Bay Nature magazineJanuary-March 2002

Letter from the Publisher

January 1, 2002

The past three months have not been easy ones for our planet. The events of 9/11 continue to reverberate globally, from bombs over Afghanistan to imperiled civil liberties and recession at home. It is not immediately clear what the role of a regional nature magazine should be in the face of such momentous world events. At the most basic level, there is certainly solace to be found in embracing and deepening our connection to the piece of the earth we live on. We can counter the urge to pull back into a shell by opening up to a world that holds so much beauty and so many spirited people. If Bay Nature can, in some way, help keep open those pathways of relation to the natural world and the people who love it, then we will have done well.

On Thanksgiving Day, I paddled with a friend across Richardson Bay and Raccoon Strait to Angel Island. There were very few boats out, and no other kayakers in sight, so it felt as if we were sharing the Bay with only the harbor seals and the pelicans. The day started sunny and calm, but turned windy and gray as we headed home. The gentle swells of the morning were replaced by a stiffening wind from the north that threw up whitecaps made more capricious by the current through the Strait. Those waves surging in from the Pacific Ocean go right through your body, a sensation that is both (literally) uplifting and sobering. In that moment, the ability to read the dynamic surface of the water and respond to its constant changes is just as important as the muscle power and coordination required to move across it.

Getting back to the beach safely is a little like trying to guide a small magazine through its start-up period, especially when you hit the choppy waters of a recession. Like many other enterprises large and small, Bay Nature has found this period to be a challenging one. You may notice that this issue, the first of our second year, has fewer pages than earlier issues, the result of a temporary reduction in advertising. Changing economic circumstances, like changing weather, require flexibility as well as muscle power. Fortunately, we’ve got both, as well as a lot of support from you, our readers.

At this moment, I can’t help but feel hopeful. The rains have returned with a power and largesse that is both welcome and surprising. Instead of facing another dry year, it looks as if weíll have full creeks for returning salmon and steelhead, abundant freshwater inflows to the Bay for the benefit of bay shrimp and other aquatic creatures, cleansed air for those of us without gills, and a generous soaking of the soil for full-on wildflower displays a few months hence. So why not avoid the hassle of long security lines at the airports and spend your winter months here at home in the wet and beautiful—and always surprising—Bay Area?

About the Author

From 2001-2017, David Loeb served as editor and then publisher of Bay Nature magazine, and executive director of the nonprofit Bay Nature Institute. A Bay Area resident since 1973, David moved here after graduating from college in Boston. The decision was largely based on a week spent visiting friends in San Francisco the previous January, which had included a memorable day at Point Reyes National Seashore. In the late 1990s, after many years working for the Guatemala News and Information Bureau in Oakland, David had the opportunity to spend more time hiking and exploring the parks and open spaces of the Bay Area. Increasingly curious about what he was seeing, he began reading natural history books, attending naturalist-led hikes and natural history courses and lectures, and volunteering for several local conservation organizations.

This was rewarding, but he began to feel that the rich natural diversity of the Bay Area deserved a special venue and a dedicated voice for the whole region, to supplement the many publications devoted to one particular place or issue. That’s when the germ of Bay Nature magazine began to take shape. In February 1997, David contacted Malcolm Margolin, publisher of Heyday Books and News from Native California, with the idea of a magazine focused on nature in the Bay Area, and was delighted with Malcolm’s enthusiastic response. Over the course of many discussions with Malcolm, publishing professionals, potential funders, and local conservation and advocacy groups, the magazine gradually took shape and was launched in January 2001. It is still going strong, with a wider base of support than ever.

Now retired, David contributes to his Bay Nature column "Field Reports."