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.

Life on Black Mountain

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Q: Getting permission to live in a cabin on Black Mountain Ranch (in the hills east of Palo Alto) in 1975 must have been pretty exciting for a graduate student with a young family. A: I was working on a … Read more

The Essential Tree

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It’s almost impossible to imagine the California landscape without oak woodlands. But this most familiar and prolific habitat faces a number of serious threats, including unchecked suburban development and Sudden Oak Death. Fortunately, many parks in the Bay Area, including those of the East Bay Regional Parks, offer welcome refuge for a variety of oak woodlands.

Four Threats to a Healthy Bay

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Habitat Loss On the fringes of the Bay lie the varied wetlands that feed and shelter the Bay’s wildlife. Chinook salmon, white croaker, and northern pintails feed in the shallow water as it fluctuates with the tides. Topsmelt, Pacific staghorn … Read more

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.