I’m fortunate to have a national seashore nearly on my doorstep. A short drive and I can be kayaking on the glistening waters of Tomales Bay. A little farther and I am hiking tree lined trails that give way to secluded beaches pounded by the Pacific surf. If I feel like driving yet further, I find myself cruising through rolling hills on roads that dead end at beaches and miles upon miles of trail.
I went on one of those longer drives on Thursday that I might document a large restoration project going on around Abbotts Lagoon, a largely freshwater estuary that is home to many varieties of native plants and animals… and a few non-native ones. That is actually what the restoration is focusing on, the large scale removal of non-native European beach grass (Ammophila arenaria), which will allow the dunes to create a more natural shape, and for some endangered endemics to survive.
This was the first of what I hope will be many visits. The scale of the project is fantastic, and in just a few weeks has already created a noticeable difference. Cleaned dunes of sand are surrounded by others that are still grass covered masses that have lost their ability to change and to move. The tracks of the dozers cut through them but are fading from the first dunes to be transformed, and are now wind rippled. Very fun to see.
It’s truly a remarkable area. The Pacific Ocean pounding the beach on one side of the dunes, Abbotts Lagoon nestled into the hills on the other. In a few weeks the Snowy Plovers will be nesting on the beach (which will become more restricted,) but meanwhile there are cormorants, grebes, egrets, herons, and myriad ducks to watch in the waters of the lagoon. Northern Harriers glide low, hunting the lupins and the scrub… every where are rabbit and mouse tracks. Beautiful and relaxing.
I often try to work with my parks on projects like this, whether it is something I will be paid for or not. First, I like to support my parks. In this age of shrinking budgets, it’s good for people to be reminded of the beautiful natural legacy that they are custodians of, and their importance for future generations. The state of our parks one hundred years from now will be part of our cultural heritage.
This is a great way to get connections, especially if you will be doing nature and outdoor photography. Parks hire naturalists, geologists, biologists… the sort of people that publish field guides and scientific journals. People who might need images someday.
Finally, it means I am working with like minded people, folks that share my appreciation for the outdoors and their importance.
I am including a short slideshow, giving just a taste of what is to be found out there.