About

Marin County freelancer John Hart is the author of many articles and several books on environmental issues in the Bay Area, including Farming on the Edge (UC Press, 1992), San Francisco Bay: Portrait of an Estuary (UC Press, 2003) with photos by David Sanger, and the forthcoming Legacy: Portraits of 50 Bay Area Environmental Elders (UC Press, 2006) with photos by Nancy Kittle.

Contributions

Bay Area Wild: Reflections on 50 Years of Wilderness Protection

August 04, 2014 by John Hart

In a world thoroughly worked over by humankind, wilderness is our term for those places that seem the least altered, the least managed. It identifies the rawer end of a spectrum, with downtown San Francisco on one end and, say, the Wrangell Mountains on the other. But the word is elastic.

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Map Sense: From Topos to Tablets at the East Bay Regional Parks

January 13, 2014 by John Hart

Every map tells a story -- about the world, and about the person who made it.

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Planned Wilderness

October 06, 2011 by John Hart

In eastern Contra Costa and Alameda counties, an ambitious vision for protecting big pieces of remaining open space is taking shape: From Black Diamond Mines and Mount Diablo to Brushy Peak and Sunol, several major agreements promise to replace ad hoc mitigation projects with a broader canvas of protected and connected habitat.

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Suburban Slough

January 01, 2011 by John Hart

There is a godwho sits upon the sea’s blue monumentand breathes into the tide.He sits far off, and yet his ...

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Liberty Island

April 01, 2010 by John Hart

This flooded island has become a surprising refuge for endangered Delta smelt, which have ended up living here full time, much to the surprise of biologists. But an invading exotic plant threatens that success, unless land managers can make some changes to tilt the game back in the smelt’s favor.

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The Once and Future Delta

April 01, 2010 by John Hart

About the only thing people agree on about the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta--the subject of countless white papers, editorials, and political debates--is that it's in a heap of trouble. But this 1,000-square-mile patchwork of islands, sloughs, wetlands, and farmlands is also a rich and complex--if highly altered--ecosystem at the core of the San Francisco Estuary. Here we take a look behind today's news to understand what the Delta once was, how it has been changed, and what it might become . . . with a lot of help from its friends.

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Paradise Cut

April 01, 2010 by John Hart

Superhighways stay out of the Delta, mostly. But if you have ever driven on Interstate 5 south of Stockton, you have just grazed one of the southernmost Delta islands, Stewart Tract. Filling the angle between the San Joaquin River and Paradise Cut, one of that river's lesser branches, it is also at the intersection of two specifically South Delta concerns: urbanization and flood control.

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Sherman Island

April 01, 2010 by John Hart

The Delta’s westernmost island, which shields major water-export pumps from incoming saltwater, is a testing ground for several efforts to prepare this fragile region for the threats of sea level rise and levee degradation.

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Worth the Wait

January 01, 2010 by John Hart

Fenced off in plain sight for decades, the Concord Naval Weapons Station is the largest piece of undeveloped, unprotected land in Contra Costa County. Now, after years of debate and planning, a large portion of the former base is poised to become a major new regional park, as well as a critical open space link and wildlife corridor stretching from the summit of Mount Diablo to the shores of Suisun Bay.

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Muir Woods Anniversary

April 01, 2008 by John Hart

Though named for legendary conservationist John Muir, Muir Woods National Monument is really the legacy of William Kent, a wealthy landowner and politician. His gift to the nation 100 years ago of this redwood-lined valley in southwestern Marin, containing the last significant old-growth stands in the county, meant that millions of visitors from around the region and the world would get to witness these magnificent trees. The park's anniversary caps a remarkable century of conservation in the Bay Area.

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Guaranteed Returns

July 01, 2007 by John Hart

Sure, it can be frustrating to see that land purchased for a park is still closed to the public. But buying open space is only the first step in creating a new park. After that come the land-use plans and the search for funds to pay for facilities and staff. Here we take a look at what it will take for the East Bay Regional Park District to transform the 15,000 acres in its land bank into parks.

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Canvasback

July 01, 2007 by John Hart

On an early map of San Pablo Bay, made in 1775, the Spanish explorer Jose Canizares wrote this phrase: “forests ...

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Highway to the Flyway

July 01, 2007 by John Hart

Along the gentle arc of the northern San Pablo Bay shoreline, one of the region's least loved highways, Highway 37, traverses one of its most fascinating landscapes. Best to be in the passenger seat, for the country you are traversing deserves far more than a stolen glance...

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Marsh Gumplant

July 01, 2007 by John Hart

Defining the edge of a shifting body of water like San Francisco Bay, whose exact extent changes with every tide, ...

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Napa-Sonoma Marshes

July 01, 2007 by John Hart

We are somewhere west of the Napa River, nosing in a small boat along a slough between hollow islands known ...

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Sears Point

July 01, 2007 by John Hart

The southernmost hump of the Sears Point ridge, known locally as Cougar Mountain, looms over Highway 37. Not its height ...

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The Other Rail

July 01, 2007 by John Hart

Everybody knows about the California clapper rail, the charismatic (though elusive) endangered bird of San Francisco Bay marshes. The San ...

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The Tribe

July 01, 2007 by John Hart

When Greg Sarris of Santa Rosa, an adopted child, learned that his paternal grandmother was a Coast Miwok, it opened ...

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The View from the Can Club

July 01, 2007 by John Hart

On a fall day in duck hunting season, the sound of shotgun fire echoes across the Napa-Sonoma Marshes. It will ...

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View from the Farm

July 01, 2007 by John Hart

You reach Fred Dickson’s place by turning south off Highway 37 near Sears Point on Reclamation Road, the very name ...

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Livermore Valley

January 01, 2006 by John Hart

Along Tesla Avenue at the south edge of Livermore, rows of grapevines angle from the roadside, showing a trace of ...

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People and Easements

January 01, 2006 by John Hart

From a modern house on a knoll in the Nicasio Valley, Randy Lafranchi, fifth-generation Marin County dairyman and second-generation easement ...

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Private Land, Public Good

January 01, 2006 by John Hart

How do you preserve significant parcels of open space in an era of rising land prices and shrinking public budgets? In the 1990s, more Bay Area land was protected using conservation easements, where the owner can stay on the land but gives up development rights, than by outright purchase. Though not without their critics, easements are reshaping the way we go about saving our local landscapes.

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San Mateo Coast

January 01, 2006 by John Hart

South of San Francisco, the Peninsula displays a kind of natural zoning-by-topography. On the east side, along the Bay, is ...

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Sonoma County

January 01, 2006 by John Hart

Like San Mateo County, Sonoma County has both a private nonprofit land trust and a government body working to protect ...

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West Marin

January 01, 2006 by John Hart

Driving out to the coast among the seemingly endless ranks of Marin County hills, studded with rock outcrops and spotted ...

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Saved by Grit and Grace

July 01, 2003 by John Hart

Of course the Marin Headlands--a favorite destination for hikers, bicyclers, birdwatchers, wildflower enthusiasts, and beachgoers--is protected open space. What else could it be? Would you believe...a city of 30,000? It almost was. But thanks to some determined citizens and a little bit of luck, one half of the Golden Gate will remain wild forever.

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Rooted in History

January 01, 2003 by John Hart

Once a major crossroads for the Coast Miwok, and briefly a home for the Grateful Dead, Rancho Olompali now sits quietly beside Highway 101 north of Novato. But follow its trails and you'll hear the echoes of the voices of those who came before.

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