John Hart

Marin County freelancer John Hart is the author of many articles and several books on environmental issues in the Bay Area, including Farming on the Edge (UC Press, 1992), San Francisco Bay: Portrait of an Estuary (UC Press, 2003) with photos by David Sanger, and Legacy: Portraits of 50 Bay Area Environmental Elders (UC Press, 2006) with photos by the late Nancy Kittle.

The View from the Can Club

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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

View from the Farm

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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

Guaranteed Returns

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Sure, it can be frustrating to see that land purchased for a park is still closed to the public. But buying open space is only the first step in creating a new park. After that come the land-use plans and the search for funds to pay for facilities and staff. Here we take a look at what it will take for the East Bay Regional Park District to transform the 15,000 acres in its land bank into parks.

Canvasback

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On an early map of San Pablo Bay, made in 1775, the Spanish explorer Jose Canizares wrote this phrase: “forests of the red duck.” The “forests” were the North Bay marshes, and the “red duck” was Aythya valisneria, the canvasback. … Read more

Livermore Valley

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Along Tesla Avenue at the south edge of Livermore, rows of grapevines angle from the roadside, showing a trace of fall color on their taut wires. Almost within earshot of the bustle of town, it’s the kind of place you’d … Read more

People and Easements

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From a modern house on a knoll in the Nicasio Valley, Randy Lafranchi, fifth-generation Marin County dairyman and second-generation easement partner, surveys his family’s domain. Most of its 1,200 acres, from ridgetop to county road to water district reservoir, lie … Read more

Private Land, Public Good

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How do you preserve significant parcels of open space in an era of rising land prices and shrinking public budgets? In the 1990s, more Bay Area land was protected using conservation easements, where the owner can stay on the land but gives up development rights, than by outright purchase. Though not without their critics, easements are reshaping the way we go about saving our local landscapes.

San Mateo Coast

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South of San Francisco, the Peninsula displays a kind of natural zoning-by-topography. On the east side, along the Bay, is where most people live. To the west is a chain of lofty, forested hills, the Santa Cruz Mountains; farther west … Read more

Sonoma County

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Like San Mateo County, Sonoma County has both a private nonprofit land trust and a government body working to protect the landscape, though here the trust came first. The Sonoma Land Trust set up shop in 1976 and acquired some … Read more

West Marin

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Driving out to the coast among the seemingly endless ranks of Marin County hills, studded with rock outcrops and spotted with grazing cows, you can feel the calmness that flows from a stable landscape. It has always been this way, … Read more