January 29, 2013
According to Nichole Andler, the Chief of Interpretation at Pinnacles National Park, zealous rock climbers and nesting birds are two things that just shouldn’t mix.
Located an hour's drive east of Carmel Valley, the newly promoted Pinnacles National Monument is a rock climbing and hiking hotspot. It is also home to some of California’s most charismatic endangered and threatened birds.
“Peregrine falcons nest here,” Andler says. “And condors may nest here. We also have a really high concentration of prairie falcons here at Pinnacles.”
Peregrine falcons, once nearly decimated by DDT, have made a strong comeback in Central California. Pinnacles continues to offer refuge to these magnificent birds, as well as to their more desperate cousins, the California condors, whose populations remain low. Prairie falcons (pictured above, photo courtesy National Park Service) are not currently endangered, but they are suffering from habitat loss.
In order to protect these birds and other raptors during the nesting season, Pinnacles publishes an annual Advisory Handout. This handout lists all the locations where birds are nesting throughout the park, and asks that climbers and off-trail hikers avoid the areas.
“We don’t want people to disturb [the birds] while they’re trying to raise their young,” says Andler. “We don’t want abandoned nests.”
The handout is updated throughout the spring, and Andler says it’s very effective: “We want to educate the public so that they understand why we make the decisions we make. When you provide the public with information, they make informed decisions. They help to protect their park.”