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.

Friday, July 27, 2012


“The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts.  Many people would sooner die than think; in fact they do so."    --Bertrand Russell

1.   Off the Beaten Path - submit your photos of hidden gems and signature parks.  Deadline looming
2.   Pedro Point Headlands "play" day Sunday July 29
3.   McLaren Park proposed alternate bike skills course site visit July 29
4.   Park pic of the month
5.   Knowland Park update
6.   a snake offering - Ohh!! you want to be alone...
7.   Congress tackles the problem of chain migration
8.   My July 14 Mt Davidson tree tour
9.   Feinstein's scientist rebuked over Drake's Bay oyster farm
10. Kindness - you must lose things to know it
11.  Moon meets Jupiter - and satellites!! - sensational Nasa photos
12.  Gov Brown plans to endorse billion dollar boondoggle
13.  World's largest dam removal sees steelhead return
14.  I am lying to you - marketer explains how he manipulated the mass media
15.  Wry observations on life

1.  The Harvey Milk Photo Center is currently looking for entries to their new Off the Beaten Path exhibit that is scheduled to open at McLaren Lodge and Park Aid Station (office of NAP) in the fall. We are looking to see if you or other natural area enthusiasts might be interested in submitting some of their photos to be displayed. The deadline for the call of entry is August 8th.

Off the Beaten Path: Celebrating San Francisco’s Signature Parks & Hidden Gems
Exhibition Dates: October 13th–November 30th, 2012
Opening Reception: Saturday, October 13th, 1–4 p.m.
Location: McLaren Lodge, 501 Stanyan Street (at Fell),; Hours: Monday–Friday, 9 a.m.–5 p.m.

San Francisco Recreation and Parks and Harvey Milk Photo Center present Off the Beaten Path, a photography exhibition showcasing San Francisco’s signature parks and hidden gems, which will take place at the beautiful and historic McLaren Lodge in Golden Gate Park.

We’ve opened up our call for entry to members of the general public for a $25 fee. Submission is free for all Photo Center members, San Francisco Recreation and Parks, San Francisco Parks Alliance, and San Francisco Arts Commission employees.

Call for Entry Guidelines:
Send up to 10 of your best images that meet the below specifications — low-resolution JPEGs or links are fine — by August 8th at 8 p.m. to Up to two images per person will be chosen by a panel of judges. The submission deadline for final, framed work will be announced shortly.

We are looking for work showcasing the large variety of green spaces our city has to offer, from popular destinations such as Golden Gate Park, Dolores Park, and Alamo Square Park, to vast, lesser known parks, including Glen Canyon Park and John McLaren Park, as well as mini-parks and hidden stairways nestled throughout town. People, pets, sunrises, sunsets, rain, sun, fog, wildlife, vistas, cityscapes, trees, meadows, and macros — we’d like to see it all. Color, black and white, digital and film photography will be accepted.

More information can be found at


2.  Join us on the Pedro Point Headlands for another restoration "play" day

This Sunday, July 29th - 9.45am - 1pm

Meet at the Pedro Point Firehouse
1227 Danmann Ave
we will carpool up through the green gate
RSVP Is So Appreciated

Our Plan will be widen the middle ridge trail,  water the plants in the recently planted slide area, eradicate some of the invasives in the new property added to the Pedro Point Headlands, and have fun.  Oh yea, we might collect more native seeds.


3.  Proposed alternate Bike Skills Course site visit
Sunday July 29, 10 a.m.
Jerry Garcia Amphitheater Parking Lot, 20 John F Shelley Drive

Volunteers with SF Urban Riders have been working with Rec Park for several years to bring a bike skills course to McLaren Park. The planned course would reclaim and upgrade the strip of old asphalt- covered land along Sunnydale Ave near the Gleneagle Golf Course. (Original area pictured at left.)

Recently, another location has been suggested by
Help McLaren Park’s Chuck Farrugia in an email to the community. We are concerned because this location, near Mansell and Shelley, would sacrifice nearly five acres of McLaren’s designated Natural Areas and off-leash dog areas for the course. Chuck will lead the visit to his proposed new location on Sunday. (New area pictured at right.)


4.  Park Pic of the Month
(image failed to post)

"The sun will not rise,
or set,
without my notice
and thanks."
    Winslow Homer


5.  From Friends of Knowland Park

Dear Knowland Park Supporters, 

THE FIGHT IS ON and we need your support now more than ever! The zoo is placing a parcel tax on the ballot for this fall that would, if passed, provide funds for the expansion development. See You may recall that at meeting after meeting and hearing after hearing, zoo and city officials assured everyone that this was “a done deal,” all paid for, private funds, etc. Well, it turns out they lied to us again.

We have been trying for more than a month to get information about this through the county after we read a story in the San Jose Mercury News about it. As with the city, we have been stonewalled, with people telling us they knew nothing about it (or simply not responding at all, in the case of one supervisor) and denying they had any information. It is truly shameful when ordinary citizens cannot access information they are rightfully entitled to because public agencies are protecting their political connections.

The zoo reportedly wanted a $20 per parcel tax, but after doing some polling they reduced it to $12 per parcel. The sales pitch will undoubtedly be “just $1 a month for the poor zoo animals and the poor kids of Oakland.” But the captive animals in the zoo are definitely not poor. The zoo is already tapping multiple buckets of public money, including funds from the city and from earlier county bond measures, as well as seeking state grants (see Jim Hanson’s great blog posts on this at   and And a trophy building on the ridgetop won’t help the poor kids of Oakland, who will have to pay again to enter the zoo—and will lose their precious natural heritage of wildland habitat, accessible now for free. In addition, the millions that would be raised for the zoo’s theme park if this measure passes could be used instead for basic services that would directly benefit those children and their families.

But to even ask for this at a time when cities and counties are struggling to provide basic services, when schools and libraries are struggling to manage with limited funds, roads and streets are deteriorating, people all over the county are hurting and Oakland’s police radios reportedly don’t even work half the time when they are trying to stop crimes, just shows the complete arrogance of zoo executives. They actually think we should all add more to the public trough so they can build their massive and grandiose bay view offices, gift shop, restaurant and visitor center, destroying native wildlife habitat in the process, while calling themselves conservationists! This is so wrong in SO many ways.

We need your help NOW. Will you help us fight this ballot measure? We have only 3 months to defeat it, and in campaign terms that is the blink of an eye. We need money FAST to mount a media campaign, and we need people willing to work on tabling, outreach, and advocacy activities. This may be a tactical move by the zoo to reduce the chances that we will appeal the legal case, but we simply can’t let them get away with this tax grab. There are too many other important programs that need that money.

Please email us and tell us how you can contribute to this effort. Start by sending a generous check TODAY to our treasurer, Lee Ann Smith, 111 Shadow Mountain, Oakland, CA 94605. Make the check to CNPS and put Knowland Park in the subject line. Or donate online using PayPal:  I know we all have lots of good causes we’d like to support, and you may feel tapped out, but the zoo’s actions make it absolutely urgent that we raise money for this campaign NOW. We have no time to waste—the zoo’s PR machine is undoubtedly already well in gear. Let’s show the zoo’s executives that this time around, the public won’t buy their lies—and we won’t pay to destroy our own Park!


6.  Green Hairstreak volunteer Deidre Martin:
I have a poem for you! I love all the poetry you have in Nature News, especially because I am a poet! I'm a slam style poet, not so much for publication as for the stage, including Poets Theater.

Below is a quieter poem for a garter snake I found in my backyard (on 3rd Ave between Anza/Balboa) back in June!!! I am not sure what type of garter snake but I took pics so I'll know eventually.

Danger and Deliverance
a snake offering

You want to be alone,
you, long and lean
streaked red on black -
the marks of danger
and deliverance.

Can I show you the water -
the drip in faucet or vast,
ocean currents and waves?
Take this frog as my offering
for ancestors to open wide.

Tell me

whisper in my ear
mysteries of the cosmos.
Will I die of cancer or
drown deep in a well?
Bawl and scream for lost loves,
dead in front of me?!

Tell me

of his hard, hard climb.
How he sacrificed.
Bombed and killed
for freedom and God.

Tell me

to wish away the madness,
hide the shame and greed.
No more celebrity gossip,
and that dream of a million bucks
worth of diamonds and gold.


Stare into my eyes
so that I can see
your spiral dance.
Sugar sugar
honey pie.

Find a comfortable spot.
Let me watch you and hear you speak.
I will sing to you and tell everyone
of your beauty.


“The raging monster upon the land is population growth. In its presence, sustainability is but a fragile, theoretical concept.” Edward O. Wilson

Alert! HR 692 tackles the problem of chain migration!

In 1995, the bipartisan Barbara Jordan Commission on Immigration Reform recommended eliminating the extended family visa categories. Congress ignored this and other recommendations, and massive legal immigration has driven population growth—at great cost to our economy, environment, and infrastructure.

The Nuclear Family Priority Act, HR 692 (Gingrey, R-GA), would end chain migration while expediting the reunification of married couples and of parents with their young children. It would eliminate the categories of adult siblings and adult children, providing an annual decrease in immigration of over 110,000 per year. The reduction would be larger over time as there would be fewer new immigrants to sponsor additional relatives.

CLICK HERE to learn more and to take action!


8.  My July 14 Mt Davidson tree tour, related by Murray Schneider (illustrated):


9.  From Jeff Miller, Center for Biological Diversity

Hey Jake - a couple of items of interest regarding the Drakes Estero wilderness fight:

East Bay Express - July 18, 2012
Dianne Feinstein's Scientist Rebuked
The head of a respected scientific panel shreds the credibility of an ex-Cal professor who has helped Feinstein in her attempt to block the creation of the first marine wilderness on the West Coast.

Marine Mammal Commission Executive Director Finds Oyster Company’s Scientific Advisor’s Science Fundamentally Flawed, Inaccurate, and Misleading.

(JS:  This last item is a large file.)




Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing. 
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you every where
like a shadow or a friend.

~ Naomi Shihab Nye ~

(Words From Under the Words: Selected Poems)


11.  From Nasa
Moon Meets Jupiter
Image Credit & Copyright: Cristian Fattinnanzi
Explanation: Skygazers around planet Earth enjoyed the close encounter of planets and Moon in July 15's predawn skies. And while many saw bright Jupiter next to the slender, waning crescent, Europeans also had the opportunity to watch the ruling gas giant pass behind the lunar disk, occulted by the Moon as it slid through the night. Clouds threaten in this telescopic view from Montecassiano, Italy, but the frame still captures Jupiter after it emerged from the occultation along with all four of its large Galilean moons. The sunlit crescent is overexposed with the Moon's night side faintly illuminated by Earthshine. Lined up left to right beyond the dark lunar limb are Callisto, Ganymede, Jupiter, Io, and Europa. In fact, Callisto, Ganymede, and Io are larger than Earth's Moon, while Europa is only slightly smaller.

America is so big, and everyone is working, making, digging, bulldozing, trucking, loading, and so on, and I guess the sufferers suffer at the same rate.    Henderson the Rain King

Planning & Conservation League INSIDER: News from the Capitol

Rally Set for Wednesday at Noon to Protest Delta Plan

On Wednesday, Governor Jerry Brown is expected to announce the preferred project alternative for the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP). Materials that were leaked last week show that the Governor plans to endorse a project that will put construction before science and politics before planning. Moreover, this project will put Californians on the tab for the largest water tunnel infrastructure project in history.

This proposal will allow the State to build a massive twin tunnel system to carry water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to Central Valley farmland and cities. Only after the infrastructure is built will we get around to governance and operations. Overwhelming scientific consensus shows that fish in the Delta Ecosystem need more fresh water; yet this proposal could divert more water from the already-failing ecosystem that supports critical habitat and a multi-million dollar fishing industry. The most egregious assertion in the proposal is that water exporters (the people that make money from selling this water) have key control over hiring, budget, science program, and even a veto power over improvements to biological goals and objectives. Furthermore, the State continues to refuse to do a cost benefit analysis for this project that, if it moves forward, will cost taxpayers and water customers in the tens of billions of dollars!

This announcement will resurrect a new version of the once-rejected Peripheral Canal proposal that will reignite water wars and the North-South divide of Brown’s previous of term as governor. There are a number of serious concerns with this new proposal, most of all the blatant defiance of  the legal obligation to develop a plan for the Delta that balances the co-equal goals of “providing a more reliable water supply for California and protecting, restoring, and enhancing the Delta ecosystem (CA Water Code §85054).”

Tomorrow (Wednesday), July 25th, join farmers, fishermen, environmentalists and consumer advocates to protest the Governor’s environmentally destructive and exorbitantly expensive project. The rally will begin at Noon at the California State Capitol west steps. For more information contact Evon Willhoff, Water Program Manager.


PCL says no to hydraulic fracturing (‘fracking’) in California until we better understand its impacts on our environment and communities! Join PCL and nearly a dozen other environmental groups at a rally tomorrow (Wednesday), July 25 at 5:30 pm in front of the California EPA building, located at 1001 I Street Sacramento, CA 95812. The rally, being coordinated Clean Water Action, is aimed at sending a strong message to the Department of Conservation Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) prior to their final public workshop to gather information to develop fracking regulations. Following the rally will be the DOGGR workshop from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Byron Sher Auditorium inside the CalEPA building. Join us at the rally and workshop and make your voice heard! For more information click here or contact Andrew Grinberg by email or phone (415)-369-9172.


PCL’s Legislative Director, Jena Price, will be moving on at the end of this legislative session, which means that PCL is looking to hire an energetic, self-motivated individual with environmental policy experience to direct the Planning and Conservation League’s legislative program! The Legislative Advocate will oversee PCL’s legislative agenda, track all PCL priority bills and develop new legislation, as well as act as the primary spokesperson for PCL in the State Capitol. For a more detailed job description, please click here. Resumes should be submitted by Friday, August 3.


CEQA has long been one of California’s most important – and contentious – environmental laws. In recent years, even some of PCL’s traditional allies have raised concerns about CEQA – specifically, questioning whether this important law makes it difficult to pursue needed infill projects. To learn more about PCL’s thoughts on CEQA and infill, including a recent Office of Planning and Research report that touched on this topic, read Bruce Reznik’s most recent blog on the subject.


During the month of August the Insider will be published on a weekly basis. August is a crazy time in the legislative calendar and PCL wants to keep you informed of everything happening each week. For even more up-to-the-minute information, follow PCL on Facebook and Twitter. 


World's largest dam removal sees steelhead return!

The grey ghosts of the Elwha River are back two months after dam removal! - John McMillan photo.

This Seattle Times article "Steelhead spawning in the Elwha" shows some amazing images of 3-foot long steelhead trout spawning in a tributary stream above the former Elwha Dam for the first time in a century, and only a couple months after the dam was removed. While some folks questioned whether or not the salmon and steelhead would return to the Elwha River following removal of two dams, scientists are delighted to see that they are... and before the upper dam is even fully taken out! Researchers have already observed other species taking advantage of the salmon carcasses and new pulse of nutrients swimming it's way back upstream past the former dam site. This project, along with others across the country, is showing the rapid effectiveness of removing dams to restore entire watersheds and the ecosystems that depend on them.

A Peninsula Daily News article describes how researchers are excited by early signs of positive benefits both in the Elwha River and due to the sediment replenishing beaches and the coastal environment. Another article describes how the newly exposed reservoir bottom is "springing to life" as native plants reestablish themselves in the exposed reservoir bottom following dam removal. Here is a nice article and recent photos of the project and some of the scientists studying the ecological improvements. Finally, check out the great before and after images of Elwha Dam there... and then gone.

Seattle Times

In the Soviet Union, capitalism triumphed over communism. In this country, capitalism triumphed over democracy. -Fran Lebowitz

Marketplace 25.07.12

Marketer explains how he manipulated the mass media

Former marketing director for American Apparel, Ryan Holiday, explains how he leaked fake information and lied to reporters. And he says, what he's done is the rule, not the exception. 

Tess Vigeland: Ryan Holiday is a liar. And he's perfectly happy to have you know it.

After all, the title of his new book is "Trust Me, I'm Lying: Confessions of a Master Media Manipulator." Holiday's day job is corporate marketing strategist for the likes of American Apparel. But the book details his side job as a source for all manner of media outlets, often on subjects he really knows nothing about. His book is an amalgam of media criticism and rampant braggadocio.

Ryan Holiday joins us now. Welcome.

Vigeland: So Ryan, I understand that you were pulled over for a speeding ticket on your way in. Did you lie your way out of it?

Holiday: No, I told them I was on my way to a Marketplace interview, and they actually let me off with a lesser ticket.

Vigeland: Right. I'm glad we could help you out there.

Holiday: Yeah.

Vigeland: Will you be lying to me today?

Holiday: I hope not.

Vigeland: OK, excellent. Give us a rundown of some of the subjects that you have been quoted as an expert on.

Holiday: Turntables, insomnia, barefoot running and -- my favorite, of course, is boat winterization.

Vigeland: And do you own a boat?

Holiday: I don't own a boat. I don't own a turntable either. And I don't suffer from insomnia.

Vigeland: All right. So what was your ultimate goal here? Why bother with this kind of thing? Were you bored, you needed something to do?

Holiday: No, absolutely not. So I discovered about a year ago, there's this service that's called Basically, the reporter needs a subject for a trend piece; I'm promoting something, I say, 'I'll be your trend subject,' and we trade. The reporter doesn't really have to do their job, and the source gets free publicity. So what I wanted to prove was that this backroom arrangement left the front door wide open to all sorts of media manipulation. And so, in about six months, I was able to deceive almost every major media outlet -- not a single one fact-checked, not a single one asked, 'Hey, why are you giving us this information? What's in it for you?' Look, sources have always been self-interested -- we've known this -- but we've almost embraced that self-interest and not asked: 'What are the consequences of doing so?'

Vigeland: What is an example that perhaps surprised you more than any other that you were able to get yourself in a publication talking about?

Holiday: The opening chapter of the book is about this marketing campaign that I did for a best-selling author who turned his book into a movie. And what we did was we created a national, multi-city boycott and backlash against his movie -- and it was entirely fake in its origins -- and we did that by buying billboards and vandalizing them ourselves and leaking photos, by baiting feminist groups to protest the screenings of the movies. And from these sort of these dubious origins, came imitators and real backlash. We ultimately ended up with denunciations in everything from the Washington Post to the Chicago Tribune. The week the movie came out -- which as we all know, when people say, 'Don't go see this movie,' that's exactly what people go out and see.

Vigeland: You going to continue to try to work your magic through these sources, or are you done?

Holiday: What I've been saying is, look, I'm not quitting the game, but I hope to change the game, because I don't think this is the way that it should be played, and I don't think it's best for the society that we live in that this is the way that it's played.

Vigeland: Ryan Holiday is the author of "Trust Me, I'm Lying: Confessions of a Master Media Manipulator." I sure hope that he has not done that with me today. It's out now.

Vigeland: By the way, multiple news organizations posted corrections after Ryan Holiday's book came out.


15.  Observations on life

When I was a kid in the ghetto, a gang started going around harassing people, so some of the toughest kids formed a gang called The Sharks to stop them.  The other gang was called The Jehovah's Witnesses.    Charles Kosar

The only time a woman really succeeds in changing a man is when he's a baby.  Natalie Wood

Woman was God's second mistake.  Friedrich Nietzsche

We are all born charming, fresh, and spontaneous and must be civilized before we are fit to participate in society.
    Miss Manners (Judith Martin)

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)

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