A road trip behind the “Redwood Curtain”

At 5am last Tuesday morning Becky, Kyra, Tim, Chris and I piled into our van for a road trip. We were headed behind California’s “Redwood Curtain” to visit the Network’s two northern-most members: Humboldt State University’s Marine Wildlife Care Center in Arcata and the Northcoast Marine Mammal Center in Crescent City.

A view of the stormy Pacific

Six hours (and several bursts of rain, sleet, hail, and snow) later, we arrived in Arcata. Rick Golightly, Facility Director, and Tamar Danufsky, Facility Coordinator, met us to give a tour of the Humboldt State University center. Tim, who has worked during multiple spills in the area, is the only one of our group who had visited the facility before. The building was originally designed for much smaller responses than the large-scale responses that occurred in the 1990’s. Rick, Tamar, and Tim described the innovative ways in which the capacity for birds and people was expanded during the Kure (1997) and Stuyvesant (1999) events to enable the best possible care of the affected wildlife. We also discussed plans for upcoming expansion of the building to improve the flow of people and animals through the center and to create more space for intake. To complete our tour, Rick and Tamar took us around Humboldt Bay to orient us to important beaches, wetlands, wildlife concentrations, and boat launch sites in the area.

A Roosevelt elk grazing along Highway 101

The following day, we headed up the coast to Crescent City. The Northcoast Marine Mammal Center is in the process of major facility renovations. With the busy spring season just around the corner, the construction team is working hard to beat the clock. Among the list of improvements are a new roof, new pools, improved outdoor pens, and an enlarged necropsy room. Janet Dickey, the Center’s OWCN Coordinator, gave us a tour and discussed the center’s readiness for oil spill response.

As I visit more of the Network’s facilities throughout the state, I am continually impressed by the dedication of staff and volunteers to ensure that we are ready to respond at all times. Thank you to Rick, Tamar, and Janet for all of your efforts!

– Emily

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