Areas of Cow-existence: Biodiversity of a Northern California Wetland & Grazing Land (2019 – $1,490)
Karlee Jewell – Northcoast Regional Land Trust
The Northcoast Regional Land Trust’s (NRLT) Freshwater Farms Reserve (FWFR) property is a rich community resource with public coastal access, education programs and events, sustainable agriculture, and ongoing habitat restoration. This property highlights that wild and working lands can be compatible and complimentary and provides an opportunity for people to connect to the land and its inhabitants. When people understand and care for their environment and wildlife, they are more likely to choose to protect and restore it. This study will implement a camera trap monitoring program at Freshwater Farms Reserve in order to foster a deeper understanding of the wild species that utilize FWFR. Monitoring data will be used in community outreach efforts and will contribute to a larger data collection effort through uploading observations to iNaturalist , an online social network of people sharing biodiversity information.
In 2005 and 2012, a total of 74 acres located along the lower Freshwater Creek Slough was acquired by the Northcoast Regional Land Trust (NRLT) with funding assistance provided by the State Coastal Conservancy (SCC) and thus “Freshwater Farms Reserve” emerged. Since 2010, over 50 acres of salt and freshwater marsh habitat have been actively restored while thoughtful agricultural management has enabled this reserve to become a prime example of mixed agriculture use and restored estuary and salt marsh habitat. In May 2016, the ¾ mile Freshwater Nature Trail was opened to the public which allows trail visitors to view and learn about the restored wetlands and watch the many birds of prey from the boardwalk. In addition to the many recreational opportunities offered on-trail, every year hundreds of students and learners of all ages participate in educational and stewardship programs at FWFR.
This study aims to collect high-quality scientific data that can be shared with community members to inspire conservation of the natural world and respect and passion for wildlife. By sharing photos and data of wildlife in areas that provide for public access, restoration, and agriculture we support the development of individuals’ personal relationship with the land and its inhabitants. When people understand and care for their environment and wildlife, they are more likely to choose to protect and restore it, a value of significance to conservation that cannot go understated. By uploading observational data to iNaturalist, the data collected through this study contributes to a larger collection of base line data. This data can be used to leverage future restoration work by demonstrating the ability of this property to provide vital habitat for wildlife.
A conservation grant from Sequoia Park Zoo will fund the project manager’s salary plus camera trap equipment for documenting wildlife use on Freshwater Farms Reserve, engaging community and sharing on iNaturalist.