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.

Left to Burn

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At the turn of the 20th Century, the California Academy of Sciences was the oldest scientific society in the western United States. From its humble beginnings in 1853 as California’s de facto cabinet of curiosities stemming from “the systematic survey … Read more

Betting on Point Molate

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With stunning views of the Bay and Marin, Richmond’s Point Molate has seen a lot of changes: It’s been a shrimp camp, a huge winery, and a Navy fuel depot. Now the site of a controversial casino proposal, this modest point of land is home to diverse wildlife and some of the East Bay’s last native coastal prairie.

Don’t Call Them Bugs

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Edward Ross has visited every continent except Antarctica in pursuit of his passion for studying, collecting, dissecting, classifying, naming, photographing, and deeply appreciating insects. In between his globe-trotting adventures, the 89-year old curator emeritus of entomology at the California Academy … Read more

Pioneering Women Naturalists of the Bay Area

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From a modern perspective, it is difficult to imagine the time when women in this country were discouraged from seriously pursuing vocations in science and natural history. But until the late 1800s, there were few if any women working in … Read more

First Encounters

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When European explorers and naturalists began coming to California a few centuries ago, most sailed right past the fog-shrouded Golden Gate. But those few who did stop here, including the botanist-poet who first described the California poppy, left tantalizing clues to the world they saw before the Gold Rush transformed the Bay Area from backwater to boomtown.

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

Wild Gardens

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A visit to remnant native grasslands in Richmond or diverse oak woodlands in eastern Alameda County gives a taste of our region’s native habitats. But few of us are aware of an important element that helped shape those habitats: the regimes of burning, pruning, and digging carried out over centuries by the East Bay’s indigenous inhabitants, some of whom still carry on those traditions today.

Eastshore Park, Two Decades in the Making

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Eastshore State Park, an 8.5-mile-long ribbon of East Bay shoreline between the Bay Bridge and Richmond’s Marina Bay, is proof that many good things don’t come easily. The park is the result of 20 years of advocacy, negotiation, and planning … Read more

New Life For The Laguna

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Thirty years ago, few people gave a second thought to the Laguna de Santa Rosa, the North Coast’s largest freshwater wetland. The once-teeming marshland had become a dumping ground. But things are changing, and this complex waterway is finally beginning to recover some of its former glory.