In gratitude for all the ways you support nature and our work to preserve and steward these lands, we've gathered our best wildflower and wildlife photos taken this season—a video love letter from our preserves. Enjoy! BONUS! Watch to the end for new footage of one-month-old mountain lion kittens.
Tracking the movements of mountain lions using GPS collars is integral to understanding the population and ecology of such an elusive yet charismatic cat living amongst us here in the Valley of the Moon. The Living with Lions project had an exciting beginning to 2021, capturing and collaring five lions that will allow us to further monitor the fascinating behavior of Sonoma County’s lions, while also helping to reduce deadly run-ins between lions and local pets and livestock.
I often receive phone calls after residents’ sheep and goats are killed, which recently led to the capture of large male mountain lions P24 and P25 in the Healdsburg and Cazadero area, as well as an interesting female in the Bennett Valley/ Penngrove...
While the pandemic has raged, thanks to generous grants from the Marin Wildlife Commission and an ACR donor, ACR science staff have been busy this winter acquiring the equipment needed to set up two remote telemetry receiving stations (known as Motus stations) on Tomales Bay to aid in our efforts to better understand the movement ecology of our local bird populations as well as other wildlife.
Tracking wildlife: weighing the options
Historically, biologists use a couple of proven technologies to track the movements of birds and other wildlife: radio telemetry/VHF or satellite/GPS tags.
Very high frequency (VHF) tags emit a low power signal at a specific frequency that the biologist listens for using a portable receiver and an antenna. These tags,...
Tracking the movements of mountain lions using GPS collars is just one part of ACR’s Living with Lions project but it is essential to understanding the lion population as a whole. When a collaring opportunity arises, we have a short window for success. Recently we received three calls in rapid succession from residents who suspected mountain lions were responsible for deer and livestock kills on their property.
On February 22 Quinton Martins received a call about a dead deer found partially buried in leaf matter (called ‘caching’) in the front garden of a Sonoma Valley property. Upon investigation it was clear a mountain lion had made the kill, so with the landowner’s permission, Quinton set a trap to capture and collar this animal.
That night, the lion returned to...
ACR researchers recently published a paper in Condor, Ornithological Applications, reporting trends of Tomales Bay shorebird populations. Overall, most species of shorebirds have declined substantially on Tomales Bay in the last 30 years.
Tomales Bay: An important wetland for wintering shorebirds
Each year tens of thousands of shorebirds breed in the high latitudes during the summer then migrate to warmer latitudes for the winter. Tomales Bay, located within the Point Reyes National Seashore north of San Francisco Bay, has been recognized as an important wetland for these wintering shorebirds.
Across North America bird species—including shorebirds—are declining but it is often unclear how local factors across species’...
ACR Executive Director John Petersen will retire at the end of March after a 35-year career in conservation. A Board-directed executive search is underway; Nils Warnock, Ph.D., currently director of conservation science, has been appointed as the interim executive director, beginning on April 1.
“Under John’s leadership, ACR is tackling the region’s ongoing conservation challenges of dwindling biodiversity and climate-driven wildfire in ways that have delivered better outcomes for ourselves, our wild neighbors and the complex ecosystems of Northern California. His persistence in these areas will improve quality of life for generations of North Bay residents,” said Phillip Carlsen, president of ACR’s Board of Directors, in a note to supporters.
In the nearly four decades...
On the Modini Preserve in the northern Mayacamas Mountains, new post-fire populations of the non-native, woolly mullein (Verbascum thapsus) have exploded in several areas of burned knobcone pine (Pinus attenuata) understory—areas that were dominated by native species last spring.
Native to Eurasia, woolly mullein was intentionally introduced to the U.S. many times due to the plant's medicinal qualities. It relies on periodic disturbance for seedling establishment, which is greatly enhanced when there is bare ground—taking full advantage of conditions in play on the Preserve after the 2019 Kincade fire.
In our region, you may notice woolly mullein's typical biennial growth—in the first year, the seedlings will mature into large, dusty-green rosettes up to two feet in...
Winners Announced! Emerging Writers Explore Culture of Conservation for M.F.K. Fisher Last House Writing Contest
M.F.K. Fisher Last House Program Coordinator Susie Allen announced today the winners of the “Last House Writing Contest.” Launched in late summer, the contest resulted in more than two dozen essays submitted in child, youth and adult categories by writers from as far-afield as Los Angeles, Detroit and Copenhagen.
Writers were asked to explore the connection between environmental conservation, science and nature, food and drink, and the cultures surrounding them. Many wrote about COVID-19, their gardens, and the wildfires.
The judging panel, coordinated by food and wine consultant Clark Wolf, included some of the most accomplished writers, chefs, naturalists, and mentors working today: Ruth Reichl, Harold McGee, Leena Trivedi-Grenier, Michele Anna Jordan, Elizabeth Fishel...
Where are we going? ...What is a preserve? ...Can trees talk to each other? ...Are there always newts in the ponds? ...Who picks the colors?
Since 1970, students, docents, parents and teachers have been asking questions like these while participating in field trips and training classes on ACR preserves. Over the course of this half-century, 1,300 enthusiastic docents have led nature education and appreciation activities for more than 260,000 Bay Area third–fifth graders.
In celebration of this milestone, we’re collecting stories from you—teachers, docents, parents, and former student participants. Please take a moment to share your experiences, memories, photos, and take-aways in our brief 10-minute survey.
ACR, in partnership with Napa County, Napa County Resource Conservation District (Napa RCD), Rebuild NorthBay Foundation, and Sonoma Water, has produced a five-minute film highlighting the efforts of the North Bay counties of Napa, Mendocino, and Sonoma to reduce fire fuels and boost the region’s defenses against mega fires. We hope the film will spark a conversation in communities throughout California looking for proactive ways for residents to mitigate the West’s increasing exposure to catastrophic wildfire.