That’s how San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge manager
Don Brubaker described the recent addition to the refuge of the former naval
base at Skaggs Island, in Sonoma County, CA.
Finalized on March 31, 2011, and celebrated at an on-site
event in June, the transfer of the land from the U.S. Navy to the U.S. Fish
& Wildlife Service adds 3,300 acres to the North San Francisco Bay refuge,
increasing its size by more than a quarter. It also adds much-needed haven in
the area for birds and other wildlife.
“Thanks to the great teamwork between the Navy and the
Service, and the support and cooperation of a lot of partners, we were able to
make it happen,” added Brubaker.
Attendees at the June 28, 2011 celebration of the transfer
included U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Acting Director, Rowan Gould;
Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Roger M. Natsuhara; and U.S. Rep. Lynn Woolsey
(CA). Congresswoman Woolsey was a key advocate for the protection and
restoration of Skaggs Island, introducing legislation in 2008 that enabled the
transfer between the two federal agencies. The Navy, meanwhile, spent several
million dollars on an extensive environmental cleanup and the demolition of
more than 100 buildings at the site, which served as a naval communications
base from 1942 to 1993.
The San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) was created
in 1974 to protect migratory birds, wetland habitat and endangered species like
the salt marsh harvest mouse and California clapper rail. The refuge and San
Pablo Bay support the largest wintering population of canvasbacks on the West
Now, the flag of the San Pablo Bay NWR flies over Skaggs
Island. As Rep. Woolsey observed in remarks that stirred the crowd at the June
celebration, “For so many years this land protected this country. Now, this
country will protect this land.”
By Doug Cordell
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