Guest column: About Friends of the Seal Beach National Wildlife Refuge

Nearly 500 species of birds have been documented in the county. Courtesy photo

First in a series about Seal Beach’s refuge

Courtesy of Friends of the Seal Beach National Wildlife refuge

Friends of the Seal Beach National Wildlife Refuge is a volunteer, non-profit organization whose mission is to work alongside the US Fish & Wildlife Service in the preservation and restoration of our local refuge and to provide educational outreach to our community. Our 965-acre tidal salt marsh and upland habitat located on the Naval Weapons Station Seal Beach is home to the endangered “Ridgway” rail and the California Least Tern and many other migratory birds. Currently, most of our activities have been suspended; however, we continue to be active in our monthly online meetings and individual efforts to monitor federally endangered birds and their predators within the surrounding community.

Once restrictions have been eased due to our current health crisis, opportunities for volunteer service will resume. Refuge maintenance, native garden upkeep, trash pick-up on the refuge, bird and mammal surveys and other activities will continue. The refuge is a working laboratory for students, scientists and others seeking solutions in preserving wetlands and other wildlife sanctuaries.

Preservation of habitat is a necessity to ensure a healthy environment for wildlife living within Seal Beach and to maintain our ability to connect with a natural environment. One activity at which we continue to service is “Adopt a Highway.” Our volunteers can be seen working on Pacific Coast Highway which runs adjacent to the refuge. With more people visiting drive-thru eating establishments one noticeable result has been an increase of trash within our waterways and along roads. Among the more abundant discarded items are cigarette butts, face masks, plastic beverage containers and straws. In addition to creating a visually repulsive sight, discarded trash releases contaminants into the ocean and our refuge.

Please visit our website to learn more about our team and how you might consider becoming a Friend. This “urban” refuge is surrounded by millions of people and has the added challenge of surviving in an environment where mankind significantly affects its health. Your participation will contribute to the beauty of Seal Beach today and for future generations.