Archive for October, 2011

Keeping Nature in the City
Guest Speaker:  Peter Brastow
7:30pm, Thursday, October 20th, 2011
FREE at the Randall Museum, 199 Museum Way, San Francisco, CA 

Nature in the City’s founder Peter Brastow shares his vision of how we can more meaningfully interact with the wild in our city: restoring natural areas in our neighborhoods and backyards and through projects like the Twin Peaks Bioregional Park and the Green Hairstreak Corridor.

Peter Brastow founded Nature in the City in 2005 with the idea of connecting urban people to where we live. Doing this would help the growing movement to conserve San Francisco’s natural areas and biodiversity, helping to carry ecological restoration and stewardship further. Peter had previously served as the Presidio’s National Park Service Ecological Restoration Specialist.

You can read more about Nature in the City and their projects at natureinthecity.org.

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A Changed Landscape

To a packed house on September 15, Greg Gaar gave a great tour through the history of San Francisco with his collection of slides.  The land on which our city sits has irrevocably changed through the hand (and machines) of mankind. There were dunes, lakes, coastal prairies, tidal bays that today are gone, or were buried beneath the expanding city. The sands of SOMA were used to fill in the waters of Mission Bay. Creeks now run underneath our streets, the native trees long since cut down and replaced with the Eucalyptus.

Ocean Beach and san dunes

Beach Below Cliff House 1865

Sutro was apparently one of Greg Gaar’s childhood heroes, only later did he realize the damage that the huge groves of tree have done. To highlight these he contrasted a Eucalyptus forest in Australia to one here. The one here was dominated by one tree and two ivys, it looked nothing like the Australian forest.

The story is as much a social one as a natural one: with tales like Sutro’s, but also involve cemeteries, grazing, private water companies, railroads, laundries, butchers, and now restorations. Greg also gave us a tour of the 32 Natural Areas that are spread through the city, and while there are many challenges they is also hope. The restoration of Heron’s Head with its recently spotted Clapper Rails being a highlight, but overall it is an exciting time: we now know how to repair biological systems — and can repair them.

There is also a hopefully growing appreciation of nature: when the sea lions first appeared at Pier 39, people wanted to get rid of them. It’s hard to imagine that mindset now.

Greg encouraged us to imagine other possibilities, no matter how seemingly outlandish. We cannot site back and let the planet go to ruin at our hands.

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