Oct-Dec 2009

This issue looks forward to future challenges facing the East Bay Regional Park District at its 75th anniversary. We also celebrate the phenomenally successful restoration of Giacomini Wetland at the southern end of Tomales Bay and explore the effects of fire on the landscape—in the huge 2008 Basin Complex Fire in the Ventana Wilderness, the 2007 Lick Fire at Henry Coe State Park, and the 2008 San Bruno Mountain fire. Cover photo by Jerry Ting.


Issue Content

Cattails: A Wetlands Supermarket

October 01, 2009 by Aleta George

Cattails are hard to miss, yet often dismissed. Whether in solitary clumps in a ditch or spread out in marshy fields, the burnt umber rockets hovering above dark-green blades add texture and familiarity to the landscape. They also turn out to be quite useful, with pollen that can be used as flour and roots that might help wetlands cope with sea level rise.

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Coe’s Fire Followers

October 01, 2009 by Daniel McGlynn

The 2007 Lick Fire was a firestorm that consumed 47,000 acres, most of it in Henry W. Coe State Park, east of Gilroy. Just days after the fire, park volunteers were on the scene. Two years later the “fire followers” of Coe Park are still at it, and even in the face of park budget cuts, they hope to keep their research going for years to come.

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Closing the Loop at Carquinez

October 01, 2009 by Aleta George

From the top of Dillon Point in Benicia State Recreation Area, you can trace the route of the Carquinez Strait Scenic Loop Trail, a 50-mile route that will, when finished, ring the strait.

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Land Trusts Face Bondless Future

October 01, 2009 by Aleta George

State budget problems mean that local land trusts are holding onto land they planned to hand over to the state, and facing tough times in the absence of bond funding.

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Local Artists Paint for Diablo

October 01, 2009 by Aleta George

The BayWood artists’ October 2009 show will feature new works of Mount Diablo, and proceeds benefit Save Mount Diablo, which is working to raise funds for a critical new purchase by March 3, 2010.

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No Normal for Coastal Waters

October 01, 2009 by Aleta George

Nesting failures for cormorants on the Farallones and Alcatraz are just the most obvious expression of unprecedented, and confusing, conditions faced by wildlife in the waters off our shores.

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Fire on the Mountain

October 01, 2009 by John Muir Laws

A year after fire burned through two canyons on San Bruno Mountain, artist Jack Laws visited to see how different fire intensities left their mark on the plants of Buckeye and Owl canyons.

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Forged by Fire

October 01, 2009 by Lester Rowntree

We know that wildfire is a key part of the ecology of the Bay Area and has played a major role in shaping our landscapes. Yet it’s simply not possible to let fires burn naturally in an urban region such as ours. But just to the south, the 240,000-acre Ventana Wilderness near Big Sur is large and remote enough to allow for the return of a natural fire regime. That’s what has happened over the past 30 years as a series of lightning-ignited wildfires has helped shape both a living laboratory of fire ecology and an increasingly diverse landscape.

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Just Add Water

October 01, 2009 by Carolyn Longstreth

Just a year after the levees were breached, wildlife is thriving at Giacomini Wetland at the south end of Tomales Bay.

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Letter from the Publisher

October 01, 2009 by David Loeb

Let’s celebrate 75 years of East Bay parks by keeping up the pressure on the state to fund our state parks.

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The Lungs of the City

October 01, 2009 by Richard A. Walker

In 1934, local voters created the East Bay Regional Park District, the nation’s largest regional park district. Today, as the district celebrates its 75th anniversary, challenges abound: Sea level rise threatens shoreline parks, the recession and budget crises affect park operations, and a growing human population puts increasing pressure on open space. Nevertheless, the district continues to thrive, with strong public support for land purchases and an unsurpassed combination of diverse wildlife habitats and accessible parks that attract millions of visitors every year.

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Top Billing for Shorebirds

October 01, 2009 by Alan Kaplan

As summer turns to fall, thousands of shorebirds return to the shoreline and mudflats of San Francisco Bay, either for a pit stop on their way south or to stay for the winter. Sometimes many different kinds gather in one place. How can you tell them apart?

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Trial by Fire for Condors

October 01, 2009 by Dan Rademacher

In June 2008, when the Basin Fire burned through the Big Sur coast, California condors, and the biologists who monitor them, faced wildlfire for the first time in living memory. After a heroic rescue of juvenile birds, the scientists and the flock came out well. Now they face more insidious threats: lead shot in carcasses and deadly trash along roadways.

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What is quicksand?

October 01, 2009 by Michael Ellis

The quicksand won’t get you, but the quakes might.

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