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Contact: John Dell'Osso, 415-464-5135
Point Reyes National Seashore will be educating visitors about limiting access to wetlands and sensitive marsh bird and plant species that occur along the Giacomini Ranch levees and adjacent areas during extreme high tide events starting this weekend. Southern Tomales Bay is home to a number of special status species, including the state-listed California black rail, yellow rail, Virginia rail, and, occasionally, the federally listed California clapper rail. There are also several sensitive plant species. The rails use the salt marsh for nesting, winter refuge, and roosting and forage in intertidal flats that are exposed during low tide. During the extreme high tides, these birds, which do not fly well, must seek refuge on high elevation uplands that border salt marshes. In southern Tomales Bay, some of the only high tide refuge available is the thin strip habitat formed by levees of the Giacomini Ranch. During these tides, many of these birds become more vulnerable to predation by species such as herons, egrets, and raptors, particularly if the refuge is unavailable because of the presence of humans or other disturbances. In addition, people walking along the levee during high tides can trample sensitive wetland vegetation, including rare species and can trample protective cover vegetation for the rails.
The Seashore is encouraging birdwatchers and other visitors to limit their access to the very western end of the Giacomini Ranch north levee just west of the concrete spillway. Volunteers will be educating visitors about rails and their life history and the need to protect these species' high tide refuge.