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Apr-Jun 2012

Our spring issue brings you the latest on the movement to save state parks, asks tough questions about wild food foraging, showcases the unusual Santa Cruz Sandhills, and more. For our state parks special, reporter Joan Hamilton talked to regular people mobilizing in advance of the July 2012 deadline to close 60+ state parks. Jonah Raskin headed out with local foragers to both savor mushrooms and ponder the ethics of same. We also help you spot dinosaurs in your backyard, adorable stingrays in the bay, and more. Order your copy today! Cover photo: Joshua Yospyn, yospyn.com.


Wanted: Sand for Endangered Butterfly

May 03, 2012 by Aleta George

The imperiled Lange’s metalmark butterfly lives only on a small stretch of remnant dunes near Antioch. Managers of the Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge hope to create precious new habitat, while a captive-breeding program keeps the butterflies just short of extinction.

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Why do pelicans fly so low?

June 12, 2012 by Michael Ellis

Learn a few secrets of efficiency from the majestic pelican.


The Forager’s Dilemma

April 02, 2012 by Jonah Raskin

Just a century ago, foraging for wild foods would have been unremarkable–part of daily life for many people. That’s not true today, but foraging is making a comeback, with ever more people interested in finding food in the wild. But with a growing population and diminishing natural resources, is this sustainable? We head out with local foragers and ask about the ethics of foraging in a metropolis.


The Parks and the People

April 01, 2012 by Joan Hamilton

Some 70 state parks were scheduled to be closed on July 1, 2012. But determined action by park-loving citizens around the state has succeeded in getting some parks removed from that list and has opened a discussion of the relationship between public parks and the people they serve. We visit four parks around the state […]

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Youth Engagement Award: Sean FitzHoward

May 30, 2012 by Laura Hautala

Sean FitzHoward has a head start on contributing to local conservation. At 16, the high school junior has already completed an internship with The Bay Institute. Now she’s volunteering with the California Academy of Sciences. She also founded and runs the Protect the Bay Club at San Francisco’s Lowell High School. We caught up with her at Crissy Field to talk about her passion for local environmental action.

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The Grass Really Is Greener

April 24, 2012 by Jacoba Charles

A project in West Marin shows how ranchers, and a whole lot of compost, can help mitigate climate change.


All Hail Hulet Hornbeck

May 09, 2012 by Aleta George

The Bay Area lost a giant of park-building with the passing of Hulet Hornbeck, who presided over the creation of 49,000 acres of parkland at the East Bay Regional Park District.

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Bat Rays in San Francisco Bay

May 15, 2012 by Joe Eaton

What’s the cutest fish in the sea? To some biologists, it’s the bat ray, which cruises along the floor of local bays and estuaries, chomping on clams and other creatures. Maybe it’s time to make bottom-feeder a term of endearment! Springtime is breeding time for these friendly fish.

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Lifeline from the Feds

April 10, 2012 by Joan Hamilton

Samuel P. Taylor State Park in Marin is a popular destination for many of the millions of people who live within a short drive of this secluded redwood forest. With the park facing closure, the National Park Service stepped in to pay park operating costs.

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Birding with Kids

April 18, 2012 by Scott Sampson

With dinosaurs roaming your backyard on a daily basis, why NOT get out there with your kids and start watching those birds?

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McGrath’s Army Takes Back the Beach

April 17, 2012 by Joan Hamilton

McGrath State Beach has plenty of visitors and plenty of revenue. So how did it end up on the closure list? The park’s sewer line was broken, and the state couldn’t afford to fix it. But the local community rallied around the park, raised the money to fix the sewer, and now the park will stay open.

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Cargo Ships Keep Bringing Invasives to the Bay

June 07, 2012 by Aleta George

A recent study has proven the obvious: San Francisco Bay is a major conduit for invasive species. And the biggest culprit? Cargo ships and their ballast water. Environmentalists are now pushing for new treatment requirements to stem the tide of alien species.

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Conservation Action Award: Ellie Cohen

May 30, 2012 by Daniel McGlynn

Ellie Cohen became president and CEO of what is now PRBO Conservation Science in 1999. Under her leadership, the organization has grown from the local Point Reyes Bird Observatory, founded in 1965, to a hemisphere-scale operation, conducting bird-focused applied ecosystem studies on land and at sea. PRBO uses its wealth of data and partnerships to assess and reduce the impacts of changes in climate and land use on ecosystem health.

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Rural Refuge in the Redwoods

April 19, 2012 by Joan Hamilton

For residents and businesses in the Anderson Valley, 845-acre Hendy Woods State Park has an importance far beyond its size. It’s one of few public open spaces in this mostly rural region, and now residents are doing their best to make a plan to keep the park open.

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Discovering Past Landscapes with Robin Grossinger

June 06, 2012 by Daniel McGlynn

Robin Grossinger directs San Francisco Estuary Institute’s Historical Ecology Program. Grossinger’s team uses hundreds of historical texts, photographs, and survey maps to depict what the Bay Area used to look like to help inform present and future stewardship, including several extensive restoration projects around the region.

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State Parks Crisis: Get Involved!

April 01, 2012 by Kelly Hackett

We’ve rounded up the key links you need to plug into the movement to save California’s state parks.

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Foraging 101

April 10, 2012 by Dan Rademacher

Want to forage in a local park? Chances are it’s not allowed, but some parks do allow limited gathering of edible berries and mushrooms. In January 2012, we gathered up the rules from a couple of dozen agencies. But caveat emptor: they may have changed since then.

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Good News for the Carmel River

April 09, 2012 by Aleta George

After 130 years of tough times, the Carmel River is finally catching a break from a few big restoration projects.

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HELiOS Project: Helping Schools Go Solar

June 27, 2012 by Daniel McGlynn

What better place than at school to get going on solar? The HELiOS project is making it happen for Bay Area schools.

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Letter from the Publisher

June 15, 2012 by David Loeb

As I write this note at the beginning of March, we’re enjoying our sixth weekend in a row without rain, spanning a period that’s generally the height of the Bay Area’s rainy season. For those of us who work all week and like to play outside on the weekends, this is great . . . […]

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The Parks and the People

April 01, 2012 by Joan Hamilton

Some 70 state parks were scheduled to be closed on July 1, 2012. But determined action by park-loving citizens around the state has succeeded in getting some parks removed from that list and has opened a discussion of the relationship between public parks and the people they serve. We visit four parks around the state to see what the future might hold for our beloved, but beleaguered, state parks.

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Reclaiming the Richmond Shoreline

April 05, 2012 by Nate Seltenrich

At the northwestern edge of Richmond, near Point Pinole Regional Shoreline, a modest bayshore wetland stands ready to emerge from decades of neglect. Thanks to the residents of nearby Parchester Village and staff of the East Bay Regional Park District, Breuner Marsh will become precious public recreation land and a refuge for sensitive species imperiled by sea level rise.

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Saving Mono Lake State Reserve

April 16, 2012 by Joan Hamilton

If any landscape can be called iconic, Mono Lake surely makes the cut. But with no revenue, the state park here faced closure–until John Muir’s great-great-grandson joined with local park supporters to rescue the park. With a new parking fee in place, the park is safe, for now.

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River of Words, Home to Roost at Saint Mary’s

April 16, 2012 by Aleta George

Poet Robert Hass awakened a lifelong love of nature while a student at Saint Mary’s College. Now, River of Words, the art and poetry program he cofounded, has found a home at the college.

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The Hole Story

April 01, 2012 by John Muir Laws

Mole or gopher? Jack Laws gives us the hole story!

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The Rare Santa Cruz Sandhills and the People who Love Them

April 13, 2012 by Marilyn Fahey

In the Santa Cruz Mountains, some passionate folks look after rare plants and animals in a unique habitat defined by sand but threatened by mining, development, and fragmentation.


Safe Fishing with Kids for the Bay

May 01, 2012 by Melati Kaye

Thanks to the nonprofit Kids for the Bay, each year a few thousand kids learn firsthand why those “Drains to Bay” stencils on storm grates are so important — and why eating fish from San Francisco Bay may not always be a good idea.

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