Fifty-acres of tidelands in Bodega Harbor will stay a nexus for environmental research for at least another quarter century.
The land will remain, as it has since 1965, under the aegis of the Bodega Marine Reserve, one of 41 sites managed by the University of California. That's thanks to a deal announced last week between UC and Sonoma County.
Suzanne Olyarnic is director of the Bodega Marine Reserve, which includes the Bodega Marine Lab.
"I think its really important that the county is showing their commitment to sort of protecting a small sliver of the Bodega Harbor habitat for research and education."
She said the Gaffney Point site is home to important work. A scientist recently discovered twenty new species of ribbon worm there, and ongoing research monitors the number, behavior and seasonal arrival of migrating seabirds.
"As we learn more about these habitats and as we have more and more studies build on that knowledge we become, just this huge hub of knowledge of what the ecosystems are doing and what the populations are doing and we are tracking things over time and tracking things in the face of climate change and non-native species invasion and other things. To me it's very exciting that we have that commitment to keep going for another twenty-five years doing that."
Located near where a nuclear power station was once proposed, Olyarnic said the location is important both for understanding the natural world, and how species are coping with changes.
"We're set up to provide for university-level research, teaching and public service and also, we provide a lot of stewardship over the land. It's meant to provide protected lands that are specifically for research and education. Places where people can do long-term monitoring and long term studies, and also where they can have a safe place to put their expensive scientific instruments and other things."
The county's new agreement re-casts the UC's deal into a license. It had been considered a lease.