In this issue, you’ll find out how volunteers are helping save state parks, from Jack London to Henry Coe.
What's cool as a cucumber, bitter as the biblical waters of Marah, and so well-rooted in the Bay Area that pulling it up is futile?
The Bay Area program of the California Coastal Conservancy has been protecting critical open space landscapes and wetlands around the region for 15 years now. However, the program's anniversary is bittersweet: The sense of accomplishment from having played a central role in conserving 80,500 acres of valuable habitats and recreational open space is tempered by the knowledge that the program could soon run out of money.
Thornewood Open Space Preserve above the town of Woodside isn't easy to find--unless you're a weed. This area is the only site in California where the plant has been found, but this invasive perennial bunchgrass native to Eurasia and North Africa has infested 10,000 acres in Oregon. A project from the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District aims to make sure that doesn’t happen here.
With the clock ticking toward a February deadline, the nonprofit Solano Land Trust is working to purchase 1,500 acres of land known as Rockville Trails in Solano County. Recently, a lawsuit put a stop to development plans and allowed the land trust to buy 330 acres of the property, with an option to purchase the remaining 1,170 acres for $15.5 million by February 28, 2012.
In late August, environmental scientist Laura Rogers-Bennett was driving back to Bodega Bay after conducting ocean surveys in Mendocino when she saw "dark-coffee-colored water" north of Salt Point State Park. Within days, dead sea stars, abalones, urchins, and chitons were piling up on area beaches.
The Ocean | Wildlife
Bay Nature mourns the untimely passing of David Yearsley, the founder and executive director of the Friends of the Petaluma River, in September 2011.
Proponents of the Yolo Bypass Floodplain Fishery Enhancement Project are starting small but thinking big. During the first year of the pilot project, scientists will test whether raising juvenile chinook salmon on flooded rice fields in the Yolo Bypass will help the fish get stronger and bigger before being flushed down to San Francisco Bay and out to the Pacific.
Farming and Ranching
Workers digging the new fourth bore of the Caldecott Tunnel are getting a once-in-a-lifetime view of one of the defining features of the East Bay: the range of hills that runs from San Pablo Bay south to Fremont. By visiting just a few accessible sites aboveground, you can find clues that tell the story of how these hills rose from their humble origins as deep ocean sediments and volcanic flows to the iconic fault-riddled hillsides of today.
Jean Rusmore first visited Hidden Villa as a college student in 1942, and she’s been going ever since.
New artificial islands at Oakland’s Arrowhead Marsh provide some welcome refuge for endangered clapper rails. But can they be expanded into enough other habitats to keep the birds safe from rising sea levels?
Climate Change | The Bay | Wildlife
In spring 2011, the bad news about California's state parks hit: 70 parks were slated for closure by July 2012, including 18 in the Bay Area. Since then, volunteers, nonprofits, and public agencies have mobilized to contain the damage. At Henry Coe State Park, donations will keep the park running with existing staff. In Sonoma, closure loomed for five parks and groups have joined forces to create new models of park operation.
As I write this on Thanksgiving weekend, I have many things to be grateful for. For example: On Thanksgiving morning, I watched a huge raft of cormorants take off from the surface of the Bay in front of Angel Island. But behind such moments and places of great beauty, several dark clouds are gathering.
Next time you and your kids head outdoors, you can combine fun, games, and learning to make that hike into a kid-centric adventure! We give it a try in San Francisco.
Kids and Nature
To launch our new series on climate change in the Bay Area, we follow a group of researchers as they scan the bottom, poke the mud, and gauge the tides at Marin's Corte Madera Marsh, in the first comprehensive, interdisciplinary effort to understand how the Bay Area's tidal wetlands will respond to rising sea levels.
Climate Change | The Bay
Whether you're looking for lessons in seed saving or hikes in nature, you'll find them in the hills above Los Altos at Hidden Villa, which was home to the region's first youth hostel and interracial summer camp.
Farming and Ranching | Kids and Nature | Stewardship