In the beginning this blog was centered on San Francisco parks and open space issues with special emphasis on natural areas and natural history. Over time it began to range into other areas and topics. As you can see, it is eclectic, as I interlace it with topics of interest to me.

I welcome feedback: just click this link to reach me.

Saturday, May 19, 2012


1.   Three important meetings on SF's Natural Areas Management Plan
2.   Central Subway - North Beach construction impacts information meeting May 22
3.   California animal legislation - status report as of May 15
4.   Save local newspapers - Pacific Tribune this time
5.   Living New Deal making visible the achievements of the New Deal
6.   Achievements of the Coastal Conservancy - staggering
7.   In Praise of the Great Bull Walrus
8.   Stories in the Sand - first-ever history book of the Sunset May 21
9.    This is your year to go on Muir's March - information calls May 22 & 24
10.  Friends of 5 Creeks - two creek beautification projects
11.  Ever heard of Water Underground?  Me neither, but may be interesting
12.  Phenotyping Health: Tools & Targets - now FREE
13.  Identifying California grasses/Tamalpais Grassland Ecology, IDing, Monitoring
14.  Go Deeper Than Love, D.H. Lawrence
15.   Audubon acquires nature preserve in Mayacamas Mtns/nesting great egrets at ACR
16.  Where to get a bird bath?
17.  Partial solar eclipse Sunday 20 May visible in Bay Area
18.  Feedback
19.  Real estate landlords' views of lawless, rule-less dogs
20.  Should Bay Area communities consider desalination?
21.  Silicon Valley potpourri on low carbon, sustainability
22.  Kinetic sculpture/Prince Charles reads the royal weather

If words are to enter men's minds and bear fruit, they must be the right words shaped cunningly to pass men's defenses and explode silently and effectually within their minds. -J.B. Phillips, writer and clergyman (1906-1982)

1.  Significant Natural Resource Areas Management Plan

Jake: The May edition of the West Portal Monthly has an excellent article by Supervisor Elsbernd on the Significant Natural Areas Management Plan EIR for Mt. Davidson which refutes the spurious campaign now underway by the S.F. Forest Alliance to "Ax the Natural Areas Program".  It would be helpful if supporters of the NAP thanked him for his willingness to address this subject. Best Regards. Patrick Skain.

Dear Supervisor Elsbernd: Thank you for clarifying the impact of the work proposed by the RPD and the Significant Natural Areas Management Plan for Mt. Davidson. Your article in the West Portal Monthly was much needed to provide some balance to the current propaganda barrage headed by the newly formed San Francisco Forest Alliance. I attended the hosted walk sponsored by SFFA on Mt. Davidson a month ago, and I found the leader to be highly biased. I occasionally visited Mt. Davidson as a young boy. Having a dozen eucalyptus trees in my own back yard adjacent to Pine Lake Park, I understand their usefulness to raptors and other birds: but I also know the importance of a vibrant understory if a variety plants and animals are to thrive. I support the changes incorporated in the Significant Natural Areas Management Plan, and I hope the Plan EIR is certified with few changes. In future Mt. Davidson might be a bright and cheery place to visit. Thank you again for providing facts instead of hysteria on this subject. Patrick Skain

There are three upcoming public meetings regarding the Natural Areas Plan and Program that are important to attend if you want to defend
this important program.

·         Monday May 21 at 7:30 - The West of Twin Peaks Central Council at Forest Hill Clubhouse, 381 Magellan Ave., San Francisco 

·         Tuesday June 5 at 7:30 - Greater West Portal Neighborhood Association at West Portal Playground Clubhouse, 139 Lenox Way, San

·         Tuesday June 5 at 6.30 - Room 278   in City Hall - PROSAC will discuss the Natural Areas Management Plan

JS:  There has been much misinformation about the City's Natural Areas Program disseminated.  Some of it is based on misunderstanding or misinformation.  The latter is deliberately propagated by certain people or groups with hidden agendas, and they have been trying to destroy the Program for >ten years now.

I have been critical of the workings of some City agencies or programs, including those of RecPark, with which I'm familiar due to my 32 years employment by the Dept, plus 23 years of volunteering for it.  I know the good and the bad in this Dept, and I can tell you that the Natural Areas Program is a very well run program and staffed with motivated people intensely involved with their work.  How many programs or agencies can you say that about?  Recognize good govt when you see it, and support it.  You know what happens when you don't.

Destroying the program is not an option for the City in any case.  It has 32 natural areas to manage (one in Sharp Park), and land must be managed, especially when it is as used, misused, and abused as our natural areas are.  There are user conflicts, invasion by unpleasant weedy growth, and severe erosion--just to name three items for starters.  In future issues of this newsletter I will from time to time identify other issues and problems which everyone should be concerned about, including the Program detractors, and I will tell the reason why they should support it.  The Program Management Plan is expected to come back to the RecPark Commission this autumn for further hearings. 

In a completely rational society, the best of us would be teachers and the rest of us would have to settle for something less, because passing civilization along from one generation to the next ought to be the highest honor and the highest responsibility anyone could have. -Lee Iacocca, automobile executive (b. 1924)



Tuesday, May 22nd
6:30 - 8:00 pm

Telegraph Hill Neighborhood Center
660 Lombard St.
San Francisco, CA

Please attend a joint meeting co-sponsored by the Telegraph Hill Dwellers and the North Beach Business Association to get information from the Municipal Transportation Agency about impending construction in North Beach for the extension of the Central Subway.  

Despite its numerous flaws, Central Subway project construction continues.  The MTA is about to dig up major sections of North Beach in the coming weeks for its drilling equipment.  Come ask questions of MTA staff about the impacts that this project will have on our neighborhood for months and years to come.

For more information about the meeting contact THD Transportation and Parking Committee Chair Mike Sonn at

Find out more about the Central Subway project on THD's website at:  


3.  Eric Mills:

Hey, Jake -
The enclosed may be of interest to you and your readers.

This is a periodic legislative alert re environmental and animal welfare bills in Sacramento.  It is updated regularly by Virginia Handley,of PawPAC.


Nothing is more powerful than the written word - especially when it's written in a law book! The lives of millions of animals can be affected overnight when new laws go into effect every January 1.

PawPAC was created in 1980 as the first organization dedicated to the election of candidates for state office in California who are committed to the protection of animals. Many organizations work to help animals, but PawPAC is unique by helping to make sure that the laws protect ALL animals, whether on farms, in the wild or in our homes.

PawPAC is widely respected in the California State Legislature as effective in helping to elect pro-animal candidates, through endorsements, contributions, and annual voting charts.

PawPAC's Board includes the most experienced lobbyists for animals, with decades of lobbying for better laws to protect animals from abuse, exploitation and neglect.


4.  Are you up with the local news?  The Pacifica Tribune has been serving Pacifica "forever" and as these times have been changing, the newspaper industry is feeling it.  OUR local news in OUR local paper is the one thing many Bay Area communities admire in Pacifica and miss in their communities.   Now, we can act to help the Tribune stay in business and thrive.  They need subscriptions, we need their weekly opportunities to share our messages and educate and inspire the public!

And now, they want to help our organizations.  Sign up for or renew your subscription by June 6th and check PBC below and $2.00 of your subscription will go to the Pacifica Beach Coalition.

The Tribune has helped the Pacifica Beach Coalition reach out and recruit thousands of people for Earth Day and Coastal Cleanup Days.  It has given us opportunities to recruit for events, movies, beach, creek, and street cleanups.  And it has given us a venue to publish educational articles that bring about personal changes for the readers.  It has connected 1000's of gardeners, composters, native plant enthusiasts.

Join me in renewing my subscription and reaching out to neighbors, friends, and my extended Pacifica family to get their subscriptions.  Our groups need readers and they need subscribers.  The mission is bigger than the $2.00 donation - but that is nice too.
                        Thank you Tribune!!!  We need you and we want to help.


The Living New Deal is making visible the achievements of the New Deal, when America put millions of unemployed to work and invested in housing, health care, education, and cultural enrichment for its people. Our website is a growing database and map that show what America built during the Great Depression and could again through a new New Deal. Help us spread the word. Forward this newsletter. Add to our New Deal map. Support the Living New Deal.

Coit Tower preservation on ballot in San Francisco

Coit Tower mural "City Life" by Victor Arnautoff

Book Review: Hobos to Street People: Artists’ Response to Homelessness from the New Deal to the Present
In his book, Hobos to Street People: Artists’ Response to Homelessness from the New Deal to the Present, Art Hazelwood puts both the art and the reality of homelessness in front of a public that too often averts its eyes from the plight of those living on the streets...Read More

Find more book reviews about the New Deal or post a review in our New Deal resources section.


Arriving in mailboxes around the Bay Area this week is the 15th anniversary report of the Coastal Conservancy Bay Program. In this report there is a colorful and fascinating story about conservation in the Bay Area, and we want to make sure that you hear this story.

First, the numbers are staggering:
    •    $316,879,524 in funding
    •    $1,029,286,584 in matching funds
    •    83,772 acres of protected land
    •    Over 200 miles of regional trails
    •    50 creeks and rivers
And the specific stories and images are breath-taking.

If you'd like to read a positive story, check out this report. If you want to feel good about land conservation and the progress made to date, this is worth reading. If you care about land, this is the report for you.


In Praise of the Great Bull Walrus

I wouldn't like to be one
of the walrus people
for the rest of my life
but I wish I could spend
one sunny afternoon
lying on the rocks with them.
I suspect it would be similar
to drinking beer in a tavern
that caters to longshoremen
and won't admit women.
We'd exchange no
cosmic secrets.  I'd merely say,
"How yuh doin' you big old walrus?"
and the nearest of
the walrus people
would answer,
"Me? I'm doin' great.
How yuh doin' yourself,
you big old human being, you?"
How good it is to share
the earth with such creatures
and how unthinkable it would have been
to have missed all this
by not being born:
a happy thought, that,
for not being born is
the only tragedy
that we can imagine
but never fear.

~ Alden Nowlan ~

(Between Tears and Laughter: Selected Poems)


May General Meeting   Monday, May 21 - 7:00PM     
1736 9th Ave. / Moraga

Local historian, author, and tour guide Lorri Ungaretti will talk about her new book, Stories in the Sand, the first-ever history book on the Sunset District. The book features a researched history, quotations from people connected to the Sunset, in-depth profiles of four people who were part of the growing neighborhood, and almost 200 archival photographs.

Lorri is a native San Franciscan who leads walking tours for City Guides ( and has been researching and writing about the Sunset District for almost ten years.

She is also the author of three other books: Images of America: San Francisco’s Sunset District; Images of America: San Francisco’s Richmond District; andThen & Now: San Francisco’s Sunset District.


9.  Restore Hetch Hetchy

Thinking about joining us on Muir's March but have lots of questions?  Well we've got answers!   Join us on one of our Muir's March info calls!

Muir's March Information Calls

Tuesday, May 22 at 5:00 pm
Thursday, May 24 at 5:00 pm

RSVP to and you will receive an email with the call-in information

I will be joined by a representative of California Alpine Guides on both calls to answer all of your questions about what you might expect on this once in a lifetime experience

By participating in Muir's March you are becoming a leader in our campaign. And I guarantee you will have a blast in the process. Join us as we walk in the footsteps of John Muir---join us on Muir's March!

Mike Marshall
Executive Director

P.S. Be sure to check out the 1-day hike option--its perfect for families looking for a weekend of camping in Yosemite!


10.  Friends of Five Creeks

May 31 meeting on improving Ohlone Greenway, including Cerrito Creek.
Thanks to a state grant and work to strengthen BART against earthquakes, major improvements are due on the Ohlone Greenway under the tracks from Fairmount to Brighton, south of the Albany border. Cerrito Creek's main stem and north branch cross the trail here. Years ago, F5C removed invasives, planted natives, and installed trash cans to help clean up the area.

From 6:30 - 8:30 PM Thursday, May 31, you can comment on plans for creek beautification, rain gardens to treat storm water, an informal play area near Fairmount, better access to El Cerrito Plaza, and more. The workshop will be at Castro Clubhouse, 1420 Norvell. Plans can be viewed here; a portion is shown below. For information contact 510-215-4339 or

June 2 Baxter Creek work party
For our June work party, we join Baxter Creek volunteers on the restored creek on the Ohlone Greenway, on the Richmond-El Cerrito border. We'll help remove trash and invasives. Meet where the Ohlone Greenway cuts Conlon, east of San Pablo Avenue and west of Key Route. The site is easily reached by AC Transit 72 (look for the light at Conlon, opposite Home Depot), a great bike ride on the Ohlone Greenway, and a short walk north from the El Cerrito BART station.

Wear closed-toed shoes and sun protection; be prepared for changing weather. Tools, gloves, water, and snacks provided. For information contact Stephen Pree,


11.  dear water creatures, near and far--

You may or may not have heard about the Water Underground before, bringing hydro-labratories, citizen science and fabulous queer art into the world.  Last fall we brought The Gold Fish a queer slapstick musical about water politics and salmon migration to the Crocker Museum in Sacramento, the Wild and Scenic Film Festival in Grass Valley, and venues in the east bay and San Francisco. we will be hitting you up again for our next live performance and hydrolab at Counterpulse July 13th and 14th directed by Ezra Nepon. At our performances, we've used the live version to spark discussions on water infrastructure, river restoration, and political opportunities to create new cultures of water and connect to international water struggles (aka The Water Wars).

This spring We've been working on adapting the stage play by July Cole into a screenplay and will be shooting The Gold Fish film in the mission and around the bay area starting next week. The film will reach an even broader audience, and is meant to become a centerpiece of education, community science, and water activism by the ever-growing Water Underground.

This film is informative... but it is far from a documentary about water.
We are talking about an underwater casino owned by an evil water Tycoon where Miss Coho has to gamble her eggs to try and win River passage. The whole ecosystem is somehow working for slave wages in this place and we heard whisper of a gang of Water Nymphs who are underground union organizers even amongst the ranks of Army Choir of Engineers... oh... did we forget to mention this is a MUSICAL?

We've been doing lots of local fundraising to do initial sound recording and set building and now have kicked off our grassroots fundraising campaign for production costs. We dive into filming next week for 3 days and again for a weekend in mid-June.

If you're in the Bay Area,  please join us for upcoming Riparian Bike Rides  (NOTA*) May 20 and June 17 . the May 13th one and it was pretty amazing, took water samples at the top of Temescal creek and followed it down to hear from Jon Bauer aboutpotemkin creek as well as learning the history of the Shellmound before winding down to the Oakland bay.

You can help us out by letting other folks who might be interested in the film know about our campaign and, if you can, we do appreciate ANY size donation. Every drop counts.