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Wildlife experts argue against the plan to destroy the Corte Madera Inn pond habitat

John P. Kelly, PhD, and Scott Jennings, two of the foremost experts on Black-crowned Night Herons in California, have submitted the following comment to the Town of Corte Madera, arguing against their pending approval of a plan to destroy the pond and the roosting habitat at the Corte Madera Inn. To date, the Town planners have continued to assist and align themselves with the developer, who has refused for over two years to even consider any reasonable alternatives to their plans.

Adam Wolff, Director of Planning

Town of Corte Madera Company

300 Tamalpais Drive Corte Madera, CA 94925

RE: Recirculated Draft EIR for the Corte Madera Inn Rebuild Project

Dear Mr. Wolff,

ACR [Audubon Canyon Ranch] owns and manages a system of wildlife sanctuaries in Marin and Sonoma counties. Since the early 1970's, we have conducted scientific research to help ensure the long-term protection of San Francisco Bay area wetlands. We have published numerous scientific articles on the ecology and conservation of herons and egrets ( ), including an annotated atlas of heron and egret nesting colonies in the San Francisco Bay area (Kelly et al. 2006; ).

As noted in the RDEIR, the proposed development of the Best Western Corte Madera Inn would eliminate the Black-crowned Night-Heron roost site and the associated pond habitat. ACR is concerned that the proposed development would reduce the regional availability of suitable habitat needed to sustain the number of Black-crowned Night-Herons that occupy central San Francisco Bay. The night-herons are a resident, colonially nesting species that depends on the protection of remnant wetlands and roost sites near the Bay shoreline such as the area considered in this proposal. We offer the following responses to the RDEIR.

We urge you require full protection of the valuable wetland habitat and pond area used by Black-crowned Night-Herons behind the Corte Madera Inn. Thank you for considering this comment.


John P. Kelly, PhD - Director of Conservation Science

Scott Jennings - Avian Ecologist

References cited

Beauchamp, G., 1999. The evolution of communal roosting in birds: origin and secondary losses. Behavioral Ecology 10:675-687.

Condeso, E. 2013. Life on the edge: The status of Black-crowned Night-Herons in the northern San Francisco Bay area. Audubon Canyon Ranch. The Ardeid 2013:4-5. [ ]

Hothem, R. L., B. E. Brussee, and W. E. Davis, Jr. 2010. Black-crowned Night-Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology. []

Kelly, J.P., Etienne, Katie, Strong, Cheryl, McCaustland, Mark and Parkes, M.L., 2006. Annotated atlas and implications for the conservation of heron and egret nesting colonies in the San Francisco Bay area. Audubon Canyon Ranch, Stinson Beach, CA, 94940.

Kelly, J. P., K. L. Etienne, C. Strong, M. McCaustland, and M. L. Parkes. 2007. Status, trends, and implications for the conservation of heron and egret nesting colonies in the San Francisco Bay area. Waterbirds 30: 455-478.

Kelly, J. P, and C. Robinson-Nilson. 2011. Tidal marsh herons and egrets. Pages 14-15 in M. Pitkin and J. Wood (eds.), The State of the Birds, San Francisco Bay. PRBO Conservation Science and the San Francisco Bay Joint Venture.

Kushlan, J. A., and J. A. Hancock. 2005. The Herons. Oxford University Press, New York.

Mikuska, T., Kushlan, J.A. and Hartley, S., 1998. Key areas for wintering North American herons. Colonial Waterbirds, pp.125-134.

Perlmutter, G. B. 1992. Environmental factors influencing roost arrival of Black-crowned Night-Herons J. Field Ornithology 63:462-465.

Vander Zanden, M .J., J.D. Olden, and C. Gratton. 2006. Food-web approaches in restoration ecology. Pp. 165-189, in D.A. Falk, M.A. Palmer, and J.B. Zedler (eds.) Foundations of Restoration Ecology. Island Press, Washington, D.C.