The Cosumnes Preserve near I-5 in the Central Valley is a surprising mosaic of flooded rice fields teeming with birds, breached levees creating new forests, and a river reclaiming a landscape.
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.
The East Bay is home to 44 creeks that drain into San Francisco Bay—from small but well-protected Wildcat Creek in the north to the 700 square miles of Alameda Creek’s watershed to the south.
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.
The return of endangered coho salmon to their ancestral spawning grounds in this west Marin watershed is an essential component of the connective tissue that holds a fragmented ecosystem together. Greeting the salmon tethers us to the landscape’s seasonal rhythms and reawakens a lineage that goes back to the first inhabitants of this place.