Audubon California in 2010 launched an ambitious project to protect breeding Western and Clark’s Grebes at four lakes in Northern California. The funding for Audubon California’s multi-layered project will come from the Luckenbach Trustee Council, which oversees the use of settlements arising from a series of oil spills that harmed grebes in the open ocean.
Audubon California is employing a variety of strategies to reduce the impact of human interference on breeding grebes at Eagle Lake, Lake Almanor, Clear Lake, and Thermalito Afterbay, which together support 76 percent of the total number of nesting grebes in California. The project will involve identifying the key threats at each site to the grebes, outreach and education to local communities, working with agency officials to optimize conditions for the birds, and extensive monitoring.
Audubon California is well suited to this work in that we will employ our strengths at both the state and local level – combining the science and outreach capabilities of the state program with local knowledge and expertise of our chapters and other partners. This approach promises to be particularly effective as each of the four lakes identified in the grant presents different challenges to Western and Clark’s Grebes. At Eagle Lake, for instance, the biggest threat to nesting grebes is from disturbance caused by boating, fishing and wind, while at Lake Almanor, the biggest challenge is declining water levels brought about in part from drawdown associated with power generation.
There are three strong Audubon chapters located near three of the four lakes, including Plumas Audubon, Redbud Audubon and Altacal Audubon. Eagle Lake, Lake Almanor and Clear Lake have all been identified as Audubon California Important Bird Areas, meaning that they provide essential habitat for breeding, wintering, and migrating birds. The Clark’s Grebe is an Audubon Watchlist species.
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