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In the Light of Evolution: Volume II—Biodiversity and Extinction
visitors were observed and 18,268 were approached by program staff for an “educational interaction.” During that time the staff witnessed 1,205 infractions of the city’s posted tidepool rules (Never pick up or remove animals, shells, or rocks; Do not pull animals off the rocks, or poke them with sticks; Walk gently, taking care not to step on plants or animals; Never turn over rocks). The study showed a low number (0–20) of infractions up to a certain level of visitation, but after the visitations exceeded about 250 people per day the number of infractions increased substantially. This suggested that at this population density the visitors become increasingly difficult to manage and that this particular beach had a visitor “carrying capacity” of about 250 per day, above which additional management techniques are required to prevent degradation of the resource.
Rescue and Restoration
The public is also engaged in biodiversity issues through animal rescue and habitat restoration programs. One of the most active animal rescue operations locally is the Pacific Marine Mammal Center in Laguna Beach (http://www.pacificmmc.org/), which was set up by Friends of the Sea Lion in 1971. Every year the staff and volunteers rescue between 150 and 200 marine mammals including California sea lions, harbor seals, and elephant seals and treat them for malnourishment, injuries, entanglement in fishing gear, and shellfish poisoning. Volunteers commit a total of over 25,000 hours per year to the program. The Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center in Huntington Beach (http://wwccoc.org/) also provides care and rehabilitation of native wildlife, with a capacity of 400 birds and mammals.
Many habitat areas in Orange County have suffered from years of overgrazing, spreading of invasive plants, and other forms of damage, and these areas are now being restored in volunteer efforts by many different organizations. These include ROOTS: A Community-Based Restoration and Education Program for Upper Newport Bay sponsored by the California Coastal Commission (Yurko, 2007). Volunteer duties include plant installation, invasive plant removal, site maintenance, site monitoring, native seed collection and propagation, administration, and educational efforts including school field trips and teacher workshops. Since 2002, 8,300 volunteers have participated, totaling 23,500 volunteer hours, and there are nine current restoration sites covering approximately 12 acres. A similar effort is Second Sundays (Naegele, 2007), managed by Orange County Parks, involving County staff and volunteers on over 5 acres of land, involving 2,200 volunteer hours during the first 7 months of 2007. A local nonprofit organization, Back to Natives (http://www.backtonatives.org/), also manages volunteer restoration programs. The Orange County