By Adam Madison
Triplicate staff writer
The last interpretive presentation and walk of the season will be held by the North Coast Redwood Interpretive Association (NCRIA) and the Tolowa Dunes Stewards on Sunday.
"It's been great, we have more and more people show up each year," said Sue Calla, event coordinator for Lake Earl Wildlife Area Headquarters.
Visitors from as far away as New York and San Francisco have come to attend the interpretive programs, she said.
"When people come out to visit our redwoods, they'll see a flier and come down to check it (the programs) out," Calla said.
The Redwood Audubon Society, which has 100 members in Del Norte County, the Lake Earl Chapter of the Redwood Audubon Society, the California Native Plant Society, Friends of the Dunes from Arcata, Tolowa Dunes Stewards and Redwood National State Parks have all been involved in the events.
"Without the programs out here, there would be no organized activities at Tolowa Dunes State Park and Lake Earl Wildlife Area," said Rick Hiser, president of the volunteer board for the organization.
The NCRIA is the main sponsor of the interpretive walks.
Among the funding needed for advertisement of the events, stipends are given to the group leaders and instructors that come from out of town.
The stipends are also funded by the NCRIA.
The NCRIA was created in 1976 as a non-profit organization to assist state parks, according to Hiser.
The organization operates visitor centers and stores at Jedidiah Smith Redwood State Park, Prairie Creek State Park, Patrick's Point State Park and Humboldt State Historic Park, each provide funding for the programs.
The stores within the visitor centers offer T-shirts, hats and sweatshirts with park logos on them.
Hiser said, "a good selection of guide books, nature-writing and children's books focusing on nature are available," at the shops.
He added that all of the money that comes from the sales at the stores "goes right back into the park system."
The money funds park activities and pays the two full-time and two part-time NCRIA employees.
The idea of keeping the profits within the state parks system and not out of the area, is the most important part of the NCRIA, according to Hiser.
He said that "an estimated $75,000 a year," is made by the stores, which pays for the staffing of the centers and programs at the park.
The Tolowa Dunes Stewards also are a guiding force involved in the interpretive walks.
The Stewards were created in 2003 to assist in the projects and upkeep of Tolowa Dunes State Park.
"People were coming out (to the park) and saying, ¬ĎWow this place is neat, how can we help ?'," said Calla.
She said that the parks were short-staffed for a while back in 2003, so "for a while there wasn't even a ranger out here (at the Lake Earl Wildlife Area Headquarters)."
"People would come out and dump trash at the end of the road," she said.
The Stewards have 24 members this year and are currently looking for more.
This Sunday's final interpretive walk will focus on seabirds and marine mammals, led by Craig Strong, a wildlife biologist with more than 30 years of experience.
Strong, a Crescent City resident, owns and operates Crescent Coastal Research, a local wildlife consulting business in Crescent City. The program begins with a slide-show introduction to our local seabirds and marine mammals. Questions from the audience will also be answered by Strong, to the best of his knowledge. After the slide-show there is a car-pool field trip to various locations on the Del Norte coast. Strong teaches oceanography and marine mammal science courses at the College of the Redwoods-Del Norte campus.
For information on how to become a Tolowa Dunes Steward, contact Sue Calla at 707-465-6191