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.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


1.   Final Approval hearing on Beach Chalet soccer fields Thursday, 3 pm
2.   Suggestions on getting a bird bath
3.   Literacy for Environmental Justice vandalized, needs your help
4.   Cosco Busan oil-spill pilot trying to sail in San Francisco Bay again
5.   Banning use of hounds in hunting progresses in Legislature
6.   Athenian democracy - and thoughts from bizarre neighborhood meeting last night
7.   Dragonfly Pond Watch
8.   Keep up with Snowy Plover issues in San Francisco
9.   Starr King Open Space wildflower walk June 3
10. Yesterday's partial solar eclipse
11.  May the Green Hairstreak Be With You
12.  Ted Kipping potluck TONIGHT - On Safari in Kenya
13.  Mary Oliver - Mysteries, Yes
14.  Loowit - er, Mt St Helens
15.  Notes & Queries

When you see a man led to prison say in your heart, "Mayhap he is escaping from a narrower prison." And when you see a man drunken say in your heart, "Mayhap he sought escape from something still more unbeautiful." -Kahlil Gibran

Final Approval hearing
for the Beach Chalet Athletic Fields (soccer complex)
Thursday, May 24th, 2012
3:00 p.m. to (early evening?)
Room 400, City Hall, San Francisco

The Planning Commission will vote on certifying the Environmental Impact Report (EIR).
  The Recreation and Park Commission will vote on approving the soccer complex.

Please attend this hearing to voice your opposition to the proposal to put over 7 acres of artificial turf and 150,000 watts of sports lighting in the western end of Golden Gate Park!

·       Sign up here!
Attend this hearing to let the Commissioners know that Golden Gate Park is the wrong place for this project!  Let us know that you will attend this hearing!   The hearing may go into the early evening -- tell us what time you can arrive.

NOTE:  If you want your comments to become an official objection and part of the basis for an administrative appeal or lawsuit, you must submit them in person at the May 24th Joint Hearing.  Learn more on our website.

Questions?  Write to us, and we will do our best to answer them.

·       Breaking news:   Favorable  Op ed piece in Monday SF Chron about Beach Chalet, Golden Gate Park and keeping it (real) green!  Sign on and add comments!

·       What we need to protect:  the Beach Chalet Fields today  -

·       Proposed project:    The 60 foot lights towers --  


From Golden Gate Audubon

Please email San Francisco city officials TODAY and tell them to choose an alternative plan!

Or make your views known in person. Join us at the hearing at City Hall, Room 400, on Thursday starting at 3 p.m. The hearing is likely to continue for several hours.

Contact information:
SF Planning Commission:
President Rodney Fong -
Vice President Cindy Wu -
Michael J. Antonini -
Gwyneth Borden -
Ron Miguel -
Kathrin Moore -
Hisashi Sugaya -

SF Rec & Park Commission
(415) 831-2750

Downy woodpecker - one of the species that live in the area around Beach Chalet


2.  Bird baths

*16.  Any suggestions on where to get a bird bath?* I am about to purchase a solar-powered fountain pump, what they have for sale at <> ($230 includes panels.) Now for the bird bath...why are they all mostly that ornate Italian style? Also, I hear 1/2" depth of water is enough to attract birds and butterflies, and even just a twinkle.

Jake and Deidre,

Am pretty sure this is what Deidre is about to purchase, see page 3 in the link below:

I don't have a clue how it all works, or whether it works with any of the birdbaths I mention below.  But here goes, anyway.

Perfect birdbaths, like perfect binoculars, probably do not exist.  Ads emphasize the assets of various models, but rarely tell you the whole story.  I have a couple of birdbaths in my yard, and over the years have had several others. Here are a few comments:

1.  I agree that most birds don't want or need more than 1" of water.  But 1" will evaporate in no time at all, so be prepared to refill frequently, even daily in warm weather.

2.  Probably the best birdbaths have a *gently sloping* bottom to a maximum depth of 2" - allowing birds from chickadees to band-tailed pigeons to bathe at their own comfort level.

3.  Beware the manufacturers who boast easy-to-clean features, e.g. smooth ceramic surface.  If there's any slope to the bottom, the birds will have a hard time keeping from slipping.  Better to be kind to the birds, and use elbow grease and a stiff brush to clean the birdbath.

4.  There's a tradeoff with lightweight birdbaths.  While they're inexpensive to ship, and easy to move, pedestals may also tip over easily. That's an asset for cleaning; but a hassle if the birdbath is accessible to creatures other than birds. Though it wasn't intended for them, raccoons, opossums, deer, skunks, cats, etc. all visit and frequently tip over our low pedestal birdbath.

5.  In our yard, the bird's long-time favorite birdbath is one that looks like this, though we bought it so long ago, I can't remember the manufacturer.  It has a slightly roughened surface so the bathers don't slip; and we have installed a dripper to keep the water moving:

But if Deidre is more interested in something on a pedestal, there are plenty that are not Italianate.  Here are three I like:

Essential Bird Bath:

Halifax Birdbath:

Oslo Bird Bath:

If the solar fountain is supposed to "float" on the birdbath, I think the diameter of the birdbath should be quite large. We don't want the birds to have to compete for space with the fountain.  Would be glad to hear/read what others have to say.

Kay Loughman


3.  What Happened?
 Several weeks ago, vandals caused $18,000 worth of damage and undid nearly a year's worth of volunteer and staff work at LEJ's native-plants nursery at Candlestick Point State Recreation Area. The vandals destroyed as many as 5,000 plants, smashed garden tools and nursery tables, and damaged community garden beds, a toilet, and a sink. These actions create a significant setback for LEJ as we gear up for a major planting project in July.

Donate Now >>  (online)
Or mail a check to:
Literacy for Environmental Justice
1329 Evans Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94124


Please show your support for LEJ's vital land restoration work and rebuilding efforts. Your generous, tax-deductible donation will help LEJ get back on track.

Restoring San Francisco's Largest Wetlands Area
This summer, LEJ will help restore the Yosemite Slough area in Bayview Hunters Point, the largest wetland in San Francisco County. In July, with the help of our volunteer network, we will plant 10,000 native plants at this site and others along the southeastern shoreline. This will be a major step forward in LEJ's vision to transform the Bayview Hunters Point shoreline from a past dumping ground into a thriving, healthy, and equitable open space.

LEJ is leading efforts to create healthy parks and open spaces in BVHP, and mobilizing more than 1,000 volunteers this year to help us. In addition, we are educating thousands of youth about urban sustainability and environmental justice issues, through innovative programs at the EcoCenter at Heron's Head Park. Donating to LEJ will help ensure that these vital services continue!

Interested in helping with our planting project in July? Contact Francis Mendoza

Thank You to the Volunteers and Organizations That Have Already Stepped Up!
A big thank you to the LEJ supporters who have already helped us clean up the damage at the nursery during a recent volunteer work day. We'd also like to thank the individuals and organizations that have already made generous donations.

We'd like to thank Save the Bay, Wetland Research Associates, Pure Back Casting and Vermaplex, WALC, Earthcare Now, California State Parks Foundation, California State Parks  for their support in helping us get our plant production back up to speed. We also wish to thank PG&E for its financial contribution to help us build a fence around the nursery and prevent further vandalism.


4.  Cosco Busan oil-spill pilot trying to sail in San Francisco Bay again

By Paul Rogers

Capt. John Cota, who was blamed for causing the worst oil spill in San Francisco Bay in two decades when he crashed the cargo ship Cosco Busan into the Bay Bridge in 2007, is quietly trying to regain his mariner's license....

San Jose Mercury News


5.  Good news from the California Legislature

SB 1221 (Gaines), to ban the use of hounds when hunting bears and bobcats, today passed the Senate floor (barely):  22:15.  (21 "AYE" votes needed for passage).  Breakdown of vote is not on line yet.  Check Tuesday:  Reportedly, Senators LaMalfa, Noreen Evans and Lois Wolk all voted NO.  Let 'em hear from you.  (PATTERN:

Now it's on to the Assembly, most likely the Assembly Water, Parks & Wildlife Committee chaired by Assemblymember Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael). 


(Solon and Cleisthenes were the two primarily responsible for laying the foundations for Athenian democracy - JS)

Those who directed the state in the time of Solon and Cleisthenes did not establish a polity which ... trained the citizens in such fashion that they looked upon insolence as democracy, lawlessness as liberty, impudence of speech as equality, and licence to do what they pleased as happiness, but rather a polity which detested and punished such men and by so doing made all the citizens better and wiser.   Areopagiticus, 7.20

JS:  I stumbled across the preceding quotation this morning, and I couldn't help but pair it with thoughts going through my mind last night as I listened to the bizarre proceedings of the West of Twin Peaks Central Council, a coalition of about 20 neighborhood organizations.  I attended in hopes of giving the Council food for thought, reasons why they should support the City's Natural Areas Program (the sole agenda item), although I was not sanguine about my prospects.  My low expectations weren't low enough.

It was one of the most bizarre meetings I have ever attended, and that is a mouthful.  Having sat through dozens of such fractious, contentious meetings in San Francisco, I thought myself inured.  I would put attendees from the upscale neighborhoods represented into the category of highly educated but ignorant.  Why did they invite upper management of the San Francisco Recreation & Park Dept to present on the Natural Areas Program (the dept was allowed ten minutes to present on a complex issue!), when they clearly had made up their minds in advance?  Presumably to indulge in a favorite sport--beating up on government.

For those who cling to democracy and to hopes that we can govern ourselves it was a depressing experience.  They were not there to learn or to listen, merely to get their jollies off at public expense.  It does not speak well for the represented organizations.  It illustrated the grim proverb that we get the government we deserve.


What is the purpose of the giant sequoia tree? The purpose of the giant sequoia tree is to provide shade for the tiny titmouse.
    -Edward Abbey

Help increase our understanding of dragonfly migration.
Become a Pond Watch monitor!
Dragonfly Pond Watch is a volunteer-based program
of the Migratory Dragonfly Partnership (MDP) to investigate the annual movements of two major migratory dragonfly species in North America: common green darner (Anax junius) and black saddlebags (Tramea lacerata). No prior experience with dragonflies is needed to participate!

By visiting the same wetland or pond site on a regular basis, participants will be able to note the arrival of migrant dragonflies moving south in the fall or north in the spring, as well as to record when the first resident adults of these species emerge in the spring.

Why monitor ponds?
Collecting seasonal information at local ponds will increase our knowledge of the timing and location of dragonfly migration across North America, and expand our understanding of the relationship between migrant and resident populations within the same species.

Who can participate?
Anyone with regular access to a large pond or wetland who has an interest in dragonflies and would like to contribute to our growing knowledge about dragonfly migration in North America.

For those new to citizen monitoring, recognizing these two species is easy to learn! Visit the photo gallery at OdonataCentral to see an array of photos of common green darner and black saddlebags.

How can I get involved?
Please visit the Pond Watch homepage for information on how to register a pond of your choice and for detailed monitoring protocol instructions.

We will provide regular feedback and reports to participants, so you can see how you are making a difference!

For more information, please visit our website,

Man is most nearly himself when he achieves the seriousness of a child at play. -Heraclitus, philosopher (500 BCE)


8.If you would like to keep up with Snowy Plover issues in San Francisco, you may want to join the SFSnowyPlover Yahoo! Group at:

SFSnowyPlovers is a forum for communication available to volunteers and professionals who are concerned with the stewardship and management of Snowy Plovers and their habitats along San Francisco’s coastal shores.

Discussion topics here include monitoring of Snowy Plovers & other shorebirds, habitat maintenance, public outreach & education, volunteer opportunities, and all related topics pertaining to the local aspects of the range-wide recovery of the Snowy Plover.

Background – Once quite common from Washington to Baja, the population of Snowy Plovers has been greatly reduced, primarily as a result of habitat degradation due to coastal development and increased human recreational use. As California’s human population increased along coastal areas, biologists recognized that the Snowy Plover population was declining dramatically. Listed as threatened in 1993, the Pacific coast population is now protected under the Federal Endangered Species Act. With cooperative efforts at federal, state and local levels, it is hoped that this inhabitant of the beach-dune ecosystem can be stabilized and fully recovered by 2047.

In San Francisco, Snowy Plovers live at Ocean Beach and Crissy Field, both areas within the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, managed by the National Park Service.

Starr King Open Space
Save the date...June 3rd, 2012
SKOS our hilltop sanctuary

Time for our Wildflower Walks!

Please join us on June 3rd at 11:00 am
Meet a SKOS sign.


10.  Solar eclipse

On Sunday the 20th around 6.20 pm I looked out the window at the Laguna Honda Reservoir slope and Mt Sutro.  The sunlight, instead of yellow, was white, a sort of ashen color.  That reminded me of the partial solar eclipse, so I grabbed my Sunspotter telescope and headed up the hill.  When I watched it, around 6.30 the Sun was about 7/8 covered by the Moon--still way too bright to look at directly through UV sunglasses, even though the Sun's brilliance was further dulled by thin wispy clouds. 

Every experience I have with the Sun increases my respect and wonder--its power and its mystery.  That fireball that no one dares look at directly has been radiating this energy for 5 billion years.  Incomprehensible.  And it's due to go on another 5 billion years. 

We should all be Sun worshipers.

Wonder what creationists think about all this.

::: May ::: the Green Hairstreak Be With You!

Photo by Mike Belcher and edited by MTP

GH Sighting at House of Belcher
Our dedicated Mike Belcher spotted a Green Hairstreak on its host plant, buckwheat, Eriogonum latifolium, at his home on 16th Avenue!  Belcher is a steward to two sites within the corridor, on the lower divide of 15th Ave. and Noriega St. and at the corner of Aloha and Lomita.  His hard work and contagious enthusiasm in restoring habitat for this beautiful native butterfly has definitely earned the wonderful visit.  Considering that the GH was spotted on 16th Ave., technically not part of the corridor but very close to, confirms that our efforts to rebuild native habitats in our yards and streets do indeed improve the odds for endangered native wildlife and that these " oases are vital to the creature's perpetuation into the future." - Liam O'Brien

Community at 12th and Pacheco

Photo by MTP. From left to right (Mariel, Barbara, Ellen, Mike)

April's Green Hairstreak Party was hot! With temperatures in the high 80s and minimal wind, Green Hairstreaks everywhere were celebrating. We had a solid team of neighbors working at the Golden Gate Heights Sandy Dune Native Plant Community Garden, one of our most recent additions to the GH corridor.  Established in 2004, it contains an array of native plants such as dune knotweed, bush lupine, hummingbird sage, lizard tail, globe gilia, as well as sea thrift and coastal buckwheat. This garden is a spectacular example of community collaboration as it continues to flourish even after friends and pioneers have come and gone, thanks to the labor of dedicated volunteers. 

Take an active role in your community transformations and volunteer!

Photo by MTP. Ceanothus thyrsiflorus (Left) and Mimulus arauntiacus (RIght)

Stay Connected in the City with Green Connections!

Holly Park to Alemany Farm Butterfly Walk
Liam O'Brien
Saturday May 26th, 12pm - 3pm (Bring a bag lunch)
Bocana St. and Holly Park Circle

Unlikely Habitat: A Tenderloin Swallowtail Tour
Amber Hasselbring & Elizabeth Stampe
Sunday, July 1st, 1pm -3:30pm
UN Plaza Fountain (Civic Center)

Backyard Native Nursery Network/BYNN:
Growing SF native plants for the Green Hairstreak Corridor

The Green Hairstreak Corridor has its personal supply of native San Francisco plants thanks to volunteers who dedicate their time and space to propagate and nurture plants in their backyard.  If you are interested in helping our restoration project by becoming a member of the Backyard Native Nursery Network, please contact Deidre Martin at

We are still looking for dedicated individuals who would like to steward our current site at the Quintara Staircase at 14th Ave. (ASAP) and the Mandalay staircase which we would like to add to the corridor.
If you are interested or know someone who is please e-mail

Be a part of the transformations  taking place within your community - VOLUNTEER!
1st Saturdays: Mt. Sutro
2nd Saturdays: Hidden Garden Steps
3rd Saturdays: Green Hairstreak

Amateur video filming the butterfly and one Green Hairstreak volunteer:


12.  Ted Kipping pot luck/slide shows
4th Tuesday of the month at 7 pm (slide show at 8 pm) at the San Francisco County Fair Bldg, 9th Av & Lincoln Way in Golden Gate Park
Served by Muni bus lines #6, 43, 44, 66, 71, and the N-Judah Metro

May 22    Gerald Corsi, On Safari in Kenya

*Please bring a dish and beverage to serve 8 people


Mysteries, Yes

Truly, we live with mysteries too marvelous
to be understood.

How grass can be nourishing in the
mouths of the lambs.
How rivers and stones are forever
in allegiance with gravity
while we ourselves dream of rising.
How two hands touch and the bonds
will never be broken.
How people come, from delight or the
scars of damage,
to the comfort of a poem.

Let me keep my distance, always, from those
who think they have the answers.

Let me keep company always with those who say
"Look!" and laugh in astonishment,
and bow their heads.

~ Mary Oliver ~



14.  Mt St Helens, by Christine Colasurdo
Volcanic greetings! It's that time again—the 32nd anniversary of the May 18, 1980 eruption of Loowit (Mount St. Helens)—and I have some news to share. Also, I'd like some replies! (You can email me at Below are three items:

I would like to start a discussion about renaming the volcano—or bringing back an old name to replace the current British one. As you probably know, Mount St. Helens was named by Captain Vancouver for an English baron who never stepped foot on the West Coast. But there is an older name for the volcano that has indigenous origins and accurately describes the volcano as a Smoking Mountain. That name is Loowit. The long version is Loowitlatkla, or Loo-wit-lat-kla. The general translation of Loowit is “Smoking Mountain.” It's a 19th-century Anglicization of Cowlitz/Klickitat names. Loowit has historical weight (it was written down as early as 1860) and represents for me a white/native blending that has entered into common parlance. If you think this is a good idea, could you please let me know? I’d like to compile a list of supporters. If you disagree or have other ideas, I would like to hear them. Also, if you know of others who might be interested in such a topic, could you please forward this email to them? Once I hear back from everyone I will compose another email and let you all know what I’ve received and how to proceed.

I am leading a field seminar on Saturday, July 15 for the Mount St. Helens Institute titled JOURNEY UP THE TOUTLE: A DAY OF HISTORY AND NATURE AT MOUNT ST. HELENS. We’ll explore three visitor centers, hike easy trails, and gain an understanding of how the Toutle River valley was shaped by the volcano. We’ll also learn about the valley’s human history and end the day with the amazing view of the crater from the Johnston Ridge Observatory. We’ll meet at the Silver Lake Visitor center. From there, transportation will be provided up to Johnston Ridge and back to Silver Lake, with a stop for dinner at the 19 Mile House. (Participants purchase their own food and beverage.) Cost is $50. Advance registration is required. 12 people limit. Sign up at (under “Field Seminars”).

I am launching a Mount St. Helens Archive in an effort to collect memories from the public and to establish a permanent depository for items related to the area before the 1980 eruption. I am seeking photographs, souvenirs, and other pre-eruption items as well as personal recollections of the pre-eruption landscape. My ultimate goal is to secure a permanent home for these important things so that future generations can understand what Spirit Lake and the mountain were like before 1980. I’m also hoping to establish a small but complete collection of books devoted to the area that could be made available to the public, perhaps at a location like the new Science and Learning Center at Coldwater. If you would like to participate, please email me at


15.  Notes & Queries, Guardian Weekly

Q.  What is the stupidest idea for which people have been asked to fight and die?

A.  What about the Romans' lions v Christians? They may not qualify as being stupid, though, as they were designed successfully to be opiates for the masses who were being bled by the emperors.
Adrian Cooper, Sydney, Australia

- The filioque clause - the item in the western church's version of the Nicene Creed stating that the Holy Spirit proceeds "from the Father and from the Son". This was rejected by the Eastern Orthodox churches, and led to the division between the eastern and western churches since 1054 - which in turn led to the massacres by the Crusaders in Constantinople, the Crimean war and continuing disputes over the holy places in Jerusalem and Bethlehem.
Alaisdair Raynham, Truro, Cornwall, UK

- Er, war? Ie, if the aggressor's populace refused to fight in the first place there wouldn't be a war.
David Gander, Navarrenx, France

- Freedom.
Elaine Fell, Melbourne, Australia

- Peace!
Michael Gregory, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

- Religion.
John Grinter, Katoomba, NSW, Australia

- The existence of god (any one will do).
Peter Wood, Rotorua, New Zealand

- Weapons of mass destruction?
Mike Misso, Darwin,
Northern Territory, Australia

Am I more likely to die as a victim of avian flu, terrorist activity or crossing the road?

Try jaywalking wearing a George Bush mask.
Roger Morrell, Perth, Western Australia

- Crossing the road, unless you are a chicken.
Mariana Warner, Sedona, Arizona, US

- Yes.
Stephen Frick, Victoria, BC, Canada

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