Superhighways stay out of the Delta, mostly. But if you have ever driven on Interstate 5 south of Stockton, you have just grazed one of the southernmost Delta islands, Stewart Tract. Filling the angle between the San Joaquin River and Paradise Cut, one of that river’s lesser branches, it is also at the intersection of two specifically South Delta concerns: urbanization and flood control.
The Delta’s westernmost island, which shields major water-export pumps from incoming saltwater, is a testing ground for several efforts to prepare this fragile region for the threats of sea level rise and levee degradation.
This flooded island has become a surprising refuge for endangered Delta smelt, which have ended up living here full time, much to the surprise of biologists. But an invading exotic plant threatens that success, unless land managers can make some changes to tilt the game back in the smelt’s favor.
Fenced off in plain sight for decades, the Concord Naval Weapons Station is the largest piece of undeveloped, unprotected land in Contra Costa County. Now, after years of debate and planning, a large portion of the former base is poised to become a major new regional park, as well as a critical open space link and wildlife corridor stretching from the summit of Mount Diablo to the shores of Suisun Bay.
Along the gentle arc of the northern San Pablo Bay shoreline, one of the region’s least loved highways, Highway 37, traverses one of its most fascinating landscapes. Best to be in the passenger seat, for the country you are traversing deserves far more than a stolen glance…
Defining the edge of a shifting body of water like San Francisco Bay, whose exact extent changes with every tide, every season, every storm, can be tricky business. In our region the regulators sometimes fall back on a botanical criterion. … Read more
We are somewhere west of the Napa River, nosing in a small boat along a slough between hollow islands known as Pond 2 and Pond 5, trying to grasp just how much has changed hereabouts in the last 24 months. … Read more
The southernmost hump of the Sears Point ridge, known locally as Cougar Mountain, looms over Highway 37. Not its height but its isolated station makes it visible from highways and byways all over the North Bay. Now its windswept slopes … Read more
Everybody knows about the California clapper rail, the charismatic (though elusive) endangered bird of San Francisco Bay marshes. The San Pablo Baylands shelter almost half its known population. But here the clapper shares the wetland with its smaller, quieter, and … Read more
When Greg Sarris of Santa Rosa, an adopted child, learned that his paternal grandmother was a Coast Miwok, it opened the door to a whole alternative culture. He would soon begin to explore that heritage, absorb it, and work to … Read more