More volunteers needed at Sonoma Coast
Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods has taken on a contract with the Sonoma County Water Agency (SCWA) to provide volunteers for a Pinniped Monitoring Program that will require special training.
Pinnipeds are aquatic animals with flippers and include harbor seals, such as those in the Russian River Estuary that runs from Goat Rock State Beach up river to Duncans Mills.
Under mandate by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the SCWA has to be sure that the seals are not interfered with under the guidelines of an Incidental Harassment Permit.
Volunteers for this program would need to be on-call and do early morning shifts and would be given a stipend for this particular program.
The main objective is to see that the harbor seals are not harassed, especially between March and Labor Day when the pupping season takes place.
A training session for the Pinniped Monitoring Program will take place on Monday, January 10th from 9:00am-3:00pm at the Jenner Visitor Center.
Both experienced and new volunteers must attend and must register in advance by emailing Michelle Luna at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In addition, new volunteers must also attend a regular orientation meeting.
The next one is on Saturday, January 8th from 9:00am-12:00pm with pre-registration required.
The location of the meeting will only be given after registering.
Phone Ruby Herrick at 707-869-9177, ext. 1 or email her at email@example.com.
This regular orientation meeting on the 8th is also for those who are interested in volunteering for any of the Stewards’ many programs; such as Seal Watch, Whale Watch, Tidepool Docent, Sonoma Coast Hike leaders, hosting at the Jenner Visitor Center and the Armstrong Redwoods Visitor Center, and more.
Go to www.stewardsofthecoastandredwoods.org/volunteertraining.htm to learn about all of the volunteer opportunities.
The next Tidepool Docent meeting will be on January 29th from 9:00am-12:30pm.
Volunteers are needed for weekdays in the spring for school groups, as well as on weekends in the spring and summer. Again, pre-registration is required by phoning Ruby Herrick at 707-869-9177, Ext. 1 or emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The next regular orientation meeting after the one on January 8th will not be until March 19th.
For years, the Stewards have worked with California state parks along the Sonoma Coast Beaches, Armstrong Redwoods Park in Guerneville, and the Willow Creek Watershed.
Currently, the Visitors Center and restrooms in Jenner are being kept open and maintained by the Stewards.
NOAA’s Biological Opinion policy also requires that the SCWA must manage the Russian River Estuary as “an optimum fish habitat for salmonids.”
This would include the “construction and maintenance of a lagoon outlet that would facilitate management of a closed barrier beach at the mouth of the Russian River and create a summer lagoon to improve rearing habitat for listed steelhead (salmon), as well as “artificially breach the barrier beach to minimize potential for flooding of low-lying properties along the Estuary.”
These “low-lying properties” include not only the Visitors Center, but also homes and businesses in Jenner and ranch land lining the River near the Estuary in particular.
For generations, breaches were created by local concerned citizens both at the Russian River and south at Salmon Creek to keep homes and land from being flooded when naturally occurring breaches did not happen.
This was often the situation after a series of drought years when sand bars at both locations built up to the point where ocean waves could not break through them.
Now, after determining that this could have an adverse effect on “salmon rearing,” it is a combination of the SCWA, the Army Corps of Engineers, and NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service that determines when and if barrier beaches can be artificially opened.