Tuesday, June 7, 2005

Summer '05 Field Season

Since the inception of the Hi Mountain Lookout Project 9 years ago,
Morro Coast Audubon Society has had a rewarding and successful
collaboration with several organizations and many hard working staff and
volunteers. The rehabilitation of an old abandoned fire lookout into a
functioning biological research station and interpretive visitor center
has been a source of great satisfaction and pride for all involved in
the project.
This upcoming 2005 summer field season marks our 4th season of field
operations and demonstrates the breadth of these collaborative efforts.
MCAS has funded the purchase of a heavy security gate and signage that
will be installed by the U.S. Forest Service, providing staff time and
labor. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s condor staff will be
providing our interns and volunteers onsite field training in radio
tracking, note taking, and condor nest watching at Hopper Mountain
National Wildlife Refuge in Ventura County. The Ventana Wilderness
Society (VWS) near the Big Sur Coast continues to provide condor
movement information through GPS (global positioning systems) tracking,
with exact location data relayed to satellites in earth orbit by
transmitters attached to the wings of free-flying condors. Other VWS
condors equipped with radio transmitters are tracked from Hi Mountain
Lookout as they occasionally fly north and south through SLO CO on their
long flights from Big Sur country to Hopper Mountain refuge, and back
again. Hi Mountain Lookout staff also radio track condors released at
Pinnacles National Monument, in cooperation with the National Park
Service. One more example of our collaborative efforts: Dr. Francis
Villablanca through the Biological Sciences Department at Cal Poly has
recently obtained funding to hire and supervise 5 student interns, who
will be working in shifts staffing Hi Mountain Lookout (along with our
volunteers) full-time this summer! The focus of this student internship
will be on conducting several biological research projects at Hi
Mountain, including California Condor radio tracking, studying
ecological community dynamics by surveying resident and nesting birds,
live-trapping small mammals, conducting vegetation sampling, and
analyzing Geographical Information Systems (GIS) information- in study
plots set up within chaparral, oak woodland and riparian habitats. All 5
of these college students will be speaking and giving power point talks
about their research methodologies and findings, presented to professors
and their student peers at Cal Poly, following their summer internship
experiences at Hi Mountain Lookout.
Learn more about the Lookout Project at www.condorlookout.org
Visit the lookout this summer, tour the facilities and visitor center,
and participate in condor radio tracking demonstrations.
New volunteers are encouraged to get involved. Please contact me in
advance to make arrangements for a visit.
Steve Schubert
MCAS Volunteer Coordinator,
Hi Mountain Condor Lookout Project