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Ocean Beach Dunes Home To Endangered Species

Rare Coastal Habitat In San Diego

Audio

Aired 7/19/10

San Diego is home to one of the few remaining coastal dune habitats in California. The area is also a key nesting area for an endangered bird.

San Diego is home to one of the few remaining coastal dune habitats in California.The area is also a key nesting area for an endangered bird.

The sand dunes in Ocean Beach are a key nesting area for the California Least Tern, an endangered bird.
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Above: The sand dunes in Ocean Beach are a key nesting area for the California Least Tern, an endangered bird.

The rare jewel can be found in the midst of Ocean Beach.

Rob Hutsel is the executive director of the San Diego River Park Foundation, which is involved in helping to protect the coastal dune habitat in Ocean Beach.
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Above: Rob Hutsel is the executive director of the San Diego River Park Foundation, which is involved in helping to protect the coastal dune habitat in Ocean Beach.

"We're at the river mouth of the San Diego River and this is the area where the river enters the ocean, right at Dog Beach," explained Rob Hutsel, executive director of the San Diego River Park Foundation.

Including the marsh, which runs into the dunes themselves, the area is about 15 acres.

Hutsel said the site is home to rare plants and the endangered California Least Tern.

"And it's often a place where the birds will come and nest," said Hutsel. "There's just a few hundred pairs left in the world, believe it or not. So it's really special for that. In addition, we've found populations of the nettles lotus, which is a little tiny flower. I call them belly-flowers, you have to get down on your belly to see them, but it's one of those plants that there's just, again, a few left and we're trying to protect them here."

The Least Tern nesting site is now protected by a fence to keep dogs and other predators from harming the birds.

Hutsel said volunteers will be working July 24, from 9am until noon, removing non-native vegetation, trash and maintaining trails. Tools, gloves and a free breakfast are provided.

Before the volunteers begin, Hutsel said trained botanists and docents will lead an interpretive tour of the Ocean Beach site.

He said people are welcome to join the tour even if they can't help with the maintenance effort.

Volunteers will meet at 9am on Saturday, July 24, 2010 at the grassy area just inside the Dog Beach parking lot. For questions or more information on volunteering, call the River Park Foundation office at (619) 297-7380 or email volunteer@sandiegoriver.org.

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