Alison Hawkes

Alison Hawkes was a Bay Nature editor from 2011-2017. Before Bay Nature she worked in journalism for more than a decade as a former newspaper reporter turned radio producer turned web editor with each rendition bringing her closer to her dream of covering environmental issues. She co-founded Way Out West, a site dedicated to covering Bay Area environmental news.

A bird’s eye view of new wind turbines in Altamont Pass

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Wind power companies are taking a bird’s eye view in siting new turbines in the Altamont Pass.As a major re-powering effort gets underway to replace 50-year-old windmills with fewer and larger ones, the companies are making use of new techniques in risk mapping to avoid the numbers of raptor deaths that have become part of the political fabric of the Altamont Wind Resource Area.

Green film festivals showcase local flavor

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It’s showtime. What better way to spend a blustery day in early March than to visit the two green film festivals in San Francisco? This year’s line-up features a number of films from Bay Area filmmakers and ones that touch on local topics. Among them is Bay Area filmmaker Jon Shenk’s “The Island President” about how the recently ousted leader of the Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed, is trying to save his country from being the first obliterated by sea level rise. In an interview, Shenk explains why all coastal cities — including Bay Area cities — should take what’s happening in the Maldives to heart.

Benicia wants to run state park on California’s dime

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The cash-strapped city of Benicia has come up with a novel way to keep its local state recreation area open and off the list of California park closures: get the state to foot the bill. The city says it can operate the 500-acre park at less than half the state’s budget.

Great year to view monarch butterflies

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Monarchs may be the most celebrated and regal of the Lepidoptera, and they’re hitting record highs in the Bay Area. Ardenwood Historic Farm in Fremont is estimating their numbers at 4,200, which is 10 times the normal count. Grab your binoculars.

Christmas Bird Count is serious citizen science

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Some say it’s a “military style” operation, and surely the level of expertise in the field can be intimidating. But the Christmas Bird Count is also great fun for normally solitary birders and a chance to grow the next generation of naturalists.

Big solar on ice in Alameda County

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After one solar company proposed covering 2,000 acres of open space in eastern Alameda County, county planning officials are preparing a new solar policy that will take into account environmental concerns like the loss of wildlife habitat. The debate is the latest in a series of clashes nationwide between green power and conservation.

Pinnacles tests out tribe’s fire tradition

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When Europeans arrived at what is now Pinnacles National Monument, the land was not exactly a “pristine” or “untouched” vision of nature, but rather a managed ecosystem that itself had become dependent on fires set by the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band. Scientists are studying the traditional fire practices to help the ecosystem build greater resilience to major disturbances like climate change.

Fake grass in Golden Gate Park worries bird advocates

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The Beach Chalet Athletic Fields may not seem like an ecological oasis, but environmentalists are fighting a San Francisco plan to replace natural grass with artificial turf. They say the move would turn foraging grounds into the ecological equivalent of a parking lot. City officials say the fake grass is needed to help it meet growing recreational needs.

High tech robots may launch new era in ocean exploration

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Four surfboard-sized vehicles set sail off the coast of the San Francisco Bay on Thursday in an attempt to break world records in ocean exploration and robotics. The “wave gliders” will, if successful, traverse the longest distance of any unmanned ocean craft as they cross the Pacific Ocean.

Groups Sue SF Over Sharp Park

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Environmental groups have filed suit against the city of San Francisco under claims it’s violating the Endangered Species Act at Sharp Park Golf Course. The groups say that San Francisco, which owns and operates the 90-year old golf course in Pacifica, is harming two imperiled species: the California red-legged frog and the San Francisco garter snake.