The San Joaquin River National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) will host a Riparian Brush Rabbit Day of tours and nature walks on Saturday, May 4.

Decades ago, the San Joaquin River National Wildlife Refuge played a major role in saving the Aleutian cackling goose from extinction by protecting the species’ wintering grounds. Today, the refuge is playing an important part in saving another endangered species, the riparian brush rabbit - perhaps California’s most endangered mammal. This is partly because of the loss of its habitat – the densely vegetated riparian areas that border rivers and other waterways.

California has lost more than 95 percent of its riparian woodlands.

Join NWR staff on May 4 at the San Joaquin River NWR to learn about riparian woodland restoration on the refuge, and to look for riparian brush rabbits in their natural habitat.

Driving Tours

Join refuge staff at the Pelican Trailhead, on Saturday, May 4, to learn about the work the refuge has done to help save the riparian brush rabbit from extinction. Participants with a reservation will be treated to a driving tour in refuge vehicles, during which they will see and learn about the largest riparian habitat restoration project in the Central Valley - a project that has restored thousands of acres of riparian woodland over the last decade.

A limited number of tours will be offered, starting at 10:00 a.m., with a tour departing every 20 minutes. Each tour will go for one hour, with the last tour departing at 11:40 a.m. Each tour has a specific capacity and is offered on a first-come, first-served, sign-up basis. All driving tour attendees must phone the Refuge Complex office at (209) 826-3508 to reserve a spot. Only refuge vehicles will be allowed to drive on these tours.

Nature Walks

Brush rabbits are most active in the early morning and early evening, so there will be a nature walk in the morning and again around dusk along the Pelican Nature Trail, where visitors might get a chance to see a riparian brush rabbit, if they’re lucky!

No advanced sign-up is necessary for the nature walks – just show up at the Pelican Trailhead at 7:00 a.m. or 6:00 p.m. Each walk will last approximately one hour.

All tours will meet at the Pelican Trailhead parking lot, 2714 Dairy Road, Vernalis.

Be sure to bring water, sunscreen and a snack. The following additional items will enhance wildlife viewing if you have them: binoculars, spotting scope, field guides.

There is no charge for these events. Visitors may participate in one event or all three.

Phone the Refuge Complex at (209) 826-3508 for more information, driving directions, or to ask questions. Driving directions can also be found on the refuge website: www.fws.gov/refuge/San_Joaquin_River/

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