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PACIFIC SOUTHWEST REGION: Bair Island Welcomed Back to the Neighborhood by Local Residents
California-Nevada Offices , June 24, 2016
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Bair Island is a peaceful oasis in an urban sea. Bair Island was saved from development by the residents of Redwood City in the 1990's. It was closed for restoration for years and now is open to visitors once again.
Bair Island is a peaceful oasis in an urban sea. Bair Island was saved from development by the residents of Redwood City in the 1990's. It was closed for restoration for years and now is open to visitors once again. - Photo Credit: Google Maps
Ennis Chauhan, leads a group of visitors on a hike along the new trails at Bair Island in Redwood City.
Ennis Chauhan, leads a group of visitors on a hike along the new trails at Bair Island in Redwood City. - Photo Credit: Chris Barr, USFWS

By Ennis Chauhan

Thanks to organizations partnering with the staff from Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Bair Island’s Nature Day was a welcomed addition to the peninsula.

Organizations such as the Peninsula Open Space Trust, Bay Trail, San Francisco Bay Wildlife Society, San Francisco Bird Observatory and Joint Venture were all there to help out and share their knowledge.

As the day began, the organizations set up their tables and materials preparing to tell the community about their respective organization and the role they shared in restoring the area that surrounds them. The various organizations also provided tips as to how the visitors themselves could volunteer or participate in helping the restoration project as well.

The representatives from the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) also provided valuable information, games for the children, as well as led nature walks for individuals and families who wanted to know more about Bair Island. A detailed history of Bair Island was discussed as well as future plans, which was outlined for all the visitors and guests that attended.

With a little over 125 participants, Bair Island’s Nature day was a successful and fun turnout for families and individuals alike. The total event was four hours in length, which began promptly at 11:00am beginning with the tables as previously mentioned by the various organizations. At 11:30am it was Deputy Project Leader, Chris Barr who gave an official welcome back to Bair Island.

In addition, he thanked the many organizations and groups for their support, as well as welcomed the residents and neighbors from around the area. Chris also delivered a special message to the children stating, this is their refuge! The overall message provided that day, was one of ownership.

The staff of the USFWS wanted to ensure that everyone knew this area belonged to the people. This is their place to keep clean, be vigilant of and take pride in as if this was an extension of their own homes. It was a time to inform the children that Bair Island would be there for their children, and to watch its restoration back to a salt marsh wetland habitat.

 

On this mild and sunny March 26th, there were a total of four nature walks. The first two walks began shortly after Chris Barr’s welcome back speech with an adult walk and child-friendly families walk.

The adult nature walk consisted of about 50 people and it was led by SFBBO’s David Thomson and USFWS’s Carmen Leong-Minch. The walk included more than just a look at the surroundings and wildlife; the participants were enlightened as to the benefits of wetland restoration, including helping to mitigate sea level rise and regulating climate. Additional topics included the new Monitor Change Project, the history of Bair Island and one stop along the way featured Miranda form SFBBO who was working with San Jose State University students to monitor the ecotone restoration project.

The Family Nature Walks were given throughout the course of the day and was a led by USFWS’s Erica Duke and Ennis Chauhan. The family walks were much shorter length than the adult nature walk and consisted of teaching the children about the habitats and wildlife they may encounter.

At the beginning of the family walk, each child and adult was introduced to wildlife habitat bingo. It was a bingo card with various wildlife and habitat clues that were covered along the walk so that the children were able to follow along and understand what was being covered. The wildlife bingo game incorporated concepts of the bay, sloughs, effects of littering, signs of wildlife, and the effects humans can have on the environment. At the end of the family walks, Jose Garcia of USFWS was on the observation deck with scopes set up for families to observe the different surrounding wildlife. Overall, the walks appeared to be a great success with a total of 33 people who participated; 17 in the first walk, 12 in the second and 7 for the final family walk.

After the walks, the children and adults alike were able to visit the tables that had been setup by the US Fish and Wildlife service and it’s afore mentioned partners. The table’s shaded tents provided some relief for the families to get out of the sun and the Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) provided refreshments for the event as well; so families were able to enjoy all the festivities in comfort.

To put together an event of this size was no easy feat. It took a good amount of planning, cooperation, support and coordination. Overall planning took approximately one month and POST really helped out with the advertising via Facebook. All of the targeted communities were represented, as residents of Redwood City, Redwood Shores, and San Carlos were in attendance; in addition to other local areas who wanted to more information about the event.

The original anticipated capacity was set for approximately 100 people. The registration lists had a maximum capacity of 195 people, with 125 attendees, so the event was executed to near perfection. The attendees appreciated the restoration and some volunteered to help continue the work that had been started. This event brought awareness to the local communities regarding the importance of wetlands, and how human beings can have a positive effect or deliver a devastating blow.

 

Ennis Chauhan is a Pathways Intern for the Don Edwards - San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge. 


Contact Info: Genie Moore, 408-262-5513, Ext. 100, genie_moore@fws.gov
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