Best Job Ever: Mapping “California’s Galápagos”


Cartographers and National Geographic grantees Marty Schnure and Ross Donihue traveled to the little-known Farallon National Wildlife Refuge to document the scientists who live there and to create an interactive digital map to allow the public to explore the islands from afar.

The Farallon National Wildlife Refuge is closed to public access to protect this wildlife hot spot. “Immediately when you step onto the islands you realize the island belongs to the wildlife and we’re just visitors here,” said Donihue. Schnure and Donihue are National Geographic grantees who have worked in collaboration with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Point Blue Conservation Science (Point Blue) to do fieldwork on the Farallon Islands at multiple points over the last year.

Schnure explained the bigger picture about conservation advocacy through their organization, Maps for Good. She said something that people ask them all the time related to this project is, “It’s already a national wildlife refuge. It’s already protected, so what are you advocating for?” Schnure explained, “What we’re advocating for is increased awareness of this place. Protected places need continual support in terms of funding really important long-term research, as well as defending the protection of these lands against threats from development.”

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photo: Ross Donihue


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