Mountain View Voice

Opinion - October 8, 2010

City doing good job on owls, Audubon says

by Shani Kleinhaus

Mayor Ronit Bryant, the City Council and city staff have demonstrated a sincere commitment to preserve burrowing owls at Shoreline by dedicating resources to update the existing burrowing owl management plan" and converting it to an owl preservation plan.

On behalf of the Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society, I want to thank the council for this effort and their recognition of the inherent value of preserving the remaining population of burrowing owls of Shoreline. It is apparent that the council members appreciate the contribution the owls make to the richness of their city and its environment.

The city is also working to plan and install burrowing owl habitat within the Shoreline golf course area. Recently, city staff members have engaged Audubon Society volunteers to protect the owls and to monitor bird populations within the park. The city staff continues to work with us to plan and design improved foraging and nesting habitat at Shoreline for the owls.

At the Audubon Society, I have worked to find additional resources to support these efforts, and have been granted a TogetherGreen fellowship to promote the participation of volunteers in burrowing owl conservation activities at Shoreline. TogetherGreen is a partnership between Toyota and Audubon that funds and supports innovative conservation projects, leadership development and volunteerism to engage people in land, water, and energy conservation.

As the Sept. 24 Voice story warns, burrowing owl populations of Santa Clara County are on the brink of extinction. This trend is not unique to our county; over the last 20 years, burrowing owls have disappeared from most of the Bay Area and virtually all California coastal counties. Even the largest populations, in California's Imperial Valley, are rapidly declining due to destruction of their native habitat and to changes in land use patterns. We hope that other cities in Santa Clara County and beyond will soon follow the leadership of Mountain View to proactively dedicate land and maintain nesting and foraging habitat to promote burrowing owl survival.

Shani Kleinhaus is environmental advocate for the Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society

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