Park Wavelengths - May 2012


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

This summer is packed with celestial events! Keep those annular eclipse glasses handy for the Transit of Venus on June 5 beginning around 3:05 pm PDT and lasting until 8:24 am. The planet Venus will appear as a speck against the sun. A partial lunar eclipse of the full moon occurs in the wee hours of the morning on Monday, June 4 between 4:12 and 5:06 am.

Fire season has begun across the park and Marin County. Fire danger ratings are posted at park visitor centers. Use extra precaution with fires; extinguish with plenty of water. Check power equipment for spark arresters and inspect cars parked in dry gas areas to insure no catalytic converters come into contact with grasses. In extreme fire danger, Mount Vision Road is closed.

All park visitor centers will be open on Memorial Day, Monday, May 28.

A special Memorial Day commemoration is scheduled for 2 pm on Monday at the Coast Guard/Claussen Family cemetery off Sir Francis Drake Highway. Four surfmen are buried there and a Coast Guard Honor Guard will conduct a short ceremony along with park staff. The Historic Lifeboat Station at Chimney Rock will be open from 4 to 5 pm.

Bear Valley Visitor Center just received the new "military" annual pass for active duty military personnel and their dependents. The one year pass allows free entrance to national parks and is available with appropriate military identification.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Subject: Boat Ashore at Limantour

A 43-foot commercial salmon trawler came ashore, just south of Coast Camp on Limantour Beach, this morning sometime after sunrise; no loss of life. Salvage operators are working to remove 300 gallons of diesel fuel and will attempt to remove the boat from the beach.

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Thursday, May 10, 2012

The first annular eclipse to be seen in the U.S. since 1994 will put on a show May 20 between 5:15 pm and 6:32 pm in West Marin (fog permitting)! The new moon is swinging far in its orbit around the earth and isn't large enough to completely block out the sun (a total solar eclipse) so the partial blocking we will see is called an annular eclipse--from annulus or ring. An eclipse in Coast Miwok is "hin-muke"--sun gone. Never look directly at the sun! Pinhole shoeboxes and other devices will help observe the phenomenon. A complete listing of park events and timings for eclipse viewings may be accessed via

The brilliant evening star glimpsed at sunset over Inverness Ridge as one descends into Olema Valley is Venus.

Along Tomales Bay, reports of "fins in the water" are masses of bat rays seen off of Pebble Beach. A river otter has been seen around other bat ray territory--the Estero Bridge!

Wildflower season continues even as grasses begin to brown! Rattlesnake grass (Briza maxima) with its distinctive seed pods that look like a rattlesnake tail is growing profusely around Bear Valley trails and Limantour Road. It is also called "Quaking Grass," as wind blowing through it creates a unique rustling sound.

Wooly bears--tiger-striped caterpillars--have been wandering about the elk range in large numbers! They will eventually create cocoons and emerge as tiger moths but for now are busy foraging.

The Muir Woods Shuttle between Sausalito and Muir Woods is underway for the summer months. For schedule information, contact Marin Transit at 415-454-0902.

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Thursday, May 3, 2012

Forwarded to Park Wavelengths Subscribers

Subject: Upcoming Science Talks: May 3: Restoring Coastal Dunes; May 22: White House Pool

Spring Lunchtime Science Talks at Point Reyes National Seashore
Please join us for the following talks in the Red Barn Classroom at Park Headquarters from Noon - 12:45 (unless otherwise noted). Admission is free and all are welcome. Talks are hosted by the Pacific Coast Science and Learning Center at PRNS. Contact Ben Becker for more information.

May 3, 2012 (Noon)

Title: "Mechanical Removal of Invasive Beachgrass on Coastal Dunes: Creating Endangered Species Habitat at Point Reyes National Seashore"

Speaker: Sarah Minnick, Point Reyes National Seashore

Summary: Point Reyes National Seashore preserves some of the last remaining high quality coastal dune habitat in the United States. These dune systems are home to endangered plants and animals, such as Tidestrom's lupine, Western snowy plover, and Myrtle's silverspot butterfly. However, this habitat is seriously threatened by the rapid encroachment of two invasive, nonnative plant species, European beachgrass and iceplant. The Abbotts Lagoon Coastal Dune Restoration Project is restoring natural coastal dune processes and functions by removing invasive species south of Abbotts Lagoon. Come learn about the successful mechanical removal of 80 acres of beachgrass during the first phase of the project, see the initial monitoring results, and find out what's in store for the future.


(NEW TALK) May 22, 2012 (TUESDAY @ Noon)

Title: "White House Pool: An Historical view"

Speaker: Meg Linden, Volunteer with Jack Mason Museum of West Marin History and a retired librarian

Summary: An illustrated talk on the history of White House Pool and some of the adjacent areas. It will include some history of the Piedmont Dairy (Shafter property) and Alderbrook Dairy (Garcia-Alcantara property).


May 24, 2012 (Noon)

Title: "Removal of Scotch Broom from Point Reyes National Seashore"

Speaker: Lisa Michl and Ellen Hamingson, Point Reyes National Seashore

Summary: Point Reyes National Seashore has been working on a daunting five-year project: to remove Scotch broom (Cytisus scoparius) from the Seashore. This invasive plant has been in the park for over 35 years and threatens native habitats, including several rare plants and threatened and endangered wildlife. The species also changes soil chemistry, which alters plants that can grow nearby. By removing this plant, we open up room for native species to repopulate. Scotch broom covers over 270 acres spread across 2,500 acres of the park. The main area is bound by the Estero and located south of Pierce Point Road, west of Mt. Vision Road, and north of Limantour Road. Most of the area is covered in scattered patches, but in the center is the core area, where a thick stand of seven-foot- tall Scotch broom looms. A team of park staff, volunteers, interns, and contractors have been tirelessly working since 2010 to remove this tough plant. As of January 2012, over 164,454 plants have been treated over approximately 200 acres. A variety of tools are used to remove plants. Each mature plant that is removed eliminates over 10,000 seeds from the seed bank. This talk will cover reasons for prioritizing Scotch broom for current management; a description of the work done in FY2010-12; and a preliminary analysis of data from monitoring plots within the project area.


Ben Becker, Ph.D.
Science Coordinator and Marine Ecologist
Pacific Coast Science and Learning Center
Point Reyes National Seashore
1 Bear Valley Road
Point Reyes Station, CA 94956

tel: 415-464-5187 (NOTE NEW PHONE #)
fax: 415-663-8132 (NEW FAX)


The Pacific Coast Science and Learning Center is one of 19 Research Learning Centers at National Parks across the country working to increase the effectiveness and communication of research and science through:

  • Facilitating the use of parks for scientific inquiry
  • Supporting science-informed decision making
  • Communicating relevance and providing access to research knowledge
  • Promoting resource stewardship through partnerships

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Last updated: March 22, 2018

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

1 Bear Valley Road
Point Reyes Station, CA 94956


(415) 464-5100
This number will initially be answered by an automated attendant, from which one can opt to access a name directory, listen to recorded information about the park (i.e., directions to the park; visitor center hours of operation; weather forecast; fire danger information; shuttle bus system status; wildlife updates; ranger-led programs; seasonal events; etc.), or speak with a ranger. Please note that if you are calling between 4:30 pm and 10 am, park staff may not be available to answer your call.

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