Human History

Human settlement in the San Francisco Bay Area dates back 7,000 years to early Native American settlements. Today, the region is a teeming metropolis of 6 million people that collectively challenge the health of the region’s ecosystems. How it got this way — from Spanish acquisition to the Gold Rush boom and on to contemporary battles over land development — is a story that prompts a deeper understanding of our place in the landscape.

Latest from Human History

Getting to Work on Tennessee Hollow

September 05, 2008 by Laura Hautala

The Presidio’s Tennessee Hollow watershed is steeped in history. And it’s a magnet for wildlife. Now, the Presidio Trust is embarking on an ambitious restoration project. Find out how you can take part.

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Flocking to the Island of Angels

July 01, 2008 by Aleta George

Cut off from land for thousands of years, the Bay’s largest island is a natural and cultural gem just a ferry ride or paddle away from city life.

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Making a Strait Loop

July 01, 2008 by Sherida Bush

Thanks to a collaboration between the regional Bay and Ridge Trails, a new loop trail will soon link the north sides of the Carquinez Strait.

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The Beach as Office

July 01, 2008 by Joe Cervelin

I go to the beach in January. Sometimes I bring a sweater and a hat. I go to the beach in June in work clothes and roll up the cuffs. It reminds me why I’m still in California, what my rent really includes, that I’m alive…

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The Keeper of the Waters

July 01, 2008 by Cindy Spring

Gayle Ciardi, the first woman to serve as a watershed keeper for the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, is the fourth-generation of her family to work on the SFPUC watershed.

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The Saved and the Dammed

July 01, 2008 by Sarah Sweedler

For better and worse, the upper reach of the Pilarcitos watershed on the Peninsula was dammed to supply water to San Francisco in the 1860s. The surrounding land has been protected and kept off-limits to the public ever since, allowing rare species to thrive here. That includes the marbled murrelet, which nests only in old-growth conifers, such as Douglas fir. But the dam and other impacts also leave less water in the creek for oceangoing steelhead. Now, a diverse group of stakeholders has come together to chart a brighter future for the fish and the creek.

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Black Coal, Bright Flowers

April 01, 2008 by Horst Rademacher

The peaceful hills of Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve weren’t always so: One hundred twenty years ago, you’d have found bustling towns full of miners and their families and, nearby, the mine works and railroads that carried out tons of coal and sand, feeding the booming industries of Northern California. Today, the park offers grand vistas, abundant wildflowers, and a mine tour that gives an illuminating view of both the work of the miners and the geological history that brought them here and shaped the aboveground landscape.

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Marking Time on the Dunes

April 01, 2008 by Dan Rademacher

A walk at Lawson’s Landing is a step back into simpler times, when families returned to the same spot every

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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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Shifting Sands

April 01, 2008 by Jules Evens

At the mouth of Tomales Bay, sand dunes and seasonal wetlands coexist uneasily with California’s largest coastal campground. The dunes at Lawson’s Landing, home to rare butterflies and plants like the dune tansy, are among the few left of a once-common coastal habitat that could be restored and maintained as a healthy, functioning ecosystem. But can that be accomplished without driving out the family-run camping operation at the dunes that, since 1957, has been an affordable summer getaway for thousands of visitors?

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