Small fragments of San Francisco’s original plant communities still survive today, the last vestiges of the unique grasslands, dunes, oak woodlands, and creeks that are the natural heritage of the City by the Bay. Through site stewardship, the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department Natural Areas Program continues to work with community groups and volunteers to protect and restore the biodiversity of these natural areas. Since its inception in 1997, the program has benefited from more than 10,000 volunteer hours to help care for these areas around parks and open spaces such as Lake Merced, McLaren Park, and Tank Hill. If you’re interested in joining a work party, held every Saturday at a different location, contact Suzanna Buehl at (415) 753-7268.
Learn more about the watershed you live in. Several workshops and resources exist around the Bay to help teachers, students, and the general public understand local water resources and incorporate local watershed studies into teaching and learning:
In the North Bay, check out Watershed Week, held from August 12 to 15. Sponsored by the Bay Institute (www.bay.org) and the Center for Ecoliteracy, Watershed Week includes workshops looking at indigenous food and fiber plants of Marin and Sonoma, at local birds, and at ways for teachers to use the outdoors as a classroom, with projects centered on water quality, aquatic insect monitoring, and watershed mapping. If you’re interested, contact Laurette Rogers at (415) 506-0150.
In the East Bay, the Aquatic Outreach Institute (AOI) hosts teacher training workshops—”Watching our Watersheds,” “Kids in Creeks,” and “Kids in Gardens”—throughout the year. AOI also publishes a quarterly newsletter, Creeks Speak, where you can find a comprehensive directory of Bay Area creek groups. To find out more, visit www.aoinstitute.org .
The Santa Clara Valley Water District in the South Bay believes that it’s never too early for children to begin understanding and appreciating their local water resources. The district offers educational programs about water for teachers and students. It also sponsors several school projects that incorporate hands-on watershed learning into the curriculum. For more information, contact Kathy Machado at (408) 265-2607, ext. 2331, or visit www.valleywater.org.
Speaking of watersheds, you can help celebrate writers, nature, and community at this year’s Seventh Annual Watershed Environmental Poetry Festival, featuring Robert Hass and Michael McClure. Poetry Flash, the San Francisco-based bimonthly poetry review and literary calendar for the West, hosts the outdoor event, which will take place on Saturday, September 7, noon to 5:00 p.m. at Civic Center Park in Berkeley. Bay Nature is proud to be a sponsor. For details, visit www.poetryflash.org.