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.
About the only thing people agree on about the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta–the subject of countless white papers, editorials, and political debates–is that it’s in a heap of trouble. But this 1,000-square-mile patchwork of islands, sloughs, wetlands, and farmlands is also a rich and complex–if highly altered–ecosystem at the core of the San Francisco Estuary. Here we take a look behind today’s news to understand what the Delta once was, how it has been changed, and what it might become . . . with a lot of help from its friends.
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.
On a fall day in duck hunting season, the sound of shotgun fire echoes across the Napa-Sonoma Marshes. It will continue to do so. Here as elsewhere, hunters have paid a good share of the cost of habitat protection, and … Read more
You reach Fred Dickson’s place by turning south off Highway 37 near Sears Point on Reclamation Road, the very name a reminder of the glory days of diking and draining. “This was nothing but a marsh at the beginning of … 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
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
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
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