The public is invited to celebrate National Public Lands Day at 1 p.m. (Mountain Daylight Time) Sept. 24 by observing the release of captive-bred California condors into the wild at Vermilion Cliffs National Monument in northern Arizona.
The event also will be live-streamed via The Peregrine Fund’s YouTube channel beginning at 12:30 p.m. (MDT). Viewers can set a reminder to join the release, which is scheduled for 1 p.m. (MDT) — noon local time in northern Arizona (Mountain Standard Time) — but ultimately depends on when the birds choose to leave their release pen.
There will be a picture-in-picture set up with a camera trained on the release pen; videos and interviews with condor biologists and conservationists who work with these massive birds will be included. Viewers also will be able to have their questions answered live by the team.
The Arizona-Utah California Condor conservation effort is a partnership of federal, state and private entities, including The Peregrine Fund, Bureau of Land Management in Utah, Bureau of Land Management’s Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, Arizona Game and Fish Department, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Grand Canyon and Zion national parks, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, and Kaibab and Dixie national forests, among other supporting groups and individuals.
This is the 27th year that the partnership has marked National Public Lands Day with a public release event at Vermilion Cliffs. In 2020, due to COVID-19 restrictions, the team took the celebration online, which attracted more than 10,000 viewers.
Those who attend this year’s event will have the opportunity to talk to condor biologists, learn about the birds and their habitat, and enjoy a festival-like atmosphere while waiting for the birds to take that first leap off the cliff. Details about attending the event in person are below.
- Bring: Spotting scope or binoculars, sunscreen, water, snack, chair and layered clothing.
- Details: Informational kiosk, shade structure and restroom at the site. The event will follow the CDC guidelines in place for outdoor gatherings at the time of the event.
- Directions: Take Highway 89A from Kanab or Page to the Vermilion Cliffs (from Flagstaff, take Highway 89 to Highway 89A). Turn north onto BLM Road 1065 (a dirt road next to the small house just east of the Kaibab Plateau) and continue almost three miles.
- Map: https://on.doi.gov/3dW2f4m
The historical California Condor population declined to just 22 individuals in the 1980s when the greater California Condor Recovery Program was initiated to save the species from extinction. As of May 2022, there were 113 condors in the rugged, canyon country of northern Arizona and southern Utah. The total world population of endangered California condors numbers more than 550 individuals, with more than half of them winging across the skies of Arizona, Utah, California and Mexico.
For more information about the California condor recovery project, visit https://peregrinefund.org/projects/california-condor.