Human settlement in the San Francisco Bay Area dates back 10,000 years to early Native American settlements. Today, the region is a teeming metropolis of 7 million people that collectively challenge the health of the region's ecosystems. How it got this way is a story that prompts a deeper understanding of our place in the landscape.

Toward A Healthy Bay

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In the 40 years since the movement to save San Francisco Bay began, we have moved from desperately fending off more bay fill projects to proactively restoring thousands of acres of shoreline wetlands. Yet how healthy is the Bay that we are saving? What are the factors that affect the health of the Bay and what are we doing about them?

Eye to Eye with Otters

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Dubbed the cosmic center of the universe by locals, Elkhorn Slough is one of the richest wetlands along the California coast, a magnet for wildlife and humans alike. And the best way to see it all is in a kayak.

A History of the Reservoirs of the East Bay

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Lakes aren’t a natural feature of the coast range landscape. But since cities need places to store drinking water, we drowned some valleys for reservoirs. While precious creek habitat was lost, these man-made lakes now draw bald eagles and other wildlife, as well as thousands of human visitors for swimming, fishing, boating and other summer pastimes.

How Grit and Grace Saved Marincello

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Of course the Marin Headlands–a favorite destination for hikers, bicyclers, birdwatchers, wildflower enthusiasts, and beachgoers–is protected open space. What else could it be? Would you believe…a city of 30,000? It almost was. But thanks to some determined citizens and a little bit of luck, one half of the Golden Gate will remain wild forever.

On Sacred Places

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Tom Smith. A simple name. Not so the man. My great-great-grand-father. Father and grandfather and great-grandfather to many Coast Miwok and Pomo people. I’ve told stories about him, stories I have heard, stories others tell: how he performed miracles healing … Read more

The Fire Down Below

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A shower of magma-heated liquid and steam makes for more than just a pretty Calistoga postcard. It’s a 30-million-year-old lesson in California’s dynamic underground history of sliding plates, volcanic eruptions, and molten rock.

Between River and Bay

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At the intersection of coastal tides and inland rivers there’s a place that’s rich in history and full of life. The Delta has been greatly altered by human hands, but at Big Break Regional Shoreline, its watery charms are accessible to those willing to venture off the beaten path.

Rooted in History

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Once a major crossroads for the Coast Miwok, and briefly a home for the Grateful Dead, Rancho Olompali now sits quietly beside Highway 101 north of Novato. But follow its trails and you’ll hear the echoes of the voices of those who came before.

Whaling from San Francisco Bay

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Though whales were never hunted in San Francisco Bay itself, the whaling industry had a long presence here. Beginning in the 1830s, whaling ships of British and New England–based fleets wintered in San Francisco Bay. A hundred ships or more … Read more

A Redwood Century at Big Basin

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At the dawn of the 20th century, a number of Peninsula residents—including photographer Andrew Hill and lawyer Delphin Delmas—watched in horror as loggers cut their way into groves of ancient redwoods in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Determined to preserve these Titanic offsprings of Nature for future generations, these pioneering citizens banded together to lobby for the creation of California’s first state park—Big Basin.