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Getting Burned

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Fire dwells deep in the human psyche. It is among the oldest of words, the most elemental of tools, and the primary means by which early man projected himself onto the world. The torch and the hearth fire enabled our … Read more

Out of the Flames

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On October 3, 1995, a wildfire erupted on Mount Vision at Point Reyes National Seashore. Before the flames were extinguished a week later, 12,000 acres of this popular park had been scorched, and 45 nearby homes burned to the ground. A decade later, we return to Point Reyes for a lesson in local fire ecology to see how the landscape—and the community—were reshaped and renewed by the blaze.

Letter from the Publisher

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Parking the car in front of my house a few weeks ago, I noticed movement across the street. It was a deer—a mature doe, I believe—walking up the sidewalk in the early evening twilight. Aware of my presence, but not … Read more

The Deer Next Door

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It certainly seems that we’re seeing more deer all over our neighborhoods. But how can these large mammals make a living among all the cars and houses? Writer Bruce Morris took the time to observe the deer in his suburban Belmont backyard. What he learned may surprise you: These deer weren’t just “making do”; they were thriving. With surprisingly small home ranges, suburbanized deer are redefining our built landscapes to fit their needs—an orchard becomes a fawning zone, an abandoned garden a nursery, a wooded lot a feeding area.

The Lost Trails of Santa Clara

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According to the ranchers and cowboys who ran cattle in the rugged Diablo Range southeast of San Jose, Sada Sutcliffe Coe (1910-1979) could ride a horse as well, if not better, than any of them. Several years of “proper” education … Read more

Voice of the Volcano

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We all know that the East Bay hills are ripe for an earthquake, but volcanoes? Don’t look for lava in the headlines anytime soon, but there is a place in Oakland where an ancient volcano has laid bare a tale of fiery eruptions, long-extinct ecosystems, and the massive movements of tectonic plates. Many people go to Sibley Regional Preserve for the views of Mount Diablo or the quirky labyrinths at the bottoms of old quarry pits. But look closely at the trailside rocks, and you’ll see lava flows and a volcano turned on its side!

Bay Area Butterfly Resources

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The Bay Area is home to almost 150 species of butterflies, skippers, and moths—and to quite a few butterfly lovers as well. If you number yourself among that group, spring is high season. Here’s a sampling of local butterfly events: … Read more

Peaceful Coexistence with Deer

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The first time I began to pay closer attention to the small band of Columbian blacktail deer that coexist—more or less peacefully—with my neighborhood’s human residents was during the summer of 1997 while working outside on my house in Belmont … Read more

Art on the Wing

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The Bay Area is home to a surprising variety of butterflies, moths, and skippers; local artist and avid lepidopterist Liam O’Brien gets outside with his field journal whenever he can, to record them with his unusual mixture of drawing, painting, collage, and writing. A beautiful sunny day out in the oak savanna of Mount Diablo brought two rare species into view, and onto the pages of Liam’s notebook.

Coe Kaleidoscope

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When it comes to wildflowers, you can’t do any better than a visit to Henry Coe, Northern California’s largest state park. Winslow Briggs, who wrote the book on the park’s trails, walks us through a year of blooms, taking us from season to season in a wild but accessible landscape.