Bay Nature magazineApril-June 2006

Environmental Building Boom

April 1, 2006

The North Bay is having a bit of an environmental building boom. PRBO Conservation Science, the noted research organization based in West Marin for over 30 years, will open a new facility next to Shollenberger Park, a popular birding spot on the Petaluma River. PRBO’s San Francisco Bay Research Center and Headquarters will provide researchers, visiting scientists, staff, and interns room to breathe in a new 19,780-square-foot office. The building will be dedicated at prbo’s members-only annual meeting on Sunday, May 21, 2006.

Shollenberger Park
Courtesy Solano Land Trust and Arc Inc. Architects, www.solanolandtrust.org

After a visit to Shollenberger Park, grab a hammer and paintbrush and head to Solano County to help build a new education center at Rush Ranch Open Space, which, along with Marin County’s China Camp, is designated as the San Francisco Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (SFBNERR). Owned and managed by Solano Land Trust, Rush Ranch is a 2,070-acre open space of sweeping grassland and brackish tidal marsh. “Both China Camp State Park and Rush Ranch Open Space have smooth and natural transitions between their wetlands and uplands. Most wetlands in the Bay Area lack these transitions because of roads and other development,” says Sarah Davies, education coordinator for the reserve.

That makes Rush Ranch a great setting for environmental education, but all programs have had to be strictly outdoors, until now. SFBNERR has provided $500,000 to kick off construction of a new building expected to cost $1.2 million. An anonymous donor has offered a $450,000 endowment for the building’s maintenance if the Solano Land Trust can raise matching funds. The land trust is planning to start construction in early summer 2006 with volunteers pitching in for an old-fashioned barn raising. In addition to a new caretaker’s residence, the building—powered by solar, wind, and a back-up generator—will include an office, work and sleeping areas for visiting researchers, and a large room for classes, meetings, and events.

Learn more about the property and the upcoming community-build at the annual Rush Ranch Open House on April 29, 2006. Rush Ranch is also open to the public, Tuesday through Saturday, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. See www.rushranch.org for details.

About the Author

Writer Aleta George trained as a Jepson Prairie docent in 2009. In addition to writing Bay Nature's Ear to the Ground column, she has written for Smithsonian, High Country News, and the Los Angeles Times.

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