He inherited the property from his aunt, Mrs. Engels. Shirley says that she herself is a latecomer, having only been living there for over 50 years, since shortly after her marriage to Jim in 1943. Jim Modini gives new meaning to the term "longtime member"; he belonged to the Audubon Society when he was in grammar school in Richmond, California.
Shirley and Jim have seen changes over the years in their rugged mountain landscape. She points out that, while the list of birds seen on their land is extensive, there are fewer birds now than there used to be. "There were lots of native trout and loads of steelhead, too," she continues. "You always hope things will come back."
There is hope for just that now, with the ranch property and a large part of the surrounding habitat protected. The Modini's dream of creating the Modini Wildlife Sanctuary for the benefit of wildlife, scientific research, and public education is much closer to being realized.
San Francisco Baylands
The Audubon Society has launched an ambitious, 10-year San Francisco Baylands Program to restore 100,000 acres of bay and delta land to its natural state.
The goal, in effect, is to turn the clock back 100 years, before the wetlands were filled or diked to create land or ponds for farming, grazing, salt making, and other development.
The San Francisco Baylands Program is likened to the Society's ongoing campaign to restore the Everglades in Florida.
The project will require more than $1 billion and the cooperation
of local, state, and national governments, John Flicker, president
of the National Audubon Society, says. But he is confident that
it can be done.
Madrone is very much a part of the action. Sylvan Eidelman has been our representative on the Bay Area Audubon Council, which laid the groundwork for the drive.
Sylvan summarized the blueprint for the restoration project, the Baylands Ecosystem Habitat Goals report, in the March 2000 Leaves. It details the types, amounts, and distribution of wetlands and related buffer habitats needed to sustain a healthy ecosystem. It also sets restoration goals for 124 individual sites-totalling 100,000 acres.
Even in its compromised state, the Bay-Delta is the most important estuary on the West Coast, Sylvan noted. It contains 90% of all California remaining wetlands. Perhaps 1 million shorebirds-three-quarters of all in the Pacific flyway-feed or breed in them each year. The Bay-Delta also is an important habitat for herring, salmon, seals, sea lions, and other species and the wetlands are important in flood control and, by filtering toxins, in water quality.
Daniel Taylor, executive director of Audubon-California, has
sent out appeals for tax-deductible gifts to support the early
groundwork for the program.
If you are interested in helping and haven't sent a contribution
yet, contact Audubon-California at 555 Audubon Place, Sacramento,
- Passage and signing of AB398. This creates a special Baylands account in the State Wildlife Conservation Board's Wildlife Restoration Fund and primes it with a first-year appropriation of $25 million. The money will be used to begin purchase of the 19,000-acre Cargill salt ponds complex in the South Bay. Audubon is lobbying Congress to put up the rest of the purchase price.
- State (Coastal Conservancy) funding for purchase of 1,600 acres of diked historic baylands near Novato, originally set for development as Bel Marin Keys Unit V. State and federal funding is being sought for tidal marsh restoration.
- Federal funding for restoration of tidal marsh on 900 acres of diked historic baylands at the decommissioned Hamilton Air Force Base near San Rafael.
- Passage and expected signing of HR1775, the federal Estuary Partnership Habitat Restoration Act. The Baylands project is eligible for $4 million a year under this act. Grants must be matched by local/state funding.
Audubon has worked with both public and private partners to win these important early funding sources, according to Mike Sellors, policy director for the Baylands Program.
October 16, 7:30 PM
First United Methodist Church
The Hallberg Butterfly Gardens
Join "Miss Hallberg's Butterfly Garden" author Gay Bishop and Master Gardener Judy Crawford for an armchair tour of this Sonoma County treasure. Almost as good as being outdoors with the butterflies themselves, the slide show will transport the viewer into a world of winged wonders, featuring the garden's plants, butterflies, and the woman whose vision of conservation started it all. This program would be a good one for children eight years and older.
Gay Bishop's newly released children's book will be available at the meeting. It may also be purchased from Pipevine Press by calling 823-8924, and at the Hallberg Gardens or Copperfield's bookstores. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this book will be donated to benefit the Gardens.
Prior to the program, there will be an update on the Rural Heritage Initiative/Measure I Campaign. Madrone members will have an opportunity to ask questions of RHI Steering Committee member Sky Chaney and MAS Past President Joan Dranginis.
NOTE NEW LOCATION! The First United Methodist Church is at 1551 Montgomery Drive, about one-half mile west of Montgomery Village between California Avenue and Talbot Avenue and just two blocks east of Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital. Parking is available on Montgomery Drive. As always, the public is invited to these programs.
No salary but many benefits to Madrone Audubon Society, that is! We would still like to find someone to fill the position of Program Chair. This involves scheduling and welcoming guest speakers at our monthly General Meetings. It does not require searching out the programs; we have plenty of good prospects available.
The annual Gray Whale migration along the Sonoma Coast will begin soon, and Whale Watch needs volunteers. Whale Watch volunteers assist visitors at Bodega Head in observing the whales off shore.
An orientation and training for volunteers will be held on Saturday, November 11, starting at 9:00 AM at the Bodega Bay Grange Hall. Topics will include: responsibilities of volunteering, park policies and procedures, styles of interpretation, and the natural history of Gray Whales. The training lasts until 1:30 PM, so participants should bring a lunch and warm clothing for a visit to Bodega Head.
Whale Watch is a "Volunteers in Parks" program supported by Stewards of Slavianka, the nonprofit volunteer organization that works in cooperation with State Parks in the Russian River/Mendocino District. To register for the training, call Bea Brunn at 526-9153 or Linda Finch at 869-9177.
Bodega Bay, September 6
Duncans Mills/Jenner, September 13
We're going to try again to visit the Ferguson Observatory at Sugarloaf Ridge on Friday, October 20. Last year, our trip to the observatory was marred by the ash and smoke from the fires at Lake Berryessa. We were unable to open the roof and the staff didn't have the key to get to the slides for the slide show, so this particular outing was not exactly stellar (forgive the pun). We've been assured that this year it will be an interesting evening, even if we are smoked out (or fogged out). Let's give it another go! Call Janice to RSVP and to get exact details. Her number is 857-3031.
Coming up: On Saturday, November 18, a visit to the Spring Lake Visitor Center's "California Harvest".
Madrone member and naturalist John Klobas will offer his "Fall Migration of Birds" class at Sonoma State University, beginning Thursday evening, October 19. The class meets seven times, with five field trips to Hawk Hill, Bodega Bay, Point Reyes, the Central Valley, and the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge. Call SSU at 664-2394 to register. Also, Santa Rosa Junior College will offer a one-day trip to the Sacramento NWR with John on November 18. Call SRJC at 527-4371 for this trip. Contact John at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 823-4185 for more information, or if you wish to be added to his Wildlife Adventures e-mail contact list.
By Betty Stafford
We have bountiful offerings this fall for you, our good friends....
BOLINAS LAGOON PRESERVE
Under the Heronry with Ray Peterson. Saturday, October 28, 9:30 AM - Noon. That's right, under the heronry. Our delightful former Resident Biologist will have some surprises for you. Bring your friends for this short, but fascinating, walk. Free, but please call (415) 868-9244 to register.
Fall Work Day and Free Lunch! Saturday, November 4, 9:30 AM, at Picher Canyon. We need your help with library work, trail work, pulling weeds, planting native flowers, or cooking lunch (we provide). Call (415) 868-9244 to let us know you're coming.
Guided Nature Walks. October 14, November 11, December 9, January 13, January 27, February 24, March 24, April 7, April 21, May, 5, May 12, 9:30 AM - 1:30 PM. This is your chance to experience the beauty and rich natural history of this 500-acre Preserve. Call 938-4554 for a lottery form, which must be returned one month prior to the walk. There is no charge, but donations are appreciated.
Fall Work Day and Free Lunch! Saturday, October 7, 9:30 AM. Come help us spruce up the Preserve. Call 938-4554 to register, so that we can plan enough food!
Trail Days. October 23, November 13, January 8, February 5, April 9, May 7, 8:15 AM - 12:30 PM. Can you believe that our work days are so popular that we limit them to 15 participants? We do, but bring gloves, a lunch, and lots of energy to help clear trails, pull non-native plants, or work in the native plant garden. We'll provide drinks and an inside look at this beautiful place. Call 938-4554 to register.
Giving Thanks with our ACR Biologist Rebecca Anderson-Jones. November 18, 10:00 AM - 3:00 PM. Have you ever wondered how to express the gratitude you feel for nature? Come explore the various ways an intact ecosystem provides for our needs. This is a chance to review some basic ecological concepts, share some highlights of the Preserve's fall season, and discuss the variety of ways people can show their thanks. We'll top it off by sharing our packed-in potluck and a couple of local Native American stories by the Tule House. Bring food to share, water, and something to share that expresses gratitude for nature. The fee is $20. Call (415) 868-9244 to register.
A Note about The Ardeid
ACR publishes a twice-yearly newsletter, The Ardeid, with reports on our research and resource management programs. The current issue features a report on Helen Pratt's more than 30 years of research on Great Blue Herons and Great Egrets by John Kelly, an article on "The Futures of Bolinas Lagoon" by Greg de Nevers, a delightful vignette on ravens and ACR's Raven Study by Mark McCaustland, and updates on 10 ongoing research projects sponsored by ACR.
Subscriptions to The Ardeid are available free of charge; however, contributions are gratefully accepted. Call (415) 663-8203 to subscribe or, better yet, to volunteer as a field observer or habitat restoration helper.
Ardeide is the scientific name of the heron family, including egrets. Helen Pratt is a volunteer extraordinaire whose field studies and scientific papers on Great Blue Herons and Great Egrets have established much of the current knowledge of these magnificent birds, which grace our Redwoods and Douglas Firs each nesting season. Most of her reports address population trends and nesting success and have become important sources of information for natural resource agencies, including the Marin Audubon's study of the West Marin heronry and the National Park Services environmental impact report for Alcatraz Island. Helen's 30-year database will no doubt lead to further insights into the herons' reproductive performance, habitat, colonial nesting, and population trends throughout the world.
Audubon Canyon Ranch is an independent non-profit organization
By Dan Nelson 762-3811
Black-footed Albatross (120) 8/26 Offshore Sonoma County M.O.A.
CONTRIBUTORS: Dick Ashford, Ted Eliot, Don Kirker, Sarah Klobas, John Klobas, Rick Lebadour, Calvin Lou, Richard Merriss, Ellyn Morrison, Ian Morrison, Dan Nelson and Mollymawk Offshore Adventures, Benjamin D. Parmeter, Jane Robinson, Ruth Rudesill, Roger Sanborn, Rusty Scalf, Monica Schwalbenberg-Pena, Shearwater Journeys, and Alan Wight.
Native Plant Sale. Saturday, October 14, from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM at the Santa Rosa Veterans Memorial Building. A wide selection of native plants and seeds, including rare plants and habitat plants to attract birds and butterflies. Sponsored by the Milo Baker Chapter of the California Native Plant Society.
Orienteering. Sunday, October 22, from 9:00 AM to Noon at Tamarancho Boy Scout Camp in Fairfax. Beginners' courses included; sponsored by the Bay Area Orienteering Club. For information call (408) 255-8018 or (415) 456-8118.
Peter Leveque Natural History Lecture. Friday, November 3, at 7 PM in Newman Auditorium at Santa Rosa Junior College. Dr. Jeffrey Graham will present a lecture entitled "Mr. Eiseley's Snout and Dr. Seuss' Hummers: Musings about Fish, Water, Land and Air". Dr. Graham is a research physiologist from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and director of the Birch Aquarium at Scripps. He is a renowned authority on air-breathing fishes.
Booth Applications are available for the annual Christmas Crafts Faire held at the Santa Rosa Veterans Building on two weekends in November. This is a major fundraising event for the Russian River Watershed Protection Committee. Call Brenda Adelman at 869-0054 for an application.
AND FARTHER AFIELD:
"Festival of the Cranes". November 16-19, at the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in Socorro, New Mexico. Sponsored by the Friends of the Bosque. For information, call (505) 835-0424, or consult the website.
The West Nile Virus is causing crows to die in the Eastern United States. It is not known to be in here in the West, but dead crows can provide early warning that the virus is circulating in a region. The California Department of Health Services requests that sightings of dead or dying crows be reported to Erin Lopes at (510) 540-3077. The report should provide the sighting date, terrain, approximate miles to chicken flock, zip code, and an estimate of how long dead and any other dead birds in the area.
A Corvallis, Oregon researcher is looking for reports of Caspian Terns with colored leg bands. Note color band combinations on each leg, reading colors from top to bottom, as well as time, date, location, and activity of the terns. Pink markings on a wing should also be noted, indicating radio transmitting. Report to Dr. David Craig at Oregon State University, (541) 737-2786 or www.realtimeresearch.org.
The Madrone Audubon Society wishes to thank Flex Products, Inc. for their recent donation to the Chapter.