Rachel Cartwright, lecturer of biology and environmental science and resource management, and students from her Environmental Science and Resource Management 100 course recently were honored by the US Fish & Wildlife Service with an award recognizing their work to help protect and conserve Western Snowy Plovers and California Least Terns during the 2007 breeding season at Ormond Beach in Oxnard.
The students erected protective fences to enclose critical nesting habitat used by both species, and they also produced and posted interpretive signs in English and Spanish to inform beach goers of the reason the area was off limits during the summer. All of the measures proved effective. With a success rate of 79 percent, 41 California Least Tern chicks hatched out, and 35 fledged successfully. This was a vast improvement compared to other years. As recently as 2005, when the beach was unprotected, just two terns nested and none of their chicks survived. Data on Western Plovers is still being collated, but the officers with the US Fish & Wildlife Service were able to assure students that their efforts were making a tangible impact on the recovery of these two endangered species.