The Return of the Condor
In a major effort to restore the iconic California condor population, the National Park Foundation has teamed up with Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), the National Park Service, and the Yurok Tribe to build a facility and monitoring program that will allow condors to be released into Yurok ancestral territory, within Redwood National Park. The donation is part of the National Park Foundation’s $350 million Centennial Campaign for America’s National Parks.
“To see a condor in flight is breathtaking and thanks to our partners PG&E, the National Park Service, and the Yurok Tribe, people will be able to witness this wildlife at Redwood National Park in the near future,” said National Park Foundation President Will Shafroth. “We are proud to work with organizations that protect our national parks and the wildlife that call these places home.”
Due to a number of factors, including lead poisoning, the California condor was close to extinction in the 1980s, reaching an all-time low of 22 individuals. Over the last several decades, conservationists and scientists have committed themselves to saving the condor from extinction and reintroducing birds to the wild. As of December 2015, there are 435 condors both in the wild and in captivity. While this is good news, condors still face many environmental challenges.
“The park staff at Redwood National and State Parks is excited to work alongside the Yurok Tribe and our park neighbors to eventually return the iconic California condor to its historic range along the north coast,” said Redwood National Park superintendent Steven Prokop. “This cooperative effort is required to restore the ecological and cultural vitality of the coast redwood forests, and expand the range of California condors, key factors in the long-term survival of the species.”
In support of the recovery of this species, for the last decade the Yurok Tribe has spearheaded efforts to reintroduce condors in the Pacific Northwest, a region that North America’s largest bird has not occupied in more than a century. Exposing a new population of condors to the profuse biological diversity found in Redwood National Park and the surrounding area has a very real potential to aid in the soaring scavenger’s long-term recovery.
This project will allow condors to regain their foothold in their former northern California range and further strengthen the condor population overall.
The multiyear project includes:
- Construction of a condor release facility at a site in Redwood National Park.
- Development of a land owner GIS database for Humboldt, Mendocino, Del Norte, Trinity, and Siskiyou Counties in California, and Josephine and Curry Counties in Oregon.
- Design of a remote tracking and monitoring system to better understand flight and habitat patterns.
PG&E has been a long-time partner of the National Park Foundation, and will provide funding and support for this project. The energy company has previously invested more than $4 million dollars in its infrastructure in the Big Sur area to ensure that condor flight paths aren’t obstructed by power lines, allowing the birds to prosper in their natural habitat. “In our role as energy provider to millions of Californians, we’re committed to working in ways that protect the habitat for the majestic condors and all of our state’s wonderful diversity of species,” said PG&E Corporation Chairman and CEO Tony Earley.
The reestablishment of a condor population in far Northern California is especially important to members of the Yurok Tribe, which started the region’s first condor reintroduction effort. Condors, considered sacred by Yurok people, serve an important role in the tribe’s culture.
“The condor has played a major part in Yurok ceremonies and culture since time immemorial,” said Thomas P. O’Rourke Sr., Chairman of the Yurok Tribe. “It is through collaborative projects like this that we will bring balance back to our natural world.”
Public meetings for the proposed reintroduction of California condors in Redwood National Park will be held in January 2017 at the following dates and locations:
1/23 Sacramento, CA 6-8 pm Federal Building, 2800 Cottage Way, Sacramento
1/24 Eureka, CA 6-8 pm Wharfinger Building, 1 Marina Way, Eureka
1/25 Klamath, CA 10 am – 12 pm Klamath, CA
1/25 Medford, OR 6-8 pm Jackson County Auditorium, Central Point, OR
1/26 Portland, OR 6-8 pm Oregon Zoo, 4001 SW Canyon Road, Portland
ABOUT THE NATIONAL PARK FOUNDATION
The National Park Foundation is the official charity of America’s national parks and nonprofit partner to the National Park Service. Chartered by Congress in 1967, the National Park Foundation raises private funds to help PROTECT more than 84 million acres of national parks through critical conservation and preservation efforts, CONNECT all Americans with their incomparable natural landscapes, vibrant culture and rich history, and INSPIRE the next generation of park stewards. In 2016, commemorating the National Park Service’s 100th anniversary, the Foundation launched The Centennial Campaign for America’s National Parks, a $350 million comprehensive fundraising campaign to strengthen and enhance the future of these national treasures for the next hundred years. Find out more and become a part of the national park community at www.nationalparks.org.
ABOUT THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE
About the National Park Service. More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 413 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Visit us at www.nps.gov, on Facebook www.facebook.com/nationalparkservice, Twitter www.twitter.com/natlparkservice, and YouTube www.youtube.com/nationalparkservice.
ABOUT REDWOOD NATIONAL AND STATE PARKS
Redwood National and State Parks share in the perpetual stewardship of ancient coast redwood forests, streams, coastal ranges, and coastline; for the enjoyment, education and inspiration of people forever; with a commitment to watershed-scale restoration of damaged landscapes. The parks protect and manage more than 130,000 acres including nearly 35% of the world’s remaining old-growth coast redwood forests. For more information, please visit our website: www.nps.gov/redw, or visit us on one of our social media sites. We’re RedwoodNPS on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
ABOUT PACIFIC GAS AND ELECTRIC COMPANY
Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation (NYSE:PCG), is one of the largest combined natural gas and electric utilities in the United States. Based in San Francisco, with more than 20,000 employees, the company delivers some of the nation’s cleanest energy to nearly 16 million people in Northern and Central California. For more information, visit www.pge.com/ and www.pge.com/en/about/newsroom/index.page.
ABOUT THE YUROK TRIBE
With more than 6,000 members, the Yurok Tribe is the largest federally recognized tribe in California. For almost ten years, the Tribe has been working on the Yurok Condor Reintroduction Initiative, a long-term, collaborative effort to bring back the culturally and ecologically important birds to Yurok Ancestral Territory. The Tribe’s aboriginal lands occupy 500,000 acres in the core of the species’ historical range, which spanned from Baja Mexico to British Columbia at the time of first contact. The Tribe selected to pursue this monumental project because of the condor’s cardinal role in Tribal ceremonies. The combination of the condor and hummingbird is considered big medicine. From the beginning, the Tribe knew that collaboration would be the foundation of a successful condor reintroduction program and partnered early on with the National Park Service. The Yurok Tribe’s Condor Initiative includes many formal partners, such as Redwood National and State Parks, the National Park Foundation, PG&E and many others.