Teaching the Next Generation of Wildlife Advocates

Birds in a changing world need young minds with fresh ideas from all walks of life to learn, appreciate, and advocate for wildlife. To help, Bird Rescue is excited to launch a new education program that aims to connect students with the beauty around them in greater Solano County.

Introducing the Cordelia Slough Youth Education Program

The Cordelia Slough is part of the Pacific Flyway, a superhighway for migratory birds. The Pacific Flyway Fund awarded International Bird Rescue 40 acres of stunning riparian and marsh habitat to bring wildlife and environmental literacy to the next generation of advocates for nature.

Our Program

Students will be led on a Nature walk by an experienced International Bird Rescue docent to discuss and identify the ecosystems and biology surrounding the Cordelia Slough.

The nature walk will focus on the diversity of plants, invertebrates, and vertebrate species that contribute to the ecosystems surrounding the Cordelia Slough such as wetlands and riparian areas. At various stops, students will learn about a plant, insect, bird or mammal species that makes its home in these two habitats. In addition, we will share lessons around ecosystems, anatomy, invasive and introduced species, wildlife conservation and more!

We look forward to working with you and your classroom and hope that you will consider us for outdoor learning and educational opportunities in the upcoming school year.

Visit their website for more information »

Pacific Flyway in Fairfield Holds Groundbreaking

On June 17, the Pacific Flyway held its groundbreaking where it will bring walking trails, an education center and preserve marshlands. The project sits in 845-acre wetland.

Located in Fairfield in the Suisun Marsh, this project has been in the works for a decade. The project was able to move forward after a provisional permit was granted in February.

According to Veronica Cornett, in July, grading will begin on the project and estimated to be completed by October and in spring they will begin the trails and parking lot.

Groundbreaking — what they said

Congressman Mike Thompson said he was happy to see this project come closer to fruition after known Ken Hofmann and personally knew his dedication to wetlands and waterfowl.

“He wanted to make sure everyone understood how important wetlands are and wanted to make sure that every kid in California understood it and knew the advantages that we all gain from a good healthy environment and good healthy wetlands where ducks and other waterfowl and other birds like to hang out,” stated Thompson.

He called the groundbreaking “very important” and could not wait for the trails in the wetlands to be completed to allow everyone to see the benefit.

State Senator Bill Dodd said this project was presented to him 8-years ago and called it an amazing amount of work put into this project by Claude Grillo to get private and public funding to make this vision a reality.

Fairfield Mayor Catherine Moy said many people have worked for years on this project.

“It’s a remarkable day for my hometown to commemorate the groundbreaking of the Flyway Center and this momentous occasion signifies the realization of a vision dear to the heart of the late Ken Hofman,” stated Moy. “It is with great pride and joy that we witness this dream become a reality.”

She said with the Flyway Center, Fairfield will make its way to the global stage and a sanctuary for wildlife. She also thanked everyone for making this project a reality.

Kris Corey, Fairfield Suisun School District Superintendent called this another way to expand opportunities for youth with field trips, education and future careers.

“We see this as expansion and growth for our students,” said Corey. “Our students love experienced learning… its about making those life long lasting impressions on our youth and future families for many years to come.”

Campbell Ingram of the San Joaquin Delta Conservancy, called it a great project to get kids out into the area to experience nature and conversation.

Claude Grillo, vice president and board member, said so many people believe in this and provided an overview on how they looked at multiple locations, land swaps and were able to finally get the property to bring the project to reality.

“I couldn’t have done it without everyone here,” said Grillo. “I believe in what we are doing here.”

Read More of this Article at ContraCosta.news »

Cordelia fifth-graders venture into sights, sounds of Suisun Marsh

By Daily Republic Staff

FAIRFIELD — This was not Samrya Lima’s first nature walk.

In fact, much of what she heard during Thursday’s walk into the Suisun Marsh – at the 55-acre site of the future Pacific Flyway Center – she had learned before, but it was nice to get out into the world of birds, beavers and crawly things just the same.

“I like to be out in the wildlife,” said Lima, 11, a fifth-grader at Nelda Mundy Elementary School.

Various Nelda Mundy fifth-graders were guided through a mile-long nature walk, with various learning stops, by volunteers from the International Bird Rescue.

Some of the students went out on Tuesday, others on Wednesday and the final group on Thursday.

Lisa Seto, a self-described “bird nerd,” was one of those volunteer docents on Thursday, which is why she got so excited when a barn owl graced the sky in front of the students as they were walking to the nesting site of a pair of great-horned owls.

“That’s my favorite owl,” she hooted.

Hummingbirds and various song birds, as well as a circling hawk, also paid the students a visit.

But the nocturnal, orange-toothed rodents that built a dam and pond area, were nowhere in sight under the bright, warming blue sky above the marsh area.

However, the students were able to see evidence of a tunnel system the beaver had built as well.

Other learning topics included the anatomy of feathers, the importance of protecting the natural habitat – including a “trash your trash” discussion – and a lesson or two about the International Bird Rescue.

The students also were given information about the Suisun Marsh, including its natural and human histories.

“We mentioned the Patwin Tribe to the students. This land used be the Patwin Tribe’s, and we taught them how important this land is to the Patwin Tribe and that there are still Patwin people alive today,” said Devin Bergeles, projects specialist for International Bird Rescue.

This was the first year for the Cordelia School Education Program. It was born out of other site activities by the rescue group, including the release of rehabilitated birds that have been in its care.

JD Bergeron, chief executive officer for the rescue organization, sits on a planning committee for the Flyway Center.

The annual winter bird count also is conducted on the property, but not just the 55-acre Gold Hill site, but the entire 900 acres owned by the Pacific Flyway Foundation, and the whole of the Suisun Marsh for that matter.

The Audubon Society of Napa-Solano also takes bird-watching trips. There have been 93 species of birds identified on the property, the most recent being an American bittern.

The Suisun Marsh, at 116,000 acres, is the largest brackish marsh on the West Coast.

It is part of the Pacific Flyway, a north-south migratory path that extends 10,000 nautical miles from Alaska to Patagonia. Billions of birds fly all or parts of the route each year, including more than 6 million waterfowl in California.

And that is what attracted Ken Hofmann, the former owner of the Oakland A’s who had land interests in the marsh and a vision for the $75 million Pacific Flyway Center to be centrally located in the flyway.

And that it where it will be, east of Interstate 680, south of the Gold Hill Road overcrossing and adjacent to Ramsey Road. It will be within about an hour of where more than 10 million people live.

It will include a miles-long Walk in the Marsh, with interpretive displays and “viewing hides,” and a 28,000-square-foot Education Center. A kayak launch area will offer opportunities to experience the marsh from the water.

It will be built out in phases, with the Marsh Walk and habitat restoration first on that list.

Area officials believe the center will be a major tourist destination. The U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife has reported there are more than 50 million birdwatchers in the U.S. alone.

Veronica Cornett, a Pacific Flyway Center project staff member who was out on the school event, said the project representatives just held their final permitting meetings with Fairfield and the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission.

Cornett said the conservation permit from the BCDC, which allows the work in the marsh, is expected to be in hand by June 1, and the grading permit from the city should be approved by June 15.

Work on the three pond areas should begin near the end of June, Cornett said.

A groundbreaking ceremony is being planned.

Unfortunately, Hofmann will not see what is now being fashioned as a legacy project. He died in April 2018.

Read More of this Article in the Daily Republic »

Flyway Center gains key permits, eyes groundwork in coming months

FAIRFIELD — Organizers behind the proposed Pacific Flyway Center reported Wednesday that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has issued a provisional permit for the initial phase of the $75 million ecological and educational preserve in the Suisun Marsh.

The Pacific Flyway Fund has filed for grading and building permits from the city, and has applied for its Regional Water Quality Control Board permit. Project representatives were scheduled to meet this week with state officials.

There are still other permits in the works, including with the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission.

A black-necked stilt stands near the Goodyear Slough in Benicia, Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023. (Aaron Rosenblatt/Daily Republic)

Once the water board permit is in hand, the Army Corps of Engineers permit is finalized and work at the site can begin, Claude Grillo, vice president of the Pacific Flyway Fund, the nonprofit heading the project, said in a phone interview that included Veronica Cornett, who described herself as a volunteer naturalist.

Grillo said the organization has the $5 million needed for the first phase, which is divided into two parts. Part of that funding is a $1.47 million grant from the Delta Conservancy, which will go toward the boardwalk and other aspects of the 24-acre “Walk in the Marsh” element of the Flyway Center property.

The “Walk in the Marsh” is described in city documents as a “network of looping trails, paths and boardwalks.”

“Visitors will be able to walk . . . into the wetlands on paths on which there are plans to develop interpretive displays and ‘viewing hides,’ ” the project website states. “A kayak launch area will offer opportunities for visitors who want to experience nature from the water.”

Read More of this Article in the Daily Republic »