CLOSURE NOTICE: All ACR preserves in Marin and Sonoma counties remain closed until further notice due to the public health risks of Covid-19. Resident preserve managers and stewardship staff continue to protect and steward these incredible resources for both natural and human communities. We hope to see you on the trail in the near future. While you are exploring nature nearer to home, please visit our Nature Where You Are resource page for engaging nature content, lessons for all ages designed by ACR educators and links to some of our favorite science-based nature resources.
The beginning of May brings the start of a fire season like no other in our lifetime, challenging land managers, fire agencies and residents alike to improvise new ways of working together while staying apart. Now, with fuels reduction for wildfire safety designated by Governor Newsom as essential work during the statewide SIP order, I want you to know that ACR land stewards and fire forward staff are actively managing the vegetation on all of our preserves while maintaining safe physical distancing between team members.
In West Marin, an archeological surface survey is underway at Martin Griffin Preserve in preparation for a prescribed burn in late fall, while at Cypress Grove Research Center, the weed-wacker and mower are in endless rotation.
In the Sonoma Valley, 38 piles of dead tree material were burned at Bouverie Preserve before the close of pile-burn season to reduce a heavy load of fuel along access roads.
In Northern Sonoma County, nutrients from the Kincade fire supercharged this year’s growth of wildflowers (yay!) and annual grasses (nay!) on Modini Preserve. With 3,000 acres to manage there, we are focused on mowing the high-risk areas around facilities and roads.
Across the region, our preserve managers continue to fire-harden our preserve structures.
While we cannot know with certainty when another weather-driven wildfire will hit the North Bay, we do know that, with sound stewardship practices, restoring our lands’ natural defenses against high-severity fire is one of our strong suits. With the Governor’s support, we are grateful to be on the land doing this work.
All of our other program and preserve staff continue to work from home — connecting with our volunteers, members and colleagues in productive and innovative ways.
As we all have witnessed, the COVID-19 outbreak has accelerated at a rapid pace and predictions on the eventual number of cases is disheartening. I would first like to acknowledge the difficulties that everyone is going through. These times are disconcerting, stressful, scary, and disruptive. None of us is immune to the mental and emotional effects of this pandemic as we try to keep ourselves and loved ones healthy and maintain some sense of normalcy. With that in mind I want to express my gratitude to the ACR community:
- To our staff, for their commitment to the ACR mission and in stepping up at the beginning to adapt to changing work environments and priorities. They are now productively occupied at home with work plans jointly developed with their supervisors. Fortunately, the nature of our work is that much can be done remotely, with regular inter-staff communications. There is still much to do, and we are retooling where possible to increase our online and virtual presence.
- To our board, for their steadfast leadership and in always pushing ACR to do better, increase our impact, be relevant, adapt to change, and follow the mission. These times will test us all, but I am confident that by pulling together we are up to the challenge.
- To the legions of ACR volunteers—education, stewardship, and science—who have been so understanding and compassionate when their programs were abruptly upended. Despite this they remain a connected community that leans on each other for support. Their positivity is inspirational.
- To our funders/donors, both past and present, who contribute to our mission and ever-growing impact. We couldn’t do it without them.
Under the extended regional stay-at-home order, ACR has postponed or cancelled all events on our preserves through May 3, 2020. We look forward to the day when we can again come together (closer than six feet!). In the interim, we offer you these tools for new discovery in your backyard and slightly beyond:
- Now is the time to bird your local ‘patches’ with some guidance from Director of Conservation Science Nils Warnock and avian ecologist Diana Humple.
- Local wildflowers are spectacular this season, especially in areas recently burned. Ours have been captured in Instagram and Facebook. Please share with us what you've found in your neighborhood.
- Fire season is just around the corner and COVID-19 may impact the region’s ability to respond with fire suppression. Yet, Fire Forward Director Dr. Sasha Berleman finds hope in the way our community is reducing fuels and restoring ecological processes. You'll find tips in our fire resource hub.
While the impacts of COVID-19 are testing us in new and unexpected ways, rest assured that ACR will be here for you through science, education and community. We can’t thank you enough for making this highly essential work possible.
March 1, 2020
Dear ACR Community,
With the evolving COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, we want to let you know that we as an organization are planning for various scenarios. Your health and safety is primary. While there is still much to learn about coronavirus transmission and severity, we are taking a cautious and conservative approach in order to minimize any detrimental effects to staff, volunteers, and program participants.
Some of the key considerations we are using when making decisions on appropriate responses are:
- Disease severity (i.e., number of people who are sick, hospitalization and death rates) in our community;
- Impact of the disease on employees and volunteers that are vulnerable and may be at higher risk for COVID-19 adverse health complications. (Some people may be at higher risk for severe illness, such as older adults and those with chronic medical conditions.)
- Possible increased numbers of employee and volunteer absences due to illness in employees, volunteers, and their family members, or dismissals of early childhood programs and K-12 schools.
If it becomes necessary to cancel previously scheduled programs and events, our staff will connect with event leaders and registered participants and our calendar will reflect the cancellation. If you have a question about an upcoming preserve visit, workshop or training, please email [email protected].
You may find useful information in the following articles and updates:
- Preparing for Coronavirus to Strike the U.S. (Scientific American online, 27 Feb 2020)
- Coronavirus Update, Marin County Department of Health and Human Services
- Coronavirus Information, Sonoma County Department of Public Health
- Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
As this situation is rapidly changing, these contingencies will be regularly updated and our community informed. Thank you all for your cooperation.