Jan-Mar 2006

 

Issue Content

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 […]

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Dance of the Cranes

January 01, 2006 by Mike Faden

The Cosumnes Preserve near I-5 in the Central Valley is a surprising mosaic of flooded rice fields teeming with birds, breached levees creating new forests, and a river reclaiming a landscape.

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Altering the ESA

January 01, 2006 by Aleta George

In October 2005 the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that, if approved by the Senate and signed into law, would dramatically alter the 1973 Endangered Species Act (ESA). Sponsored by local Congressman Richard Pombo (R-Tracy), the bill would eliminate critical habitat designations and require payments to landowners who lose potential development revenue due […]

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Breuner Marsh Stewardship

January 01, 2006 by Aleta George

Some people inherit china, but Whitney Dotson has inherited a marsh. He doesn’t actually own Breuner Marsh, the 238-acre tidal marsh adjacent to Point Pinole Regional Shoreline in northern Richmond, but he has taken on its stewardship. “We are the second and third generation to take up the struggle to provide access to the Richmond […]

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Marin County Nonmotorized Transit Pilot Program

January 01, 2006 by Aleta George

Marin County is already home to many spectacular trails for recreational cyclists, hikers, and walkers, but there’s a new trail in the works for commuters—the kind who prefer spokes and sneakers to cars. Designated as one of four communities nationwide to host a Nonmotorized Transportation Pilot Program, the county will receive $25 million in federal […]

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New Golf Course in Menlo Park

January 01, 2006 by Aleta George

After hearing testimony from 89 speakers, bleary-eyed Menlo Park city council members voted 3 to 2 on November 1 to move forward with plans for a public golf course in the heart of Menlo Park’s only open space. Converted from landfill to open space in 1976, the 160-acre Bayfront Park at the end of Marsh […]

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Restoration of Dutch Slough

January 01, 2006 by Aleta George

In the city of Oakley, Dutch Slough has one foot on the reed-covered banks of the Delta in northeastern Contra Costa County and the other toe-to-toe with a housing development. Great blue herons, egrets, and blackbirds frequent this 1,166-acre freshwater tidal marsh and upland site, once slated for 6,000 houses. The slough is now the […]

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First Encounters

January 01, 2006 by David Rains Wallace

When European explorers and naturalists began coming to California a few centuries ago, most sailed right past the fog-shrouded Golden Gate. But those few who did stop here, including the botanist-poet who first described the California poppy, left tantalizing clues to the world they saw before the Gold Rush transformed the Bay Area from backwater to boomtown.

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Letter from the Publisher

January 01, 2006 by David Loeb

As we were considering articles for our fifth anniversary issue, which you are now holding in your hands, David Rains Wallace’s story proposal about early European naturalists visiting the Bay Area seemed very appropriate, given that those men (and they were all men at that time) represent the beginnings of the tradition of inquiry that […]

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Conservation Easements Around the State

January 01, 2006 by Darla Guenzler

California leads the nation in the number of land trusts, with over 150. Similar to their Bay Area counterparts, land trusts throughout the state use conservation easements to protect a wide range of natural resources, from forests to farmland to desert. However, several distinctions can be made regarding the use of easements outside the Bay […]

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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 fall color on their taut wires. Almost within earshot of the bustle of town, it’s the kind of place you’d expect to see For Sale signs. Instead at many gates you read this notice: “This […]

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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 partner, surveys his family’s domain. Most of its 1,200 acres, from ridgetop to county road to water district reservoir, lie within view. Beyond, the bowl of Nicasio rises to rims of hills. North slopes are […]

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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 where most people live. To the west is a chain of lofty, forested hills, the Santa Cruz Mountains; farther west is the coast, still largely unspoiled and agricultural, despite some of the highest rural land […]

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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 the landscape, though here the trust came first. The Sonoma Land Trust set up shop in 1976 and acquired some key properties. The pace of preservation picked up in 1990 when county voters established a […]

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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 with grazing cows, you can feel the calmness that flows from a stable landscape. It has always been this way, you feel; it will always be this way. The first thought is partially an illusion; […]

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Stone-Boiled Coffee and Other Old Ways

January 01, 2006 by Cindy Spring

We all have moments on hikes when we dream of being able to live directly off the land, plants, and animals around us. Norm Kidder, the recently retired supervising naturalist at Sunol Regional Wilderness, has spent more than 30 years studying and replicating Stone Age technologies (including some of the ones used in the Bay […]

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Wild Gardens

January 01, 2006 by Beverly R. Ortiz

A visit to remnant native grasslands in Richmond or diverse oak woodlands in eastern Alameda County gives a taste of our region’s native habitats. But few of us are aware of an important element that helped shape those habitats: the regimes of burning, pruning, and digging carried out over centuries by the East Bay’s indigenous inhabitants, some of whom still carry on those traditions today.

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