Mary Callahan, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
In the absence of heavy visitor traffic and regular staff wildlife management, the burgeoning elephant seal colony that has been drifting along the shoreline from Chimney Rock for several years appears to have gotten a foot-hold at Drakes Beach, though it’s not entirely clear where the elephant seals there came from.
What’s clear is they find it a safe and protected place to bear offspring. By Monday, there were about 50 females with 40 pups and more on the way, as well as a dominant bull and several subordinates.
The listless malaise common to many workplaces on Monday mornings was nowhere apparent among national park staffers, as workers returned from a 35-day layoff imposed on them by a political showdown 3,000 miles away.
Their email in-boxes were brimming and the awaiting work load unmeasured, given 150 miles of back-country trails still to patrol for downed trees and other damage from recent winter storms.
But everywhere, people were clearly glad to be in uniform and back on the job after a long, uncertain and stressful wait.
A Monday morning meeting of about 80 personnel just to check in and mark the occasion was more like a high school reunion than anything else, Point Reyes National Seashore spokesman John Dell’Osso said.
Wildlife ecologist Dave Press said everyone was glad to see one another and find out how they had passed the month away from work.
“It was very uplifting,” said Dell’Osso, a 36-year employee of the seashore. “It was great to see everybody.”
The public was allowed during the federal shutdown to use trails and roads on the 71,000-acre seashore, a year-round attraction to locals and tourists alike.