Volunteers clear habitat for endangered bird in Mission Bay Park

Mariner's Point is integral to their survival

SAN DIEGO - About 100 San Diego Gas & Electric employees, students and members of the San Diego Audubon Society Saturday are expected to clear out a habitat for the endangered California Least Tern at Mariner's Point in Mission Bay Park.

The San Diego Audubon Society will host the event and its volunteers and staffers will work with SDG&E personnel and Point Loma Nazarene University students to clear the area of invasive non-native plants and to remove debris from the coastal habitat the birds depend on during its breeding season, which is typically from mid-April to August, officials said.

"The Mariner's Point nesting site is one of the most productive breeding grounds for California Least Terns in Mission Bay, and their success here is integral to their survival," San Diego Audubon Conservation Program Manager Rebecca Schwartz said.

Mission Bay hosts more than 5,000 migratory water birds and shore birds, which includes nine sensitive bird species. The National Audubon Society and BirdLife International designated Mission Bay as a Globally Important Bird Area.

San Diego Audubon has led the maintenance of Mariner's Point in conjunction with the City of San Diego during the California Least Tern's breeding season for nearly 25 years.

"Volunteers with San Diego Audubon last year contributed over 1,200 hours to helping to manage 37 acres of bird nesting habitat throughout Mission Bay Park," Schwartz said.

SDG&E employees enrolled in the Environmental All-Stars program volunteered to help protect and restore the environment. Officials said the staffers would provide much needed manpower to ready the nesting area.

"This will be our third annual opportunity for our employees to be engaged with local endangered species conservation," Pedro Villegas, SDG&E's director of community relations, said. "The partnership with San Diego Audubon benefits birds, and is a popular way for our employees to support the environment and their community."

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