I had an internship recently with the Bolsa Chica Conservancy, and it created some of the best highlights of that summer. It's an incredibly fun and relaxing area to be in, and is home to so many plants and animals that you can't find in such abundance anywhere else in Huntington Beach or other surrounding cities. I loved being able to learn about the wildlife, and the staff inspired a newfound love of botany and bird watching in me! In all, it's a wonderful place.
The Bolsa Chica Conservancy is a nonprofit organization concerned with the well being of our coastal ecology in general and the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve in particular. The tidal saltmarsh and surrounding areas are deceptively serene but extremely important to the environmental health of our community. Throughout the year it provides essential shelter and food sources for literally hundreds of bird and marine species. Native vegetation is protected but people are welcome to visit on non-intrusive trails and a wonderful walkbridge over the inner bay.
The Conservancy works to improve habitat, enlighten the public and provide STEAM based instruction from elementary to college level students. I am proud to be a volunteer, docent, financial supporter and all round booster for this excellent work. You'll like it too. Check it out at: https://bolsachica.org
Supporting the mission of the Bolsa Chica Conservancy is important to me. Based out of cramped little interpretive center the BCC Marshall's thousands of volunteers to do great environmental work for the wetlands, they provide great science based education for thousands of young people both at the center and via their Windows on the Wetlands van program. I encourage supporting the BCC with regular financial contributions.
As BCC board member and professor who sends students to work with BCC as volunteers, I can't speak highly enough about this non-profit. Their staff are always willing to help students, to speak with the public about wetlands and science, and to train the next generation of environmental stewards. BCC is helping to conserve a vital ecosystem as well as to help others understand how important our wetlands are.
I am writing today to share an experience with you that, in part, occurred at the Bolsa Chica Wetlands.
Ten years ago I received the phone call that no parent should ever have to know. I lost a daughter. She was taken without a moment to even tell her I loved her and say goodbye. I was shaken to my core and lost much of my belief in those things that I had loosely held to be truths. I withdrew, and began a spiritual journey to try to better understand what I called at the time, “just exactly what is really going on here”.
I spent much of my time walking. Hiking had become, and still is, a pathway into nature where I have found truth, pure and simple, in abundance. Much of what and where I have traveled requires time to get there. In those times when I had only hours to spare I found myself pulled toward Bolsa Chica. I spent many, many days walking the trails at Bolsa. The quiet of the trails in early morn were soothing. The scent of sage broken between my fingers, in it’s mint green winter growth was healing to my injured soul. I found I had an interest in the many species of birds that made Bolsa home and also those that depend on Bolsa Chica as a stop over to rest and refurbish as they migrate through on their way to winter and summer range. I bought a pair of binoculars and discovered the intricate beauty of their creation. The birds and ducks that make Bolsa Chica home are so intimately detailed and beautiful they began to fill my heart, even in the smallest way, with truth. I studied the boards that were in place up on the Mesa to understand early Native American life at the Bolsa. Each time I went to Bolsa Chica I made a point to find and commit to memory, several of the birds that were identified on the boards. In this way I learned the multitude of the Creator’s work. I began to visit frequently and in all hours. I marveled at the way the pipers fly altogether as one composite unit. The sound of the air that rushes under their wings as they fly in unison up and over me was medicine. The return of the fall migrants was reassuring in that they return time and time again, as if on nature’s clock. Reliable, steady, dependable...beautiful.
There was never a time when visiting, I was not surprised or rewarded in some special way for coming out. I recall being there on Christmas Day. Nearly every bird I knew of was there that day. There were Reddish Egrets, Great Blue Herons, Ibises, Avocets, Black Neck Stilts, and Greater Yellowlegs in the marsh. I saw Peregrine Falcons, Turkey Vultures, and Red-tailed Hawks sailing the heights. There were many ducks including Northern Shovelers, Pintails, Green-winged Teals, Ruddys with their upturned tails, Mergansers fishing the culverts, Buffleheads, and Scaups. I saw a Wood Pecker, Hummingbirds, Pelicans, a Kingfisher, White-crowned Sparrows, and Black Crowned Herons. They were resplendent in their variety and numbers. There was simple and yet magdi cent truth in everything about them.
As time passed I spent more and more of my free time at Bolsa Chica. I knew and felt it’s healing of the human soul. I felt akin to the land, to the wildlife, to the water and the flora. I wanted to give back for everything Bolsa had given me so I attended evening classes and became a docent. I gave tours to bus loads of students and teachers from surrounding communities. These people helped restore my faith in humanity. I gained confidence in a greater Universe. I learned truth from all of it. Truth... that nature heals. That God, not the devil, is in the details. That we as humans, need Bolsa Chica as much as all life that resides there. Bolsa Chica helped reshape me and it did it simply by presenting itself as what it is . A place of sanctuary, healing, restoration, and beauty.
As a young boy I traveled south on PCH to ride the crispy Curls in Thr HB cliffs area.
At that moment in time ( summer of 72)
Boating And water skiing was allowed
Crazy, I know
Since the conservatory took over
The flora and the fauna are free of the encroachment and the pollution that these recreational vehicles left in their wake
I volunteered at Bolsa Chica during high school, and after graduating I was a restoration intern over the summer of 2019. I enjoyed volunteering for the conservancy and it make me realize that conversation is the perfect career for me!! Working as the restoration intern has taught me a ton about ecology and it has made me an expert at identity native and invasive plants, and the working of tidal salt marshes. The conservancy works tirelessly to maintain one of the last remaining tidal wet lands in Southern California! It is home to many endangered species (like the Ridgeway’s Rail and the southern tar plant). It also is my favorite birding hot spot!
My wife and I spent a wonderful day walking the conservancy for about 3 hours in the morning. We were able wonder at our own pace, which was good because it was my wife's first time to experience the sight. There was as always plenty to take in and photography. We did not get everything in that day, so I promised to take her back when we have time and start from the other side. where the bridge is located and work our way back. The informational boards were great to see and gather information about the area history, the bird and land details that gave us insight to put it all together. Thank you, we will be back.