February 19, 2014 –Stinson Beach, CA– Audubon Canyon Ranch (ACR), a leader in conservation science, habitat protection and restoration, and nature education, announced today that it has postponed the opening of its 1,000-acre West Marin preserve for its 2014 Public Season due a complete nesting failure in the heronry during the 2013 nesting season.

ACR’s biologists have been applying their expertise and the results of long-term egret research throughout the San Francisco Bay area to evaluate the possible causes and future consequences of the 2013 colony decline.

The delay in opening the preserve to the public is part of an integrated management framework created by ACR’s science team to establish conditions that will most effectively encourage the return of egrets and the recovery of the heronry. 

Changes to Martin Griffin Preserve in 2014 include:

  • 2014 Public Season at Martin Griffin Preserve will be delayed until a minimum level of nesting activity is observed. Martin Griffin Preserve could open April 19 if at least 32 pairs of egrets have established nests on the preserve, or in the nearby Bolinas Lagoon area, and are incubating eggs or caring for young.
  • ACR staff will intensify monitoring efforts in the heronry, which will include video surveillance.
  • ACR’s elementary school program, which serves thousands of children each year from throughout the Bay Area, will be moved to an adjacent canyon within the Martin Griffin Preserve, Volunteer Canyon, to continue providing top quality nature education without a lapse in programming.

“These actions will minimize human activity near the heronry and promote natural elements of the sanctuary that may persuade more herons or egrets to initiate new nests this spring,” said John Kelly, PhD, ACR’s Director of Conservation Science. “While we cannot control nature, ACR has a responsibility to make management decisions that are most conducive to the return of the egrets and their future nesting success.”

“The move to Volunteer Canyon this year is an ideal ‘teachable moment’ for our education team at ACR,” said Anne Burnett, ACR’s Director of Education and Outreach. “This is an authentic opportunity for students to be a part of a resource management process to reduce their collective human impacts on the birds we love. Further, this is an opportunity for kids to explore and inquire about nearby ecosystems in Volunteer Canyon.”

ACR’s commitment to heron and egrets began in 1962 when the organization was established to protect the heronry on Bolinas Lagoon at Martin Griffin Preserve. In 1990 ACR expanded its scientific efforts to include the monitoring of heron and egret nesting sites throughout the Bay Area.  In 2005, ACR published a 236-page Annotated Atlas and Implications for Conservation of Heron and Egret Nesting Colonies in the San Francisco Bay Area, summarizing 15 years of heron and egret monitoring in a format accessible to professionals in many different disciplines.

About Audubon Canyon Ranch

For more than 50 years, Audubon Canyon Ranch (ACR) has been dedicated to protecting nature through land preservation, nature education and conservation science.

ACR’s preserves include the Cypress Grove Research Center on Tomales Bay, the 535-acre Bouverie Preserve in Sonoma’s Valley of the Moon near Glen Ellen, the 1,000-acre Martin Griffin Preserve on Bolinas Lagoon near Stinson Beach, and the 3,320-acre Modini Mayacamas Preserves above Healdsburg.

ACR is an independent non-profit organization with 501(c)3 status and is not affiliated with the National Audubon Society. ACR’s programs are made possible thanks to the contribution of thousands of hours of volunteer service, and donations from caring individuals, foundations and businesses. For more information, call 415-868-9244, email acr@egret.org or visit www.egret.org.