Sarah Sweedler

Sarah Sweedler writes about natural and cultural history. She can be reached at

Around the Bend


Put your boat or raft in the river above Healdsburg and follow a wild, green thread flowing through an altered landscape.

The Saved and the Dammed


For better and worse, the upper reach of the Pilarcitos watershed on the Peninsula was dammed to supply water to San Francisco in the 1860s. The surrounding land has been protected and kept off-limits to the public ever since, allowing rare species to thrive here. That includes the marbled murrelet, which nests only in old-growth conifers, such as Douglas fir. But the dam and other impacts also leave less water in the creek for oceangoing steelhead. Now, a diverse group of stakeholders has come together to chart a brighter future for the fish and the creek.

Mount Sutro’s Untold Understory


It’s almost impossible to miss Sutro Tower, the lanky broadcast antenna that looms 977 feet above the summit of one of San Francisco’s tallest hills, itself over 900 feet tall. However, few people know that underneath that landmark sit 61 … Read more

Unearthing Mountain Lake


In 2001, bulldozers excavated two immense old army water tanks that long sat at the edge of Mountain Lake, a two-and-a-half-acre lake in San Francisco’s Presidio that’s one of only three natural lakes in the city. That same year, native … Read more