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 Photo: Angelo P.

Seventeenth Annual Flyway Festival


this Weekend



By Paula McConnell




Vallejo activist Myna Hayes arrived in town some twenty-seven years ago armed with a Masters Degree, a great deal of savvy, a strong mind, and plenty of resourceful wit. One of her first positions out of university was selling nuts and bolts. That prepared her well for the hard line struggles and obstacles in building one of the greatest legacies of all time: preserving the south end of Mare Island. Just a few short years ago, the then Vallejo Mayor, Tony Intintoli, and the Bechtel Corporation had cooked up a plan to turn the southern end of Mare Island into a Liquid Natural Gas Plant. Hayes, and several other hard-driven activists beat them back, and the “Mare Island Preserve” was able to survive. Since then it has been enjoyed by hundreds of people who appreciate its open space. Bird lovers, nature lovers, and those appreciative of some of the most preserved virgin land in the Bay Area visit daily. In addition to that, Hayes has managed to help maintain the largest number of Tiffany stained glass windows located in one place this side of the Mississippi River. When the Tiffany stained glass windows adorning Mare Island’s St. Peter’s Chapel became threatened, Hayes took action to help raise money for their preservation. As has been well documented, St. Peter’s Chapel is one of the oldest Naval chapels still in existence in North America. But Hayes was not just satisfied with helping to preserve land and windows. She looked around and realized that Vallejo enjoys one of the largest numbers of shore birds and migratory birds in existence within Northern California. Over the years state and government entities have consistently tried to construct, or clear paths for new development within the birding flyways, Hayes goes to battle in defense of the birds each and every time. On the positive side, the Vallejo Flyway Festival was born, honoring the migratory birds and illuminating the natural areas of their existence.


Now in its seventeenth year, the annual Vallejo Flyway Festival gains increased notoriety each year. Today it brings approximately 5,000 people to Vallejo for a three day festival which takes place each year on Mare Island in the month of February. This year, as last, it is being kicked off at 500 Connolly Street in Building 223 on Mare Island. The event is scheduled for February 8th, 9th and 10th. If you plan to attend, there are plenty of signs on Mare Island to guide your way. The first day the public is treated to a complimentary buffet, plenty of wine, an art show, and over one-hundred exhibits. The food festivities begin at 5p.m. on Friday and continue to 8:p.m. Over the weekend there will be many guided tours in and around the island, including wetlands, shorelines, historic sites and open spaces. Early in the history of the Flyway Festival, Hayes received generous support from Arc Ecology, but today the three day event is sponsored by several Vallejo downtown merchants, the Sierra Club and the Audubon Society. “One of the most exciting birds this year is the Osprey which is rare in Northern America. Mare Island and its surrounding environment boast the largest nesting of Ospreys with the only other known nesting site in the country of Wales,” said Hayes.

After Friday’s opening celebration, the outdoor events will be held on both Saturday and Sunday from 7:00a.m. To 5:00p.m. There will be approximately seventy guided tours, and Hayes proudly states that there will be something for everyone to savor and enjoy. “This is a marvelous way for children to learn about nature, birds and preservation of the environment,” Hayes said. There are plenty of adults too who have made bird watching, hiking, and outdoor adventures part of their daily lives. Local artists have also captured the essence of birds, and Mare Island’s natural environment as well. Many talented artists have their work on display, and priced modestly for sale, giving those in attendance an opportunity to purchase a little bit of the memory. Each year artists beautifully capture the images of Mare Island’s shore birds, boats, shore lines, sunsets and vistas. We who live in Vallejo are blessed to have so many creative people among us, so much beauty within our midst, and so many volunteer activists like Myrna Hayes who consistently and indefatigably work to maintain our quality of life through nature adventures and cultural events. We offer a big thank you to Myrna Hayes, and to all who have contributed so selflessly to the annual Vallejo Flyway Festival. It is yet another best kept secret in our wonderful little jewel of a town. We hope to see you at the Mare Island 17th annual Flyway Festival on Mare Island.