By Jennie MacFarland, Arizona IBA Conservation Biologist
The very first training workshop for volunteer IBA surveyors in Yuma was held February 15, 2012. The recent interest from the members of the Yuma Audubon Society to become IBA surveyors was especially exciting as there are several IBAs right in their area that need surveying. Both Tice Supplee, Director of Bird Conservation at Audubon Arizona and Jennie MacFarland, AZ IBA Coordinating Biologist at Tucson Audubon Society made the journey to Yuma to lead this workshop.
The day before the workshop Tice and I met at the Arizona Game and Fish Office in Yuma and spoke for awhile with Lin Piest about where the new volunteers can be best implemented. There are four IBAs within a short drive of Yuma, the Lower Colorado River Gadsden Riparian Area IBA, Mittry Lake Wildlife Area IBA, Imperial Reservoir IBA, and Imperial National Wildlife Refuge IBA. These volunteers will be especially valuable as our partner, Arizona Game and Fish, also has an interest in these areas and is very interested in what our surveys find there in the future.
That evening, Tice and I gave a presentation to the Yuma Audubon Society on the Important Bird Area program, how effective it has been in Arizona and talked about the IBAs right in their back yard and the exciting birds that live there. The presentation went very well and there was lots of interest for the training workshop the next day.
The morning of the 15th, all 13 workshop participants met with Tice and I in the Yuma East Wetlands (right near the Yuma Territorial Prison) to learn how to conduct IBA surveys. First Tice and I went over the protocols and datasheets for the different types of surveys. Then we broke up the participants into teams and conducted two practice surveys. This was a great workshop with very enthusiastic participants. Yeah for Yuma!
After the training was completed and Tice and I were headed for home, I took a little detour into the Twilight Zone. Right down the road, a little more west on the I-8 is a spot on the map called Felicity, California. This place is a monument to quirky, yet is surprisingly classy and only takes a few minutes.
Here I gazed at a piece of the original staircase from Eiffel Tower that just climbs into the sky.
There is a bronze reproduction of the hand of God from the Michelangelo’s famous Sistine Chapel fresco that points off into the horizon. A huge granite maze with a history of pretty much everything winds its way around in an impressively huge design. My very favorite thing in Felicity is a giant pyramid that houses the official center of the earth (no kidding).
On the floor of the pyramid is a bronze plaque with a small dot that is has been officially recognized by the government of France as the center of the earth. This was an amazing detour that I highly recommend to anyone visiting Yuma.