The proposed Alameda National Wildlife Reseve, located at the western end of Alameda, is home to the endangered California Least Tern’s northernmost—and one of the species’ most critical—nesting colonies. Each spring, nearly 800 California Least Terns make their annual migration from Mexico and Central America to the refuge site at the former Alameda Naval Air Station. And each year, Golden Gate Audubon volunteers prepare the terns’ nesting ground by removing invasive plants and building shelters and barriers to protect chicks from predators. With Golden Gate Audubon’s help, the tern colony at the old naval base has grown from 10 nests in 1976 to 440 in 2004, producing the second highest number of Least Tern fledglings of any nesting colony in the state.
Nearby, as many as 3,000 endangered California Brown Pelicans have roosted on an island breakwater, which is also used by resting harbor seals. More than 138 avian species, including Peregrine Falcons, frequent the site.
The Alameda site is a wildlife treasure that provides vital habitat to a great diversity of species. Once formally designated as a wildlife refuge, it will provide an unprecedented opportunity for nature recreation and environmental education in an urban area.
Golden Gate Audubon is working to have 575 acres and 390 acres of adjacent bay waters transferred from the U.S. Navy to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) to create the Alameda National Wildlife Reserve. The transfer has been delayed by conflicts over cleanup of contaminants on the site. Until this transfer takes place, public access to the proposed refuge is restricted to special events. And the fate of the refuge itself remains clouded. Additional threats include:
- Predation of adult Least Terns and their chicks and eggs
- Invasive vegetation on the nesting site, diminishing Least Tern habitat value
- Boating and other human activities that disturb sensitive wildlife
- Achieve transfer of land from the U.S. Navy to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to create the Alameda National Wildlife Reserve
- Accomplishing appropriate cleanup of the reserve grounds
- Maintain the refuge as a key nesting habitat for Least Terns
- Work with USFWS to develop public access and education programs, once the national wildlife reserve is established.
What You Can Do
- Contact our Friends of the Alameda Wildlife Reserve Committee to find out how you can help establish the national refuge and protect wildlife at the site.
- Join our volunteer cleanup days at the refuge.
- Staff a table at public events to help inform the community about the refuge and the opportunities it offers once the transfer takes place.
See and hear the terns at Alameda Point in the following seven-minute documentary created by Alameda resident Richard Bangert.
Scientific Symposium on Alameda Point Wildlife and Natural Resources
In 1994, Golden Gate Audubon and the College of Alameda co-sponsored a scientific symposium on the natural resources of the Alameda Naval Air Station site. You can read proceedings of the symposium in the following two PDF files.