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San Pablo Bay NWR: Refuge Hosts Tour de Skaggs
California-Nevada Offices , November 9, 2016
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Refuge Manager Don Brubaker gives an introduction prior to the bike tour.
Refuge Manager Don Brubaker gives an introduction prior to the bike tour. - Photo Credit: Carmen Minch
Families returning from the ride.
Families returning from the ride. - Photo Credit: Carmen Minch
Friends of San Pablo Bay President Francesca Demgen gives riders a Sense of Place at one of the stops.
Friends of San Pablo Bay President Francesca Demgen gives riders a Sense of Place at one of the stops. - Photo Credit: Carmen Minch

The enthusiastic rings of bike bells permeated the air as bicyclists pedaled over the Skaggs Island Bridge to explore the normally closed unit of the San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge. This former naval communication station was acquired by the USFWS in 2011 to be restored back to tidal salt marsh habitat. The 3,000-acre parcel is currently open only to special tours while undergoing the planning process. But, on September 15, 2016, the island was open to the public as one of the free events of the Visions of the Wild Festival.

 

The Visions of the Wild Festival was created in 2014 by the US Forest Service to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act. The festival which lasts multiple days combines nature, culture, and community. Its success spurred the Forest Service to hold the event annually. San Pablo Bay NWR has taken part in this festival since its inception.

Nearly 200 people attended the event. Bicycling clubs, families, and those curious about the former naval communication station wanted to take this opportunity to see the island. People brought their own bicycles but if they didn’t have one, Kayaking and Biking Vallejo outfitted visitors with bicycles free of charge.

Refuge Manager Don Brubaker offered a guided tour for the seven-mile route. Those who would rather explore on their own were given maps of the routes and to the stations that were manned by refuge staff, volunteers, and Friends of San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Stations provided background and information about the site. Stations that were set up touched upon sense of place, the VORTAC that was used by the navy, restoration of Skaggs Island, history of Skaggs Island, and the current management of the island.

As the cyclists finished their tour, several requested the event be held again, to which San Pablo Bay NWR agreed. Skaggs Island was once closed off to the community for decades due to its federal intelligence gathering activities. Now that the refuge manages the island, activities such as Family Bike Day will bring the surrounding community back to the land through history and connections to the natural resource.


Contact Info: Carmen Minch, 510-792-0222 ext. 476, carmen_leong-minch@fws.gov
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