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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

Sonar Testing and Gray Whales

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In mid-November, a federal judge gave the U.S. Navy permission to test its Low-Frequency Array (LFA) sonar in the western Pacific Ocean. The system transmits sounds up to 215 decibels, approximately equivalent to the noise of an F-15 fighter jet … Read more

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.

Do Any Bay Area Animals Hibernate in Winter?

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Our temperate climate here in the Bay Area means that most inhabitants don’t have to hibernate. Hibernation is a form of adaptive hypothermia, a continuum of responses to climatic variations that allow an animal to save energy by temporarily abandoning … Read more

Fluke or Fixture

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An increasing number of gray whales have been spotted in San Francisco Bay in recent years. Why are these aquatic giants venturing here now in greater numbers? Are they temporary refugees? Or are they adding a regular stop on their 10,000-mile-long migration route?

Creating a Creekside Haven

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When she gets out of the shower in the morning, Sue LaTourrette might find herself standing 10 feet from a great egret. “We live on a creek,” she says, “so we were used to wildlife. But we never had herons … Read more

Drawing with a Local Palette

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If not for an unassuming wire fence, you might mistake Judith Larner Lowry’s garden for one of nature’s own. The tall wooden gate resists slightly, then yields, permitting the visitor to step into a quiet community of coastal scrub. Undulating … Read more

Starting with the Oaks

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A winding path through Kathy Welch’s garden leads to an oak grove. Photo by Saxon Holt. Kathy Welch had already begun to consider renovating her yard in the Oakland hills when she made a few discoveries. “I found a trillium … Read more