Saving the Season

snowy plovers

Protecting the snowy plovers at Coal Oil Point Reserve while they nest is an ever-changing exercise in creative conservation

Conservation requires a certain type of heroics: research to identify and develop solutions, and the resources to put them into place. And sometimes it’s a matter of being quick on one’s feet — quite literally.

Case in point: Cristina Sandoval, longtime director of UC Santa Barbara’s Coal Oil Point Reserve.

In her devoted and valiant efforts to recover the snowy plover, a diminutive shorebird once threatened on the Pacific Coast that nests each year on the reserve, Sandoval has employed every strategy there is — and created some new ones. Such as racing more than a dozen plover eggs to safety, in the dark of night, while cradling them in her own two hands.

The waves at the reserve were massive in July, unusual for the time of year. When huge breakers were crashing on the beach during high tide late one evening, the water reached — and rushed into — the plover nests nearby. From her home on the reserve, Sandoval saw it unfolding before her eyes; she dropped her dinner plate and ran. Read the full article


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