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What is Audubon California Doing about Climate Change?

The summary below outlines Audubon California’s programs that contribute to abating the impacts of climate change or increasing the climate resiliency of our priority California habitats and birds. Summaries are organized by our 4 priority landscapes.

Climate Projects by Audubon California Landscapes

The summary below outlines Audubon California’s programs that contribute to abating the impacts of climate change or increasing the climate resiliency of our priority California habitats and birds. Summaries are organized by our 4 priority landscapes. For more information on a specific project, please contact the project manager listed below.

Central Valley

Working Lands

Contact: Samantha Arthur, samantha.arthur@audubon.org, (415) 269-8031

  • Groundwater Management Planning - We are working with priority Central Valley watersheds and groundwater basins to integrate projected climate scenarios into water budgets for wetlands in the Central Valley; this project also provides climate resiliency by protecting managed wetlands from groundwater reductions, ensuring there is habitat refugia in a climate stressed region. This work is supported through the Wildlife Conservation Board Climate Adaptation and Resiliency Program.
  • Farm Restoration and Crop Management for Carbon Sequestration - In partnership with River Garden Farms, a 15,000 acre farm in Sacramento Valley, we are in the second year of implementing a Healthy Soils Demonstration project designed to sequester carbon and reduce greenhouse gas emissions while also providing bird habitat; the mile-long riparian restoration along the historic Sycamore Slough, that is part of this project, is not the first time Audubon and RGF have partnered on climate solutions; previously we facilitated two contiguous miles of climate-smart riparian restoration at the farm.
  • We are studying the benefits of cover crops on post-harvest rice fields to build soil health, sequester carbon, increase water infiltration as well as provide bird habitat and we are using this work to encourage other farmers to implement carbon farming practices. Over 60 farmers have toured our project site and learned how to implement restoration and cover crops to provide habitat for wildlife and benefits to soil health in an effort to meet the state’s climate adaptation goals

 

Bobcat Ranch

Contact: Dash Weidhofer, Dash.Weidhofer@audubon.org , (530) 624-3824

 Matt Allshouse, Matt.Allshouse@audubon.org, (916) 737-5707

  • Using Regenerative Grazing to sequester carbon, increase grassland climate resiliency, and improve bird habitat – Bobcat Ranch is the first demonstration site in California for the Audubon Conservation Ranching program. California grasslands are under threat with an average of 20,000 acres a year being lost to development or crop conversion and with that we have seen an alarming drop in grassland bird species. Widespread consensus now exists among soil scientists that regenerative grazing approaches can enhance the ecological function of rangelands, including rebuilding soil organic matter (including sequestering carbon), increasing plant diversity and cover, and enhancing water infiltration. We are working with ranches in California to help make them more climate resilient and improve their potential to capture carbon in the soil through a market-based incentive program.

 

Kern River Preserve

Contact: Reed Tollefson, Reed.Tollefson@audubon.org, (760) 378-2531

  • Climate Restoration - The 80 acre restoration site on Kern River Preserve by US Army Corps of Engineers is in year 4 of 5 on a formerly cultivated hay field.  The thousands of perennial native plants will grow and sequester carbon.  The Fay Creek diversion and ground water formerly used to irrigate this field for agriculture will be left in the natural systems to support the hydrologic integrity of Fay Creek and the South Fork Kern on Kern River Preserve.
  • You can also look at recent KRP Facebook post with before and after shot from our parking lot.  This is not an on-going restoration project but it demonstrates that the +315 acres planted and another +300 acres allowed to revegetate naturally on KRP through the decades growing and sequestering more carbon every year. It looks better on the Facebook post than the pics.

 

Coasts

San Francisco Bay Program

Contact: Rebecca Schwartz Lesberg, Rebecca.SchwartzLesberg@audubon.org, (415) 388-2524

Rebecca.SchwartzLesberg@audubon.org

  • Transforming an Urban Wetland in Marin City to protect the community and birds against sea-level rise – We are working with a grassroots nonprofit (Shore Up Marin City), where we are restoring a remnant wetland site in a disadvantaged community on the front lines of the impacts of climate change. By restoring this urban wetland in Marin City - an unincorporated, mostly minority community of Marin County – we will not only provide climate refugia for migrating birds across a diverse suite of habitats (subtidal, intertidal, upland), we will also reduce the impacts from sea level rise-mediated flood events (which already shut down a critical section of Highway 101 and cuts off Marin City’s access/egress for fire and emergency personnel). The restored site will provide habitat for birds, reduce flooding, and provide access to nature in a park-poor community.
  • Sonoma Creek Enhancement Project – in collaboration with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, we have improved the sea level rise resiliency of this centennial marsh by improving drainage on site (through the excavation of a central channel) and creating an upland-transition zone for marsh migration through the beneficial reuse of dredge material on site. This project directly facilitated the recently-approved update to the San Francisco Bay Plan by the Bay Conservation and Development Commission to facilitate other similar “fill for habitat” projects to adapt to climate change in the Bay.
  • Landscape-based Eelgrass Conservation – working with our geospatial science team, we are mapping impacts to priority eelgrass beds and creating a “habitat suitability model” to identify priority locations for eelgrass protection and restoration under current and future climate scenarios.  

 

Marine and Estuary 

Contact: Anna Weinstein, Anna.Weinstein@audubon.org , 415-644-4613

  • Estuary conservation - We are working to protect intertidal wetlands and eelgrass habitats in Humboldt and Tomales Bays – specifically addressing threats from poorly cited aquaculture projects – in order to maintain these habitats that are critically important in helping estuaries abate threats from sea level rise, ocean acidification, and storm surges.
  • Forage fish conservation – On October 10th, the CA Fish and Game Commission will adopt the first of its kind Herring Fisheries Management Plan –a plan that was spearheaded by Audubon and is the first fisheries plan that will adjust quota to project forage fish in the age of climate change by integrating environmental conditions to adjust harvest quota; we are working to ensure that the Anchovy fishery is Magnusun Act compliant and climate ready by setting harvest levels annually to biomass to ensure that stock is not overfished when climate is having impact on productivity
  • Marine bird monitoring – for the past 5+ years we have surveyed and built a database for Black Oystercatchers and Brown Pelicans – 2 marine species on the forefront of climate change, and specifically sea level rise and ocean acidification, to assess their current and future population trends and build baseline data to compare to future climatic conditions

 

Desert

Renewable Energy

Contact: Garry George, garry.george@audubon.org, (323) 933-6660

  • Influencing state climate policy and plans - We are participating as part of working groups and stakeholders that are advising the California Energy Commission, California Air Resources Board, California Public Utilities Commission who are tasked by the legislature to work cooperatively to produce a plan for implementation of SB100 to get California to 100% clean energy by 2045.  That plan has to be submitted to the legislature in two years.
  • We are providing comments on the California Energy Commission’s preparation of an Integrated Energy Policy Report. The IEPR, which is published every two years, sets the path and reasoning for the balance of energies that will be generated or purchased by California.
  • Renewable energy efforts - We are working on Offshore Wind in Humboldt and Central Coast, and more broadly all California waters for a programmatic look by the state of California on where offshore wind would be best developed with the “least conflicts” with wildlife.
  • We work on any solar, wind, geothermal or transmission project in California if it meets our criteria for engagement which is 1) in or adjacent to a priority Important Bird Area; 2) might have impacts on a Focal Species of Audubon; or 3) sets a precedent.

 

Salton Sea

Contact: Frank Ruiz, frank.ruiz@audubon.org, (760) 799-5140

  • Community and youth climate change education - We are launching a hiking initiative with college students and members of the faith based communities once a month and we will continue to use our high school education program “Eyes on the Sea” to bring awareness of public lands, native plants and birds issues arising due to climate changes. Through both of these efforts we are educating participants on climate change and actions they can take to protect birds and people.

 

Urban 

Richardson Bay Audubon Center

Contact: Casey Arndt, Casey.Arndt@audubon.org, (415) 388-2524

  • Climate-smart native plant garden and restoration - Volunteers and youth help cultivate and care for a variety of native plants in our on-site nursery. These plants are placed throughout the center’s grounds in pollinator gardens or brought to restoration projects where they help combat sea level rise.
  • Living shoreline restoration - Twice a month volunteer work groups participate in habitat restoration on Aramburu Island, a living shoreline project that also acts as a demonstration project for successful climate resilient restoration work in the Bay Area.
  • Audubon Youth Leaders – teens recruited from alternative high schools in Marin County – participate in hand-on restoration projects that enhance shoreline stability and therefore increase the shoreline’s climate resiliency.

 

Audubon Center at Debs Park

Contact: Marcos Trinidad, Marcos.Trinidad@audubon.org, (323) 221-2255

  • Native plant restoration days - Hosting 3 weekly opportunities for community members to propagate native plants for birds for our restoration projects. Hosting weekly restoration projects on the LA River
  • Climate advocacy trainings - Host monthly advocacy workshops that teach community members how to engage in local, state and federal policy to ensure climate change issues are being addressed.

 

Starr Ranch

Contact: Sandy DeSimone, Sandy.DeSimone@audubon.org, (949) 858-0309

  • Monitoring and collecting data on climate change impacts – We lead a group of community scientists across California participating in BirdSeasons CA. These community scientists, organized through five Audubon Chapters, are collecting monitoring data on plants and animals to track the impacts of climate change over time.  This work includes collecting information on phenology at Starr Ranch.
  • Climate-smart and carbon sequestration restoration – On Starr Ranch, we lead the protection, restoration and enhancement of coastal Sage Scrub habitat. This semiarid shrubland habitat type has the potential to sequester more carbon than tropical rainforests.

 

Statewide Policy

Contact: Mike Lynes, Michael.Lynes@audubon.org, (415) 505-9743

  • Audubon supported legislation to establish and extend California’s cap-and-trade program and renewable portfolio standard (RPS). We continue to support implementation through additional legislation and regulatory activities.
  • Increasing investments in Natural and Working Lands climate solutions. We continue to work on legislation to dedicate $400 million from the state’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund to natural and working land investments, which are necessary for California to achieve carbon-neutrality by 2045.  Prior successes have increased GGRF investments in California’s Healthy Soils initiative, urban greening, and wetlands. This included sponsoring and helping to pass AB 293 (Garcia) in 2019 to lead to development of emission offset protocols to increase investments in natural and working lands.
  • Improving California’s climate resiliency and adaptation programs. Audubon has sponsored and supported several pieces of legislation in recent years to increase climate resiliency, including expanding wildlife corridors, addressing ocean acidification, and funding coastal access and resiliency. Audubon is also actively engaged in the California Biodiversity Initiative, which seeks to maintain and enhance California’s biodiversity over the next several decades.  
  • Expanding responsible renewable energy development. Audubon’s policy team works with the Renewable Energy Team to expanding California’s renewable energy portfolio and the smart-siting of renewable projects to reduce impacts to wildlife and habitats. This includes ongoing negotiations and partnerships with the renewable energy developers, governmental agencies, and other conservation advocates.

How you can help, right now