In the San Francisco Bay Area, slices of nature pop up in the most unexpected places, a testament to the region's wealth in biodiversity and the resilience of its natural systems. Bringing nature to urban areas is not just about ensuring the survival of species, but enhancing people's quality of life through a fulfillment of our innate need to be with nature.

Big Birds in the Big City

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When not visiting her hometown of Brooklyn, New York, to “perfect her accent,” Nancy DeStefanis is helping kids discover nature through San Francisco Nature Education, the grassroots environmental education organization she founded in 2000. Many programs center around the herons and egrets that nest at Stow Lake, in Golden Gate Park.

Help for the Sparrows of Golden Gate Park

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Every September, people flock to Golden Gate Park’s Sharon Meadow to enjoy the arias sung during Opera in the Park. But there is another free concert at the other end of the park: the song of the Nuttall’s white-crowned sparrow. A new restoration project aims to help the sparrows sing a bit louder.

EndangerBus Feature: Rapid Transit

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Imagine a time when buses and streetcars and trains are everywhere in San Francisco, when everyone takes transit and almost no one owns a private car. This was close to reality just 70 years ago. Since then the urban ecosystem has changed, and buses were outcompeted by private cars. Today, though, that urban ecosystem might be changing again.

Next Frontier for Restoration: Your Backyard

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Environmental action often hinges on what not to do at home: don’t leave lights on, don’t bring home plastic bags, don’t use pesticides. But what about actively creating a wildlife habitat right outside your backdoor? San Franciscans will soon have help doing just that, from the nonprofit Nature in the City, which will offer backyard habitat services.

“Nature Belongs in Our Cities”

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Ruth Gravanis is a long-time advocate for the protection and restoration of San Francisco’s natural ecosystems. In her efforts to preserve these precious remnants, she has volunteered countless hours with many organizations, from the Friends of Candlestick Point, to the Sierra Club to Nature in the City. She’s currently advocating for the rich and varied native habitats of Yerba Buena Island, and for sustainable development of the island.

Park(ing) Day Highlights Need for Urban Green Space

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Parking spaces are precious commodities in downtown San Francisco and San Jose, but this Friday dozens of groups will be using these spots not to park but as parks. Artists and citizens use metered parking spaces to set up small, often movable parks for people to enjoy–as long as the meter runs.

Artist Plants Comics at UC Botanical Garden

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For the The University of California Botanical Garden in the Berkeley Hills is home to one of the nation’s largest collections of plant life. It houses many rare and endangered plants hard to find anywhere else, and for the month of July, it also houses comics. Yes, comics.

Habitat and Humanity

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With millions of people and millions of acres of open space, the Bay Area is a lively, and sometimes uneasy, blend of wild and urban. In the East Bay, dozens of rare species — from birds along the Bay to wildflowers in the hills — survive against the odds thanks in part to the East Bay Regional Park District, whose staff does everything from creating nesting islands to clearing trees for the sake of imperiled plants and animals.