Amigos de Bolsa Chica Self-Guided Tour
By Karen Belville and Nancy Boyd-Batstone

Have you had the opportunity to visit the new Educational Panels at the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve (BCER)? These panels are the culmination of a ten-year cooperative effort of several conservation groups (including the Amigos) to educate the public about ecology, birds, history, restoration, and endangered species in the Reserve.

17 panels are covered in the Amigos’ new Self-Guided Tour. They are placed at various overlooks along a mile walk, beginning at the south parking lot of BCER and ending at the Mesa Trail Overlook. The panels are beautifully designed, illustrated, informative and are appealing to all ages. All by themselves they are definitely worth a visit!

Interpretive PanelThe Amigos' Self-Guided Tours uses the 17
new interpretive panels to educate.
Photo by Thomas Anderson.
In response to restrictions on group tours due to COVID-19, Amigos Education Committee members designed a Self-Guided Tour of the Reserve utilizing these panels. This new tour can be found on our website: This tour was designed to encourage teachers, high school students, and families to visit BCER in person and safely in small, independent groups. It can also be used as an adjunct activity to expand learning and provide enrichment for students, home-schooled youth, on-line learners and families. Additionally, teachers who utilize the Amigos de Bolsa Chica Virtual Wetlands Tour with their classes may have students who want to visit the BCER to experience it in person and delve more deeply into the history and the ecology of the area.

The Self-Guided Tour provides questions for each panel to encourage students to reflect on the information. Currently, we have focused on high school level students as they are more likely to be able to visit the Ecological Reserve on their own. However, questions could be modified or shortened for younger students. The tour also provides photographs of the 17 informational panels, an answer guide for teachers, and details on how the informational panels and student questions connect to the California Next Generation Science Standards for High School and the corresponding Disciplinary Core ideas. Additional links are also made with the History and Social Science Standards for 11th grade and the Historical and Social Science Analysis Skills for grades 9-12.

We hope to continue our Naturalist-led tours in the future when it is safe to gather in groups. Until then, we want to encourage individuals to get outdoors and visit the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve. Remember to wear a mask and maintain social distancing. Enjoy!