'We need to tell their stories': Marin bird researchers scramble to save 54 years of data from Woodward Fire's path

MARIN COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) -- In the North Bay, a big fire rescue happened this week - Not people or animals, but vital data on on bird research, which spans back decades.

The study is being done at Point Reyes at a small outpost, that for a time was in the path of the Woodward Fire.

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"The wind was blowing a substantial amount of ash and smoke in air," said Diana Humple.

Tense moments this week for aviary ecologist Diana Humple, who knew the Woodward Fire was only miles from where she works at the Palomarin Field Station at Pt. Reyes, a home base for bird studies, spanning more than 50 years.

The first priority was evacuating the student interns who live there.

"Our second priority was extracting data," she said.

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Irreplaceable data. Hundreds of hand written journals documenting bird activity in the region.

Most of it was loaded into cars and driven away from the center, including Humple's own car.

"It's a profound responsibility to know we have 54 years of data, we don't want to lose," Humple added..

Journals date back to 1966, when one of the largest largest bird studies in American began operated by non-profit Point Blue Conservation Science.

The journals contain logs about bird behavior and location. And bird 'banding' for species like the beautiful Wilson's Warbler.

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There's information logged on hundreds of birds along the West Coast. Some of the logs of information have been digitized but not all.

Luckily the fire didn't reach the field station. But the road to it remains closed outside Bolinas.

The vital journals, safe for now. A view to the past and the future of our changing world and climate change.

"If we lose the data, we're not losing records about birds we're losing the ability to tell their stories," Humple said.


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