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, December 7, 2012


If each of us living in a highly developed country reduced our carbon footprint by 40 percent over 40 years, all of that would be cancelled by our present population growth rates alone. London School of Economics Study

1.   Beyond 7 billion: Bending the population curve
2.   Restore Hetch Hetchy is recruiting interns
3.   The Isles of Monarch: An Expedition to Two Islands in the Bay to See the Famous 

       Migrating Butterflies Dec 9
4.   December events in Claremont Canyon
5.   Feedback: Afr clawed frogs, solar cookers v cow plops, Prop 37 et al
6.   Why save farmland?
7.   SF Parks Alliance survey
8.   Save the planet -
9.   Owls
10. On Pilgrimage - Czeslaw Milosz
11.  Poet Kirk Lumpkin in SF Dec 10
12.  Coastal Commission meets in SF Dec 12-14
13.  Fiscal cliff, in words and pictures
14.  Notes & Queries: Is religion still the opiate of the people?

1.  Op-Ed December 2, 2012 - Los Angeles Times
Beyond 7 billion: Bending the population curve
Population experts from around the globe explain some of the approaches they've seen work — and the reasons others have not.,0,1448743.story

(Climate problem?  What climate problem?)


Restore Hetch Hetchy is recruiting interns for the Winter semester/quarter who are willing to play a key role the organization's social media, public relations, grass roots organizing and fundraising efforts. Our offices are in downtown San Francisco and the mission of Restore Hetch Hetchy is to return the Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite National Park to its natural splendor while continuing to meet the water and power needs of all communities that depend on the Tuolumne River.

This is a unique opportunity to develop hands-on experience promoting a historic environmental campaign and working within a dynamic non-profit.   Qualified applicants should be confident and articulate strategic thinkers who care deeply about the environment. Strong research and writing skills, computer literacy and an attention to detail are a must. An interest in water issues, environmental restoration and backpacking is preferred.

Weekly responsibilities will vary and may include but not be limited to:
    •    Drafting monthly e-newsletters
    •    Designing and implementing social media campaigns
    •    Coordinating letters to the editor
    •    Event marketing and logistics coordination
    •    Volunteer recruitment
    •    Researching and drafting brief issue papers
    •    General office support

Interns must be able to commit to 8-10 hours a week. Transportation costs will be reimbursed.

To apply send a cover letter, a resume and three references to Incomplete applications will not be considered. No phone calls please.


California Native Plant Society field trip - free and open to the public

DECEMBER 9, SUNDAY, 10 am to 2 pm
The Isles of Monarch: An Expedition to Two Islands in the Bay to See the Famous Migrating Butterflies

Leaders: Ruth Gravanis and Liam O'Brien

CNPS Yerba Buena Chapter lepidopterist Liam O'Brien was excited to discover that as monarchs (Danaus plexippus) approach SF on their southerly migration, one of the first places they land is out in the Bay on Treasure Island/Yerba Buena Island. Activist Ruth Gravanis has been a strong advocate for good ecological management of TI/YBI throughout the process of base conversion and redevelopment planning and she knows where the botanical treasures are. We'll walk to the summit of YBI for a unique, eye-level canopy view of overwintering behavior, then head to TI to look for a roost in a grove of mature eucalyptus trees planted in a bowl formation. Large numbers of monarchs were anticipated this year but field work since mid-November has revealed the opposite: they are there, but fewer than last year. We’ll discuss how these creatures have adapted to natural and unnatural settings and what we can do to help them while they are our guests for a season. While we’re looking, we’ll count butterflies and later report our data to the Xerces Society. Overcast skies and/or stiff breezes will postpone to the 16th. Rsvp to Liam at; he will provide details about when and where to meet the bus that will take us to the islands. The terrain is steep, rough, and not disabled accessible. Please wear sturdy shoes, bring binoculars if you have them, and be sure to bring lunch and liquids.


4.  December Events in Claremont Canyon
Sunday, December 9 The Birds of Claremont Canyon
Bird walk 8:00 a.m. to noon led by Dave Quady, Audubon Christmas bird count leader and Kay Loughman, creator of the website Wildlife in the North Hills. Details to follow. Check our website.

December 13, 14 and 15 -- Planting in Garber Park
It’s planting time again in Garber Park.  Join us for our 3rd year of planting natives on the hillside at the Evergreen Lane entrance to Garber Park.    Lech Naumovich, botanist and executive director of the Golden Hour Restoration Institute will once again lead us as we plant over 200 native plants.  Lech will tour the results of the last two years of very successful planting and discuss selection of native plants for microsites found on the hillside.
Meet at the Evergreen Lane entrance at 10:00 a.m. to sign in, enjoy some coffee and snacks before we get to work.

We need your help to ensure another successful restoration planting day.  As always there will be many different kinds of activities that volunteers can do on planting day – not everyone needs to climb the hill or dig in the dirt.  Other activities include:  taking photographs, cataloging and sorting the plants.  Volunteers are also needed to pass the individual plants to those on the hillside.

Can’t make it on Saturday?  Have an hour or two to help out on Thursday, December 13 or Friday, December 14?  We will be in the park preparing for Saturday.  We could use your help clearing the slope, transporting plants from the nurseries and collecting logs for planting beds.  Contact Shelagh 510-540-1918 or email to find out ways that you may be able to help. For more information about the Garber Park Stewards and their habitat restoration efforts in Garber Park visit our blog

NOTE: For all stewardship work and hikes, please wear long pants, long sleeves, gloves and sturdy boots or shoes.
For a summary of all of the Conservancy's current activities, please see the home page of our website:


5.  Feedback

Eric Mills:
Thanks for running the Tom Knudson piece (rodenticides and wildlife).  Truly sobering. 

Your closing comment re Mr. Buffet reminds me of a favorite saying from U Utah Phillips (as I recall):  "The planet is not dying, it's being killed.  And those doing the killing have names and addresses."

Mary Keitelman:
Definitely Bushtits! and i've seen them do this in my backyard, where one day they found a spot on a branch in the sun on a branch, and it got so warm they just dozed in the sun for a whole 20-30 minutes -- until the angle of the sun changed so much they were in shade.

Thanks for publishing the info about stealth CEQA --

Bushtits bask in in the sun, huh?  That's news to me.  I've never seen a motionless bushtit, much less a flock of them.  Busy little flockers.

Pat Monk:
Greetings Jake.
The audience here may be 'small' but I think it is critical, involved and informed.
While we may not 'win', I would like to remind everyone that with almost 500,000 ballots still uncounted the current tally of votes is:-
Considering the tens of millions of dollars that "Monsanto" and the Agrichemical Industry spent to defeat us, I think David just put a big hurt on Goliath.
 IMHO I think that, second to the importance of 'Overturning Citizens United', this issue is possibly the most critical problem facing us right now. It is an attempt to not only ensure the 'integrity' of the world's food supply, but also preserve the biodiversity essential to the survival of all species.
"We" started this action over a year ago led by Pamm Larry, her/our original website has been re-activated:-
At least 30 states are now preparing similar actions, the most immediate is Washington.
Please investigate and then decide if you want 'join us'.
We will become what we eat, if we live long enough.
Patrick Monk.RN.
Co-Founder: Noe Valley Farmers Market. SF. Ca. 94114

I will post this item.

As to Prop 37, I voted for it, largely out of my unhappiness at the way the whole GMO thing has been handled--and yes, I have Monsanto particularly in mind.  The way it and other corporations--and governments--have been handling this issue is disturbing to me.

As to the merits of 37, I am unsure, in spite of the fact that I voted for it.  I know nothing of the health effects of eating GM foods.  I have read plenty of stuff about it for last several years, but no hard information that has been scientifically vetted.  Being conservative, I buy only organically- or sustainably-grown foods.  (However, my primary motive is because of the abuse of land by agribusiness.)

Please don't send me information on health effects of GM food, as I am constantly deluged and can't keep up.
Thanks Jake, much appreciated. As a real old radicalzenanarcho-yippiehumanistmofo I also have reservations. I tend not to trust anyone in the 'political' arena who has risen above the level of dog catcher, but sometimes I feel that I just have to 'impose' on folks like you.
AND I just added some words to my vocabulary.  Perhaps I should forward these to A Word A Day:  radicalzenanarcho-yippiehumanistmofo

Whew.  I'm breathless.

Peter Vaernet (re Warren Buffett):

On Dec 1, 2012, at 1:08 PM, Jean Ouellette wrote:
Hi, Jake -
    Your discussion of the increasing use of solar cookers was encouraging.  Here's an alternative.

    For a number of years I've been donating, selectively**, to Heifer International.  I'm not convinced that all the items that they provide to needy families overseas and in the U.S. are suitable for the locations (e.g., trees for land stabilization.  What species are they using?), so I try to choose products that are site-appropriate.

(**    To clarify my previous email, "donating selectively" to Heifer International means purchasing as a "gift" (usually on behalf of my brother and his daughters) specific things such as bees and beekeeping information ('course the bees themselves could be competing with native species...) and indigenous critters like llamas.)

    One intriguing commodity they're offering is a biogas stove (  This uses methane derived from animal waste, reducing the gathering of firewood and the introduction of waste pollutants into drinking water.  It necessitates acquiring/constructing a digester (, but the long-term benefits should be significant.

I will post your item, Jean.

However, without researching it (no time to do that), I wonder about getting rid of animal waste.  As you know, cow plops are both an important source of fuel to many people, not to mention that many of the lands need the fertilizing.  You probably already checked this out.
Actually, I hadn't researched this, but I wonder if the de-methaned waste wouldn't still be valuable as a soil amendment.  The carbon component would be removed, but wouldn't the nitrogen remain?  And whatever cellulose was still present would lighten soil texture.  I suspect that there's no shortage of endemic soil bacteria....
Evidently our conversation is a case of the blind leading the blind.  Add to that that we are lacking information about what part of the world, what is the local situation, &c.  And then, the process of retrieving the methane but retaining the fertilizer may render the whole thing infeasible.  Perhaps some knowledgeable people are thinking about this.
    A couple of studies on the topic that discuss biogas stove usage in various countries without addressing the fertilizer issue appear at the Brown University "Engineers Without Borders" site (re: Tanzania) - and in the SNV Netherlands Development Organisation paper "Popular Summary of the Test Results on Biogas Stoves and Lamps" (re: Bangladesh, Cambodia, Ethiopia, India, Lesotho, Nepal, Rwanda and Vietnam) -

Eric Mills:
Back in June of 2003 (!) when the African clawed frogs were discovered by Academy of Sciences personnel at Lily Pond, the DFG organized an immediate clean-up operation, overseen by my since-retired warden friend, Miles Young.  He had a crew of about thirty scheduled to drain the pond, strain the contents, and euthanize all the ACFs, their tadpoles and eggs.  Should have been a snap:  pond's only about the size of an olympic  swimming pool, with a rock bottom, only about 2-3-feet deep, and surrounded on three sides by steep hills.  At the time, Stanford's Dr. Sherril Green (sp?) estimated that there could have been as many as 10,000 frogs in the pond (which I seriously doubt).  And again, this species is a major carrier of the chytrid fungus (though none of those necropsied have tested positive, reportedly).

The project was aborted at the last minute (about 6 hours before inception) by DFG personnel in Sacramento, strictly for POLITICAL reasons (according to Miles), and I believe him.  Their official response was that they weren't 100% sure that the procedure proposed would get all the frogs.

So here we are, nine years later, with an invasive, prohibited non-native still there.  Any kid with a dipnet could have (and probably has) dispersed the frogs.  Indeed, we've seen herons carry off live frogs to end up who-knows-where?  There's also a population of red-legged frogs nearby in the Arboretum put at risk.

And all this time the DFG has been saying it's the Rec & Parks' responsibility, while they hold DFG responsible.  Over the years there's been a very sporadic (and ineffective) netting program led by DFG's Eric Larson (Santa Rosa?).  I remain convinced that the original plan was and is the only viable solution.

I can almost smell the lawsuits when the African frogs are found in other bodies of water in the park, or elsewhere.

But hey!  What do I know?

On Dec 1, 2012, at 11:03 AM, Eric Mills wrote:
> Jake, do you perchance have any update on the doings at Lily Pond in Golden Gate Park?
> A few of us have been nagging Rec & Park (and the DFG) since 2003 to drain and strain the pond to get rid of the prohibited population of African clawed frogs there, to no avail.
> The pond was recently fenced, and I've heard rumors that Rec & Park is planning to use poisons and nets to rid the frogs. Not likely to work, in my opinion. (Not only are the frogs non-native, they're notorious carriers of the chytrid fungus.)  Any info you have would be appreciated

I'm afraid to ask why you don't think it will work. If it is known that it won't work, why do they do it? (I see your eyes rolling to the ceiling.) Perhaps because then they can say they tried? What treatment do you think might work?

On Dec 3, 2012, at 5:06 PM, Alice Polesky wrote:
A piece in The Huff. I figured you're probably already au fait with this info, Jake, but I thought I'd pass it along in case you wanted to share the link.

I am so disgusted with the approval of this project that I can't see straight.  A billion dollars of Fed money and god knows how much from SF Muni (as if we don't have enough problems with Muni already) - and, of course, there will be humongous cost overruns, so we'll cut service even more to pay for them.  All this because of Willie Brown, Rose Pak, Dianne Feinstein, Nancy Pelosi and others.  For awhile I lived in the fantasy that the Republicans in Congress would stop it--I mean, a billion dollars, and they'd love to stick it to Democratic California, pinko San Francisco, and all our pols.  They failed.  Aren't the Republicans good for ANYTHING?

And yes, Chinatown and North Beach will find out too late what construction entails, and what a boondoggle this is.  I try not to think about it when I'm trying to sleep.
Sorry! I hope I didn't upset you even more. It does sound like a disaster.
Don't let it worry you, Alice.  I cope with this kind of stuff every day, all day.  It's called Western Civilization.

However, it may be coming to an end.  Will that be good news or bad news?

Put your free No Farms No Food bumper sticker on your car, truck or your bulletin board at work. You can even distribute them at your local farmers market or county fair!

When you display your No Farms No Food bumper sticker, you're helping raise awareness about the importance of saving farmland and keeping farmers on the land.  Get Your Free No Farms No Food Bumper Sticker today!

Why save farmland?
1 We have been losing more than 1 acre every minute. 
2 Along with water and air, farmland is critical to sustaining life.
3 Farming employs nearly 16 million people, more than 9% of the labor force.
4 Well-managed farmland provides clean water, air and wildlife habitat.


7.  TAKE THE 2012 San Francisco Parks Alliance SURVEY!

As a next step toward our evolution as a new organization, SFPA announces a revamped membership program coming in February 2013 - with new benefits, new events, and an easier single annual renewal period. To help us fashion this new program and best serve you, we ask you to take a moment to complete our brief survey.

We have one survey for current members, and one survey for non-members- just click the applicable button below. The survey takes about 5 minutes to complete and helps us learn more about how we can better meet your needs as a San Francisco parks and open space lover. Two survey respondents will be chosen at random to win a free iPod- in your choice of color of course! (You must include at least your name and email address on the survey so we can contact you as a winner).

(current member) (I'm not a member)

The most important gift in the world!      Save the Planet  Sure it’s a bold statement. But one we think is true. Here’s how:
SaveNature.Org has the perfect Holiday gift!
SaveNature is offering a gift that will last for generations to come. Adopt An Acre of rainforest or coral reef habitat for the nature lover in your life. Add some sweetness by including delicious See's Chocolate! Your gift will help save threatened habitats of Costa Rica and coral reef of Palau.
Choose from our three options:
Option 1: Earth Saver, $25 = 1/4 acre personalized gift rainforest or reef deed
Option 2: Earth Explorer, $50 = 1/4 acre Adopt An Acre - Rainforest, Costa Rica with deed and a box of See's Assorted Chocolates (1 lb.)
Option 3: Earth Crusader, $50 = 1/4 acre Adopt A Reef - Coral Reef, Palau and a box of See's Assorted Chocolates (1 lb.)

Go to to place your order today!  If you don’t, they'll disappear fast!

Shop Online with and SaveNature.Org. 
‘Tis the season to shop online!  Not only does this allow you to stay away from the busy traffic and crowded shopping centers but it also enables you to make the world a better place. This year please consider using during your online shopping to support SaveNature.Org.  The process is easy! All you need to do is register and then every time you search the web, shop online or dine out, will donate a penny or small percentage of the cost to SaveNature.Org. is the easiest way to make a difference.  Please register at today and enjoy the gift of giving!


"I rejoice that there are owls."  Thoreau



On Pilgrimage

May the smell of thyme and lavender accompany us on our journey
To a province that does not know how lucky it is
For it was, among all the hidden corners of the earth,
The only one chosen and visited.

We tended toward the Place but no signs led there.
Till it revealed itself in a pastoral valley
Between mountains that look older than memory,
By a narrow river humming at the grotto.

May the taste of wine and roast meat stay with us
As it did when we used to feast in the clearings,
Searching, not finding, gathering rumors,
Always comforted by the brightness of the day.

May the gentle mountains and the bells of the flocks
Remind us of everything we have lost,
For we have seen on our way and fallen in love
With the world that will pass in a twinkling.

~ Czeslaw Milosz ~

(New & Collected Poems, translations by Czeslaw Milosz and Robert Hass)


11.  The Coastal Commission is meeting in SF Dec 12-14, and there are 3 points where we might want to attend:

They will open their meeting with a 4-hour workshop on sea level rise. 

December 12, 8:30 a.m. - 12:30 a.m. San Francisco Sheraton Fisherman's Wharf, 2500 Mason Street
California Coastal Commission
docket item 4.5
Coastal Commission public workshop

Dr Gary Griggs, Director, Institute of Marine Sciences at UC Santa Cruz and NRC Scientific Commitee Member will present:
Findings and California Highlights of the National Research Council's Report "Sea-Level Rise for the Coasts of California, Oregon, and Washington: Past, Present, and Future"

see for latest updates


12.  Featured Poet: Kirk Lumpkin
(I had previously put this out as an event that The Word-Music Continuum would perform at, but that is not happening. —Kirk)

plus an open mic
admission: free

Monday, December 10, 2012

Poetry at
Caffé Greco
423 Columbus Ave.
(North Beach)
San Francisco

13.  Fiscal cliff

In the early 1990s, James Carville, Bill Clinton's campaign manager, said:  "I used to think if there was reincarnation I wanted to come back as the president or the pope...but now I want to come back as the bond market.  You can intimidate everybody."                                                
JS:  Um, everybody?  We'll see how seriously Congress takes the bond market.  We hope that the current face-offs between the two political
parties is just part of the necessary choreography of arriving at a difficult decision, and that we won't go over the cliff.  Given the highly
polarized climate I don't take anything for granted anymore.  Will we voters need to cut the rope?

 (Cartoon failed to post, JS)

"Nothing is so fatal to a nation as an extreme of self-partiality."  Edmund Burke
"An artful taxman so plucks the goose as to obtain the most feathers for the least hissing."    Jean-Baptiste Colbert, treasurer to Louis XIV


14.  Notes & Queries, Guardian Weekly

Is religion still the opiate of the people? If not, what has replaced it?
If religion ever was the opiate of the masses, it certainly is not now. All over the world religious beliefs and factions are rousing masses of masses to violent and destructive action. In societies where religion is not taken so seriously perhaps video games and downloaded music may serve this relaxative function.
Daan Zwick, Rochester, New York, US

• Yes, it is still promising pie in the sky when you die, but fewer people are listening. 
Dick Hedges, Nairobi, Kenya

• No – post-Thatcher: money and alcohol have taken over. The good that religions once did has gone with the baby out of the bathwater.
Edward Black, Pauanui, New Zealand

• Religion is no longer the opiate. However, arguing about it still is.
Ethan Sandweiss, Bloomington, Indiana, US

• Sport.
Brian Clapson, Trébeurden, France

• Consumerism.
Peter D Jones, Lenah Valley, Tasmania, Australia

• Television.
Michael Gregory, Sandy Bay, Tasmania, Australia

• Facebook.
Barrie Sargeant, Otaki Beach, New Zealand

• Celebrity worship.
Nigel Grinter, Chicago, Illinois, US

• Increasingly sophisticated electronic devices.
Joan Dawson, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

• Some think that opiates are the religion of the people.
David Isaacs, Sydney, Australia

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