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.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


Insanity is relative. It depends on who has who locked in what cage. -Ray Bradbury
Show me a sane man and I will cure him for you. -Carl Jung
When one guy sees an invisible man, he's a nut case; ten people see him, it's a cult; ten million people see him, it's a respected religion. -Richard Jeni, comedian and actor (1957-2007)

1.   Talk: Removing your lawn to make room for native plants, Aug 1 Milpitas
2.   Daly City Dunes Talk and Slideshow Aug 1 Daly City
3.   Appeal of Beach Chalet Local Coastal Zone Permit TODAY 5 pm
4.   Farallones Marine Sanctuary Pt Bonita Lighthouse Walk Aug 18
5.   Feedback:  Lead poisoning of California condors
6.   FHWA rejects Caltrans' widening of Niles Canyon Road
7.   EcoDistrict Community Kick-Off at SPUR Aug 16
8.   SaveTheFrogs art fundraiser in Sta Cruz Sept 7
9.   Mary Oliver's summer poem touching the subject of faith
10. Senate Majority Leader cuts off own head

1.  Removing Your Lawn to Make Room for Native Plants, a lecture by Deva Luna
Wed., Aug. 1, 2012, 7:00 PM, Milpitas Library, 160 N Main St, Milpitas

Tired of your lawn, but don't know what to put in instead? Come to this talk and be inspired to create a beautiful garden--without mowing or fertilizing! This lecture is the eighth in our 12-part Designing Your Native Plant Garden series. See a variety of no-lawn landscaping styles and ideas, get professional landscaping tips on removing a lawn, using native lawn alternatives, and sheet mulching to prevent weeds in your new garden, all while having fun

Deva Luna is a sustainable and Bay Friendly-certified landscape designer who has been teaching and speaking about horticulture for 15 years. She has a degree in "Plants and Art" and works for EarthCare Landscaping in Cupertino. Her passions include California native plants, greywater, edible landscaping, herbs, and "quirky yard art."
Milpitas Library, 160 N Main Street, Milpitas, (408) 262-1171 x3616.

Daly City Dunes Talk and Slideshow
Talk and Slide Show Presentation by
David Schooley, San Bruno Mountain Watch Founder
Joe Cannon, Restoration Biologist


The Daly City Dunes, on the western slope of San Bruno Mountain, are threatened by a development proposal. This inland dune system has a diverse and unique plant community - including rare and endangered species - and is the only location outside of the Presidio where you can find the rare San Francisco Lessingia - protected under the Federal Endangered Species Act since 1997.

San Bruno Mountain Watch (SBMW) believes that this open space and its rare ecosystem are worthy of saving from development.

Join us for a short hike on the dunes at 7:00 pm, followed by a slide show and talk about the importance of saving this natural resource.

Please visit our website for complete information about the Daly City Dunes and our efforts to save them.
August 1, 2012

 Teglia Center
285 Abbot Ave
( at East Moltke)
Daly City
CA 94014


 Appeal of Local Coastal Zone Permit to be heard at SF Board of Appeals, August 1, 2012

San Francisco  On Wednesday, August 1, 2012, 5:00 P.M., the SF Board of Appeals will hear an appeal of the Local Coastal Zone Permit in  Room 416, SF City Hall, One Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place.  SF Ocean Edge filed the Appeal on June 7th, 2012.   Joining SF Ocean Edge in the Appeal are the San Francisco Bay Chapter of the Sierra Club, the Golden Gate Audubon Society, and the Golden Gate Park Preservation Alliance.      

Background  On May 24, 2012, the San Francisco Planning Commission voted to approve the Local Coastal Zone Permit.  The  SF Recreation and Park Commission then approved the project.  This was despite testimony from many organizations and individuals who disagreed with the placement of this project within the Local Coastal Zone, as well as the Planning Department’s acknowledgment that it had received over 1,000 emails, the majority of which opposed the project.

The Appeal  Brooke O'Hanley, an associate at the environmental law firm Lozeau - Drury LLP, is representing SF Ocean Edge in the Appeal.   Before she entered the law profession, O'Hanley played professional soccer for the Women's United Soccer Association.   O'Hanley's legal and environmental background includes completing her BA at the University of Portland  and then going on to obtain a Masters in Environmental Science and Management at UC Santa Barbara and a J.D. at the University of Maryland School of Law.   She has interned at the US Environmental Protection Agency and worked with the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Department of Veteran Affairs.   According to O'Hanley, “I am so thankful for the Environmental Ethics and Policy program at the University of Portland.  UP's Environmental Science Department - with its idealistic and passionate faculty - helped to install in me that I have a moral obligation to try and protect our fragile earth.   This program propelled me into a lifelong commitment to environmental protection."

Impacts on the Local Coastal Zone  The proposed soccer complex project would destroy one of the few open grasslands in Golden Gate Park by removing over seven acres of natural grass and replacing it with artificial turf in a area that is located in the tsunami zone . The complex would also  install over 150,000 watts of sports lighting on 60 foot poles, that would be lighted from dusk until 10:00 p.m. every night of the year.  The poles are much taller than the trees that separate the fields from the Great Highway and the beach.  Bright  lights disrupt the natural environment and affect migratory birds and other wildlife, as well as detracting from the natural beauty of the area.  Located right next to Ocean Beach,  the banks of lights would ruin the beauty of Ocean Beach for strollers at sunset, for people enjoying the fire rings in the dark, and the Dark Sky for families studying the night sky.  Even during the day, the light poles and banks of sports lights will be visible from the Great Highway Promenade as well as from Ocean Beach, detracting from the naturalistic beauty of Ocean Beach and Golden Gate Park.

The value of Ocean Beach   Ocean Beach, located immediately adjacent to the project site, is an important coastal resource,  visited each year by thousands of San Franciscans and tourists alike.  Amy Meyer, former Recreation and Park Commissioner, co-chair of the citizen panel for the just-finished Ocean Beach Master Plan (SPUIR 2012), and an activist on behalf of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area for 42 years, says,  , "I care very much about the impact of the Beach Chalet Athletic Fields project, because both federal and city park lands would be severely detrimentally affected. I am concerned about the negative impacts of installing sports lighting next to Ocean Beach and placing an artificial turf surface in Golden Gate Park... . . Increasing the amount of 'dark sky' available to the public is a national park goal, not only in San Francisco but throughout the National Park System.  Keeping the skies as dark as possible at the western end of our city is our contribution to this goal.  Reasons include natural habitat for birds and wildlife, and preservation of opportunities for astronomical observation."

Win-win solution - the Hybrid Alternative  SF Ocean Edge proposes a feasible win-win solution - the Hybrid Alternative.  The more urbanized West Sunset Playground fields are scheduled for a renovation with natural grass. The  Hybrid Alternative would simply swap field renovation methods.  It would renovate the fields at West Sunset with artificial turf that is safe and with appropriate lighting, and renovate the Beach Chalet Soccer Fields with real grass and no lights.  Katherine Howard, a landscape architect and member of the SFOE Steering Committee says, "We support youth soccer. Switching the proposed Beach Chalet artificial turf fields and sports lights project with West Sunset's natural grass renovation gives children renovated playing fields and protects the beauty and naturalistic qualities of Ocean Beach and Golden Gate Park for children today and for future generations to enjoy.  The Hybrid Alternative is a win-win solution for everyone."

4.  Farallones Marine Sanctuary Pt. Bonita Lighthouse Walk

Like a sentinel at the Golden Gate the Pt. Bonita Lighthouse guides vessels safely through the mouth of San Francisco Bay. Built in 1855, this venerable lighthouse has lit the way for over 157 years. The last manned lighthouse on the West Coast, it overlooks two great sanctuaries: Gulf of the Farallones, and northern Monterey Bay marine sanctuary. A ranger and sanctuary marine naturalist lead this exclusive walking tour of our maritime heritage, wildlife and geology of the Marin Headlands and Pt. Bonita.

DATE/TIME: Saturday, Aug 18, 2012 10:00a to 12:00p
WHERE: Point Bonita Lighthouse, Marin Headlands/GGNRA, Sausalito, CA
COST: $15 per person

Pre-registration required. Contact Erica Warren, 415/ 561-6622 x232,


5.  Feedback

Lead poisoning of California Condors comes as no surprise
Dan Murphy

At it’s Board of Directors meeting in June 1983 and again at the board meeting of August 1983, the Golden Gate Audubon Society issued a policy called the “GGAS California Condor Statement”.  In opposing the Condor Recovery Program we covered a lot of ground, much of which remain causes for deep concern about the program.  Given the very bad news from Science News 28.07.12, “Iconic species may not stand on its own without complete shift to nontoxic ammunition”, it might be intersting to see what GGAS had to say about such things back in 1983 when this issue tore a huge rift in the California conservation community, and caused major split between National Audubon and some of its chapters. 

There were nine points in the GGAS California Condor Statement.  Two of them would seem to be particularly pertinent in view of the findings about the impacts of lead poisoning on this incredible species on the very brink of extinction:

6.  The Golden Gate Audubon Society endorses a program of increased research into the effects of chemicals on the California Condor.  A major focus of this research should involve an investigation of the effects of Compound 1080 and DDT on the condor as well as other species which feed on poisoned gound squirrels.  Within the range of the condor, the use of all herbicides and pesticides shoud be stringently controlled by both Federal and State agencies.

7.  The Golden Gate Audubon Society endorses a policy of limited use of firearms in areas frequented by condors.  We support the imposition of a reasonable shell limit on hunters.  An increased number of wardens should be assigned to patrol known condor roosting, nesting and watering areas.  Hunting should not be banned unless research proves that it is detrimental to the condor.  There should be a complete ban on target shooting and random shooting of any kind including signaling distant hunters by firing weapons.

Back in 1983 we still had a chance to see condors fly over the mountains of Southern California.  GGAS field trips atop Mt. Pinos were treated to the sight of these magnificant birds soaring just feet over our heads.  We were taught some of the ways of the condor by one of the few men who had any first hand field experience with them, Eben McMillian.  In the valleys below hunters popped off hundreds of rounds, apparently just for the sake of blasting away.  It is sad that all wild condors were snatched from the wild shortly after this.  Had our proposals for reasonable restrictions on shooting and for research into the effects of chemicals on condors been taken seriously, we may not have had to wait 29 years to learn there is evidence lead poisoning continues to threaten the California Condor.   One wonders, will it take another 29 years to create conditions that allow this species to continue to exist?

JS response: 
Dan:  Thanks for sending this.  It's good perspective in and of itself, but, more to the point, it illustrates the complexity and difficulties often encountered by environmental activists.  You were flying not blind but with impaired vision as you tried to descry the future course of events pursuant to a particular decision.  You are confronted with trying to predict govt actions (eg, Compound 1080), citizen demands, and so forth.  As if that isn't complicated enough you have the practical/moral/ethical decision whether to spend huge sums of taxpayer money to save a species that:

1)  may not survive anyway, money that may be better spent on another species or project with bigger payback,
2)  weigh whether to spend the money on a keystone species (which, I think, the condor is not)
3)  and so on....

Not easy.


Socrates said it first
"I know nothing, but I know that I know nothing."
    Nicholas Oresme (1323 - 1382, French polymath, counselor of Charles V of France)


6.  Federal Highway Agency Rejects Caltrans’
Uniform Highway Widening Approach for Niles Canyon Road

FHA Proposes Safety Measures Within Existing Roadway, Improvements for Five Dangerous Spots; Suggests Less Environmentally Damaging Approach for Canyon

Caltrans held a public meeting last night to hear the preliminary findings of the Federal Highway Administration’s Road Safety Assessment for State Route 84 in Niles Canyon. More than 200 members of the public opposed to Caltrans’ highway widening project showed up at the hearing to comment and ask questions about the study.

The Federal Highway Administration conclusion is that Caltrans’ proposed uniform highway widening project for Highway 84 through Niles Canyon is not warranted by the state’s safety data.

The FHA proposed several dozen immediate measures within the existing roadway that can be quickly and inexpensively implemented to reduce vehicle collisions.

The FHA also proposed site-specific projects for five priority safety areas in the Canyon to reduce accidents at those locations to levels below state averages. Those hot spots are: 1) the narrow Rosewarnes undercrossing near the bottom of the canyon; 2) a low-speed curve near “The Spot” and the row of eucalyptus trees; 3) the Palomares Road intersection; 4) the intersections of Main Street and Pleasanton-Sunol Road with Hwy 84 in the town of Sunol; and 5) the Alameda Creek bridge in the middle of the canyon. The FHA is developing potential safety treatments for these locations that minimize environmental, visual and cultural impacts. The FHA is also proposing less extensive treatments for other areas of the canyon such as improving gravel shoulders to pavement, adding additional turnout areas, extending some existing roadway shoulders and selected vegetation removal.

The FHA is proposing a monitoring program to see how the immediate measures and site-specific projects improve safety and reduce collisions, before looking at the possible “need” in the long-term for road widening throughout the canyon.

A Federal Highway Administration team of safety experts, independent of Caltrans, evaluated accident data in Niles Canyon since 2007, when a center-line rumble strip was installed that reduced collisions. The FHA also looked at traffic patterns and motorist behaviors to determine whether safety improvements are needed. The team identified problem areas and developed possible safety-solution concepts based on the recommendations of the Road Safety Assessment and did a “Value Analysis” looking at the effectiveness and tradeoffs in impacts for different solutions.

The FHA seems genuinely interested in proposing reasonable safety solutions that do not involve needless environmental destruction. The report is not public yet and many of the preliminary ideas were quickly presented at the meeting, but some of them seem to have promise, such as paving existing gravel shoulders, installing traffic lights, making some turnouts longer, and realigning small sections of the roadway away from the creek and into hillsides at some problem areas (such as Rosewarnes underpass and lower Palomares Road intersection).

In addition to motorist safety, the FHA is looking at trying to create safer conditions for bicyclists. Our position is that Niles Canyon Road does not lend itself to safe bicycle use and that an independent hiker-biker trail through the canyon should be pursued.

The FHA will publish the Road Safety Assessment report in August.

Caltrans at the hearing promised a “clean slate” on the Niles Canyon highway safety projects and it seems as if they will give considerable weight and take seriously any FHA recommendations. Caltrans claimed it will consider FHA recommendations even if they do not comport with Caltrans guidelines.

The next step after the FHA report is finished is for Caltrans to ask questions about the report and get feedback from FHA. Caltrans will give the community about a month to review these documents and then hold a second public meeting to discuss the findings in more detail. Then Caltrans will meet with stakeholders and the public before proposing new revised projects. After that they will begin an environmental review process for any new project(s).

The presentations on the FHA’s preliminary findings from last night’s meeting are posted on the Caltrans District 4 web site:
Road Safety Assessment
View Analysis Presentation


7.  EcoDistrict Community Kick-Off

An EcoDistrict is a sustainable development strategy that the city is employing in the Central Corridor plan area to accommodate growth while meeting environmental goals. This strategy requires strong partnerships between the public and private sector. Join us to learn more about EcoDistricts and discover the role the community and private stakeholders have in governance strategy and in helping to set priorities for implementation.

August 16, 2012
12:00 p.m.-1:30 p.m.
SPUR - 654 Mission Street, 2nd floor

    •    Opening Remarks: John Rahaim, Director of Planning
    •    Presentation: EcoDistricts: Building Blocks of Sustainable Cities, Naomi Cole, Portland Sustainability Institute
    •    Presentation: San Francisco’s Sustainable Development Program, Kate McGee, San Francisco Planning Department
    •    Video Presentation: "7 Students, 4 Weeks: Creating an urban Eco-Corridor in SF", SWA Group
Discussion to Follow

Please RSVP to kate.mcgee@sfgov.orgby Monday August 13.
Refreshments will be served.

EcoDistricts: Building Blocks of Sustainable Cities
The Portland Sustainability Institute‘s EcoDistricts Program Director, Naomi Cole, will offer an introduction to the EcoDistricts approach and lessons learned from Portland's pilot districts.
PSI pioneered this work in Portland, Oregon and is now designing a North American EcoDistricts Program, intended to provide technical assistance and support to cities across the continent so they may develop sustainable neighborhoods.

For more information on EcoDistricts, visit:


8.  SAVE THE FROGS! Frog Art Fundraiser in Santa Cruz

You are invited to the inaugural SAVE THE FROGS! Art Fundraiser, which will feature over 250 pieces of the greatest frog art ever created! The Art Fundraiser will take place at Art du Jour in downtown Santa Cruz September 7th, 2012 from 5pm-9pm. We will be auctioning off amazing frog art from around the world to raise funds for our amphibian conservation efforts. Former Mayor of Santa Cruz Mike Rotkin will be in attendance as the Guest of Honor.
Most of the art was submitted to us through the first three years of our SAVE THE FROGS! Art Contest, which last year received over 2,231 entries from 31 countries. What you'll be seeing is the best of the best! This event will be fun and educational, so please bring some friends and help us out by spreading the word. And please support our work by buying your favorite piece of frog art at the event!

Please reserve your spot in advance, thanks!
We need your financial assistance to put on this event and to raise funds for our worldwide amphibian conservation efforts. Please become a VIP! Just donate $35 or more before September 7th, and we will give you a FREE piece of unframed 100% original frog art, as well as a glass of wine (21+) and a SAVE THE FROGS! wristband. Donations are tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law.
Order VIP Tickets here.
Not ready to become a VIP? No problem!
Reserve your spot with a free ticket.
And remember that donations at the door are greatly appreciated!

This painting by Frank Beifus has hung on the walls of SAVE THE FROGS! World Headquarters for over 2 years. On September 7th, you'll have the chance to make it yours!

There will be a lot more than just art at the event!
On top of there being walls covered in frog art, there will be lots of other amphibious activities to keep you throroughly entertained:
-- I will be giving a presentation on The Wild World of Frogs, suitable for all ages.
-- Rob Court of the Scribbles Institute will be giving free frog art classes from 6-8pm.
-- The Central Coast Herpetological Society will be adding a touch of amphibian appreciation to the event by bringing live frogs that will be on display. These frog lovers will be able to answer your questions about the exciting world of amphibians.
-- Live Music by myself and other frog-friendly musicians.
-- SAVE THE FROGS! eco-friendly merchandise from the Gift Center will be available!


Little Summer Poem Touching the Subject of Faith

Every summer
I listen and look
under the sun's brass and even
into the moonlight, but I can't hear

anything, I can't see anything --
not the pale roots digging down, nor the green stalks muscling up,
nor the leaves
deepening their damp pleats,

nor the tassels making,
nor the shucks, nor the cobs.
And still,
every day,

the leafy fields
grow taller and thicker --
green gowns lofting up in the night,
showered with silk.

And so, every summer,
I fail as a witness, seeing nothing --
I am deaf too
to the tick of the leaves,

the tapping of downwardness from the banyan feet --
all of it
beyond any seeable proof, or hearable hum.

And, therefore, let the immeasurable come.
Let the unknowable touch the buckle of my spine.
Let the wind turn in the trees,
and the mystery hidden in the dirt

swing through the air.
How could I look at anything in this world
and tremble, and grip my hands over my heart?
What should I fear?

One morning
in the leafy green ocean
the honeycomb of the corn's beautiful body
is sure to be there.

~ Mary Oliver ~

(West Wind)


10.  Squib from an old New Yorker:
Washington (UPI)--Senate Democratic Leader Mike Mansfield, 73, a former Montana copper miner who has led the Senate far longer than anyone in history, announced yesterday he will retire when his term ends in January.

 "There is a time to stay and a time to go," the leathery-faced Westerner said.

His announcement touched off Senate tributes which went on for 50 minutes.  Mansfield listened, his head cupped in his hand, then finally rose and cut it off.
Honolulu Advertiser                                .

Still, they went right on talking.

No comments:

Post a Comment