Sequoia Audubon Society
                              San Mateo County, California

SAS Conservation News


Sequoia Audubon joined environmental groups to protest construction of the Foster City Marina Center. The proposal is to build a boardwalk and pier along with 160 units of housing and 20,500 sq. ft of commercial space along Beach Park Blvd.

Sequoia Audubon joined forces with the Committee to Complete the Refuge, Save the Bay, Baykeeper, Sierra Club, and Committee for Green Foothills to protest the Foster City Marina Center Project, which we believe would have destroyed the Foster City shell bar and associated mudflats.  The standing-room-only crowd overwhelmingly opposed the project citing overcrowding of schools, traffic and overdevelopment.

After a majority of speakers at the February 23 Foster City Council meeting spoke against the project, the Council tabled consideration of the Foster City Marina Center because of citizen concerns over the environment, overdevelopment, schools and traffic.

PDF file of the letter that was written by SAS and other environment groups in the FCMC link in conservation.

Here is a PDF of the meeting notice.

Here is a PDF of the revised development plan.

Egret/heron rookery at the Port of Redwood City [Updated]

In June 2012 an egret and heron breeding colony was discovered at the Seaport Center and Port property in the tall trees mostly along Chesapeake Drive, with the largest concentration at the intersection of Saginaw Drive and Chesapeake Drive.

March 2, 2015: Hopefully spring of 2015 will again see a large and active nesting colony at the port.

In our effort to educate the port managers, the adjacent businesses and the public about the nesting birds in their midst, and why they are worth protecting, SAS will table at two Earth Day Fairs again this year:

  • The Marine Science Institute's Earth Day on the Bay, Saturday, April 18, 2015, 10am – 5pm
  • Seaport Centre Business Park Earth Day Event, Thursday, April 23, 2015, 11:30am – 1:30pm

If you would like to volunteer for this project, please contact Sue Cossins

August 2, 2014: Last survey report from San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory:

Unofficial numbers/trends:

  • Snowy Egrets – 16 nests, 30 adults, 19 young
  • Great Egrets – 4 nests, 7 adults, 7 young
  • Black-crowned Night Herons – 23 nests, 22 adults, 19 young

These are the same numbers that were reported in late June so the colony seems to be holding pretty steady.

SFBBO will soon be analyzing the data from the entire Colonial Waterbird Program and compiling a final report. Thanks to SAS members who assisted in our efforts to inform the public about the importance of protecting this valuable natural asset.

Contact Sue Cossins if you have any questions or if you would like to volunteer with the spring 2015 nesting season's activities, ie: Earth Day tabling, school group field trips to the rookery, etc.

In the wake of the "Mystery Goo" event, Wildlife Emergency Services is offering an Oiled Bird Rescue training on February 20th at the Fort Mason Center in San Francisco from 10:00 to 4:00.
The class is $60.00.

Update on SVCW's Popular Bird Watching Impoundment

By Dan Child, Manager, Silicon Valley Clean Water

As many may recall, drainage of Silicon Valley Clean Water's (SVCW)  landscape impoundment, which became a popular bird watching location at the entry of our facilities at 1400 Radio Road in Redwood Shores, was dictated in January of this year after the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service confirmed the cause of death of more than 200 ducks there as avian cholera.   

The landscape impoundment was created in 1998 on the west side of the treatment plant to eliminate dust from the dry barren dirt in the area and over time became a very popular bird watching destination. The water was kept fresh by a flow of recycled water from the treatment facility to replace water lost by evaporation and by allowing a certain amount to overflow back to the treatment plant. Peak water flow in the hot season reached over 100,000 gallons per day from the recycled water system.

As noted, prior to the avian cholera attack the affected area was a very popular location for the local bird watching community. SVCW plans to reestablish an area in the vicinity of the treatment plant as a landscape impoundment that will again be available for public viewing of birdlife.

In order to assure the avian cholera that infected the area will be eliminated, the water had to be removed and the soils must go through a drying time of more than four consecutive months with unequivocally no precipitation, because any wetting allows the avian cholera bacteria to flourish in the soil.  If the soil is wetted at all, the entire drying cycle must restart. 

Unfortunately, the rains in October and early November substantially moistened the soil, and as a result the drying must be repeated next summer (2015), as this is the most likely period without any precipitation.

The drying process started in January of 2014 with the draining of the standing water in the landscape impoundment.  We determined that the soil did not become completely dry until July.  As a result and based on the information we learned in regard to eliminating avian cholera from the soil, we had to keep the soil completely dry until November 17, 2014.

As described above, that did not happen. 

Depending on the amount of moisture we receive in the coming spring, we hope the soil will be dry earlier than last year and the drying period "end date" will correspondingly be earlier as well.

On top of the drying schedule, SVCW is also working with permitting agencies and our own staff and advisors to develop the best long-term land-use needs and strategy for the area. This is necessitated by our on-going infrastructure improvement/replacement program. 

The redesign and filling of the landscape impoundment area requires completing a permitting process that is complex with multiple agencies involved in review and acceptance of our permit applications.  It is unlikely that any of the landscape impoundment area will have water in it until at least late fall of 2015 and it may be longer than that, depending on the planning and permitting processes.

SVCW anticipates a landscape impoundment in our long-term plans and this area will provide the added benefit of reestablishing an area suitable for avian habitat.

We can all look forward to the return of water bird life along Radio Road in Redwood City, but unfortunately, the exact timing is not currently known.

Pacifica Snowy Plovers Get Protection

By Margaret Goodale

It was a thrilling morning for 45 volunteers on Friday, August 15, 2014 when Pacifica State Beach Snowy Plovers, a threatened species, finally received a sliver of flat beach where they will no longer face constant threats from human and canine disturbance.  With the capable help of a Public Works crew, over 950 feet of symbolic fencing was installed and decorated with signs designed by Ocean Shore School second graders.

This project was spearheaded by the Pacifica Shorebird Alliance. The funding came from Audubon California and was managed by SAS. It provided for all materials, tools, and the production of charming signs using drawings by ten local school children.

Kelley Nelson of Audubon California, the remarkable State Parks representatives Nelle Lyons and Joanne Kervabaz, SAS's Leslie Flint, and Kate Symonds from USFWS joined the happy volunteers.  Symonds will be overseeing compliance for USFWS funding of the regulatory signage and permanent fence that the city will eventually erect along the bike path east of the plover habitat and dunes.


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