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Freshwater Fish Hanging in There
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c o n t e n t s
FR OM P E R C H TO PI K E M I N N O W S Th e Fre s hwate r Fi sh Th at D i d n’t G e t Away While salmon get all the press, other native fish in East Bay watersheds have beenwagingaquietstruggleforsurvival againstamultitudeofchallenges,from damstochannelizationandurbanrunoff. Butongoingrestorationandeducation efforts by the East Bay Regional Park District and several nonprofits may provide these fish — from perch to roach to rainbow trout — brighter prospects for the future. by Glen Martin
B EHI ND THE BO OM Un ea r t hing t he S ec ret s o f th e M onterey Shale
OC EAN AC ID TRIP The H id d en Har m o f C lim ate C hange
Oil exploration has been a big business in California for many years, but now new methods of extracting oil — such asfrackingandacidization — fromahuge geologicalformationunderlyingmuch ofthecentralstateportendanewboom. What makes the Monterey Formation such a “gold mine” for the drillers, and how will the drilling affect the aboveground wildlife as well as the belowground water and geology? by Sarah Phelan
As humans have emitted increasing amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere,muchofthisgreenhousegas hasbeenabsorbedbytheworld’soceans, dramaticallyalteringthechemistryofthe marineenvironment.Newstudiesalong thePacificcoastareseekingtomeasure the impact of heightened acidity for many of the creatures, from sea slugs to salmon, that live in these rapidly changing waters. by Joe Eaton
Departments 4 Bay View
Letter from the publisher
5 Letter from the Former Editor 6 Letters from our Readers 7 Ear to the Ground
News from the conservation communityandthenaturalworld
8 Conservation in Action
Photos of“king tides”drive home the message of sea level rise. by Daniel McGlynn
10 Signs of the Season Lace lichen and“old man’s beard” by Ron Sullivan
On the Trail
12 By Land and by Sea Monumental Preservation on the Mendocino Coast Have you ever heard of the California Coastal National Monument? Well, neither had we, until conservation groups stitched together 3,300 acres of spectacular publicly-accessible shoreline near Point Arena. by Meade Fischer
16 Elsewhere . . . Alviso, MLK Jr. Regional Shoreline, Tubbs Island
34 First Person
Sue Gardner hooks a new generation on stewardship of nature nearby. interview by Jacoba Charles
45 Ask the Naturalist
Treefrog or chorus frog? by Michael Ellis
46 Naturalist’s Notebook
visit us online at www.baynature.org
Lost in the lichen jungle by John Muir Laws
bay v i e w letter from the publisher
t can be saidthatthenatureofnature ischange.Thatdoesn’tmeanchange is necessarily good or bad. It just is. And the best advice is often to embrace the changeinsteadofdigginginyourheels in a hopeless attempt to prevent it. However,IhavetoadmitthatIveered moretowardthelatterresponsewhen long-timeeditorialdirectorDanRademacherinformedmeinearly Julythathe’ddecidedtotake another job and move on aftermorethannineyearsat Bay Nature. (See Dan’s letter on the next page.)To understand my initial response, you have to understand the central role that Dan has played at Bay NaturesinceFebruary2004.Atthetime, I’d just received a cancer diagnosis and neededtostepawayforafewmonthsfor treatmentandsurgery.Bycoincidence, Dan had written a few weeks earlier expressing interest in working at Bay Nature. What did I have to lose? Thattemporary,part-time,fill-ingig turnedintoalong-term,over-time,fullon partnership with one of the most dedicatedandtalentedpeopleI’veever hadthepleasureofworkingwith.Since then,eachissueofBayNaturehasbeen the result of a collaboration between the two of us. Our website, on the other hand, has been mostly Dan’s doing, as hetwiceguidedathoroughoverhaulof Baynature.org,shapingitintoadynamic portalforinformationaboutthenatural world of the Bay Area. It’s no exaggeration to say that Dan will be — already is — sorely missed. However,afterdenialcomesaccepcont r ib u to r s Journalist Alessandra Bergamin (p. 7) is originally from Australia. Now she’s a Bay Nature editorial intern. Find her work at alessandrabergamin.com. Jacoba Charles (p. 34) is a North Bay freelance journalist whose work has appeared in the New York Times and the Point Reyes Light, and on Salon.com. Michael Ellis (p. 45) is a Santa Rosa-based naturalist who leads nature-based tours with Footloose Forays (footlooseforays.com).
by david loeb
tance, and I’m thrilled to introduce our new editorial director. Bay Area native Eric Simons is a young environmental journalist with two books, countless articles,andseveralstintsteachingatthe UCBerkeleyJ-Schoolalreadyunderhis belt.Plus,hehasthoughtlongandhard abouttheexcitingopportunitiesoffered bytheinternetandsocialmediafornew waysoftellingstoriesaboutpeopleand natureandforreachingnewaudiences. This is just where we want to go. There will be more changes coming aswell:Graphicdesignerextraordinaire DavidBullen,whohasbeenwithussince thebeginning,willberetiring aftertheJanuary2014issue. It is David who’s been most responsibleforthebeautiful “look and feel”of the magazine that makes holding a copy such a pleasure. With thisnearlycompletechange in the team responsible for Bay Nature (except — for better or worse — yours truly) there are bound to be changes coming in the magazine itself. What they’ll be, I don’t yet know. But I’d love to have your input as we figure it out, so I invite you to participate in the Bay NatureReaders’Survey(baynature.org/ survey). It will only take ten minutes of your time, but it will definitely help us chart our future course. One possible direction: more of the cross-platformcoverageofsubstantive issueswe’veinitiatedwiththe“Fracking intheGoldenState”seriesthathasbeen rollingoutonBaynature.orgsinceearly August (baynature.org/fracking) and continuesinthisissue.Bylookingatthe underlying geology and the potential habitatimpacts,wetakeauniquely“Bay Nature”approach to this controversial topic and hopefully help inform your personal take on it. We’d love to know what you think. Alison Hawkes (p. 40) is Bay Nature’s online editor. Naturalist and illustrator John Muir Laws (p. 46) is the author of the Laws Guide to Drawing Birds and teaches nature observation and illustration. Info at johnmuirlaws.com Claire Mathieson (p. 39) had a great summer as a Bay Nature editorial intern and is now in France, starting a career teaching English abroad. Summer editorial intern Jackson Mauze (p. 36) grew up in Marin and now attends Davidson College in North Carolina, where he misses the fog.
BayNature Exploring, celebrating, and understanding the natural world of the San Francisco Bay Area
Volume 13, Issue 4 october–december 2013 Publisher David Loeb Editorial Director Eric Simons Development Director Judith Katz Online Editor Alison Hawkes Marketing & Outreach Director Beth Slatkin Office Manager Jenny Stampp Tech & Data Manager Laura Schatzkin Advertising Director Ellen Weis Design & Production David Bullen Contributing Editor Sue Rosenthal Copy Editors Cynthia Rubin, Jeannine Gendar Board of Directors Larry Orman (President), Malcolm Margolin (Emeritus), Carol Baird, Christopher Dann, Catherine Fox, Tracy Grubbs, Bruce Hartsough, David Loeb, John Raeside, Bob Schildgen, Nancy Westcott Volunteers/Interns Alessandra Bergamin, Jaquelyn Davis, Paul Epstein, Jill Fidler, Will Fraker, Claire Mathieson, Jackson Mauze, Asbery Rainey, Kimberly Teruya Bay Nature is published quarterly by the Bay Nature Institute, 1328 6th Street #2, Berkeley, CA 94710 Subscriptions: $53.95/three years; $39.95/two years; $21.95/one year; (888)422-9628, baynature.org P.O. Box 92408, Long Beach, CA 90809 Advertising: (510)email@example.com Editorial & Business Office: 1328 6th Street #2, Berkeley, CA 94710 (510)528-8550; (510)528-8117 (fax) firstname.lastname@example.org baynature.org issn 1531-5193 No part of this magazine may be reproduced without written permission from Bay Nature and its contributors. © 2013 Bay Nature Printed by Commerce Printing (Sacramento, CA) using soy-based inks and alternative energy.
Front Cover: A hooded merganser contemplates lunch while a stickleback contemplates mortality. Native freshwater fish are an important part of our aquatic ecosystems. (Taken at Lloyd Lake in Golden Gate Park.) © Steve Zamek, featherlightphoto.com Daniel McGlynn (p. 8) is an independent Bay Area journalist who covers science and the environment. Sue Rosenthal (p. 16) is Bay Nature’s contributing editor. Ann Sieck (p. 16) is dedicated to helping people with disabilities, including those using wheelchairs, find parks and trails they can enjoy. See her reviews at baynature.org/asiecker. Ron Sullivan (p. 10) is a nature fiend who lives in Berkeley and, with spouse Joe Eaton, writes “The Dirt,” an irregular garden column in the San Francisco Chronicle.
hen I walked into Bay Nature’s office in February 2004, Ihadneverrunamagazinebefore.Iwas29yearsold.For the first year or two, it was often disconcerting when I’d meet authors,sources,orphotographersinpersonafterworkingwith themformonthsonanissueofthemagazine.They’dsay,“Wait, you’reDan?TheeditorI’vebeenworkingwith?”Alwaysimplying some good-natured concern that I was in over my head. I lookedabityoungtobesendingallthosetexteditsandbuying all those photos. A decade later, I don’t hear that so much. I guess I don’t look so young anymore. Especiallyinthoseearlyyears,Ilearnedanincredibleamount aboutlocalnatureandtheconservationcommunityfrompublisherDavidLoebandourboard,notablypresidentLarryOrman. I learned as much about magazine-making from our graphic designer, David Bullen. By the time you read this, I’ll be two months into a new role forSanFrancisco–basedStamenDesign,aninnovativefirmthat makes digital magic out of data and maps. When I decided to leave Bay Nature, I was moved to tally up ourworkoveradecade:39magazineissues,morethan100guided hikes,about1,600articles(inprintandonline),andsome5,000 photos, maps, and paintings. Oh, and two major rebuilds of
BayNature.org,whereyou’llfindtonsofnews,events,andtrail reviews. ButBayNaturehasalwaysbeenaplaceofqualityoverquantity,andbehindthosenumbersareincrediblepeople — notjust the folks named above but also the rest of the board and staff, volunteers,donors,funders,sponsoringorganizations,advertisers,reporters,photographers,artists,andlegionsofexpertsand enthusiastsreadytosharetheirpassionswithusandwithour readers. The Bay Nature staff spends a surprising amount of time indoors,oncomputers,pushingthroughalltheworkofrunning atop-notchmagazineandwebsite.Butmostofthebestmemories, not surprisingly, happened outdoors. TherewasthetimeIgottoridewithphotographerStephen JosephontheEastBayRegionalParkDistrict’shelicopter,toget photosoftheConcordNavalWeaponsStationandofamajestic old oak in the OhloneWilderness. (The chopper was doing itsnormalrounds.)AndthentherewasthetimeahikeronRing Mountaingotdehydratedandhadtobeairliftedoutinasheriff’s department helicopter (not part of its normal rounds!). FromClearLakeandthePalisadestoFremontPeakandthe BigCreekReservesouthofCarmel,I’vebeentosomanyplaces and met so many remarkable people. Thanks to all of you for theopportunitytodothat!Ilookforwardtodiscoveringmore placesthroughBayNatureforyearstocome.[ DanRademacher]
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To the Editor: I enjoyed Alessandra Bergamin’s article ontheSanJosebeavers(“BeaversBackin SanJose,”July–September2013),butwas disappointedthattheissuedidn’tusethe opportunitytohighlightbeavers’impact onbiodiversity.DanielMcGlynn’sarticle onoutmigrationofsteelhead(“Counting FishAfterThey’veHatched”)shouldhave triggeredadiscussionofbeaverbenefitto salmonidsingeneral.Theissuehasbeenso consistentlydemonstratedbytheNational OceanicandAtmosphericAdministration that the Methow Project in Washington relocates beavers for this purpose and houses them temporarily in unused fish hatcheries! Beaverpondsconsistentlyhavemore complexinvertebratecommunities,greater fishpopulationdensityanddiversity,and more varied waterfowl. They raise the water table, cool temperatures through
hyporheicexchange[mixingofstreamand groundwater — Ed.] and they are used in Utah and New Mexico to offset the drought effects of climate change. California is far behind its neighbors inunderstandingbeaverbenefits,andBay Nature should be a leader in moving it forward. HeidiPerryman,presidentandfounder, Worth A Dam, martinezbeavers.org Sendyourletterstoletters@baynature.org
No Bay Nature Hikes in this Issue Dear Reader, Due to the recent staff transitions and the fact that this quarter’s“On theTrail” article travels farther afield than usual, wehaven’tplannedanyoutingsinconjunction with this issue. My apologies. We’ll return with some fun hikes in the Januaryissue.Inthemeantime,youcan findgreatoutingsontheeventscalendar at baynature.org/events. David Loeb, Publisher
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news from the community and the natural world Can John Muir Save the Alhambra Hills?
David Collier, dcollierphoto.com
The Alhambra Hills on the outskirts of the East Bay town of Martinez are only afewminutesawayfromthehomestead oflegendaryconservationistJohnMuir. Soit’snothardtoimaginethegreatman himselftraversingthisinvitingridgeasa respite from working on his farm. And according to family accounts, it’s likely that he did. However, for a number of years, this area of grasslands and oak woodlands has been under threat from a series of developmentplans.Currently,thelandis ownedbyRichfieldInvestmentCorporation,whoseplantoconstructa110-home
subdivisiononthe297-acreparcelwas approvedin2011.Theseplanshavenot goneuncontested:TheAlhambraHills OpenSpaceCommitteehasbeenbuilding community support for a plan to save this beautiful and historically important piece of open space from development. “Wecametogetheraroundtheconcept of trying to find a way to buy these hills as open space because they’re so iconic,” says Tim Platt, a member of ahosc. “There’s beautiful wildlife up there,theoaksaretremendous,thereare endangered species like the Alameda whipsnake,andthereiseventalkabout it being a corridor for mountain lions.” ThegroupishopingthatJohnMuir’s connection to this property will help make the case for its protection.
Accounts from Ross Hanna, Muir’s grandson, and David Hanna, his greatgrandson,confirmthatthefamilyowned landinthehills.AccordingtoDavid,the Muirs and the Strentzels (John Muir’s wife’sfamily) ownedaround2,600acres of land in the area, including what they referred to as the “East Hill,” now known as the Alhambra Hills, which Muir’sdaughterWandalaterinherited. David Hanna’s home is nestled behindanovergrowngardenonaquiet road outside Martinez below Mount Wanda(namedafterJohnMuir’sdaughter).Hehasfondmemoriesoftramping aroundandhuntinginthearea,including the Alhambra Hills, as a child. “I’ve been all over those hills,” says Hanna. “Like [roller] coasters we used to come down those fire trails as kids.” The battle over the development of the Alhambra Hills has been going on since the early 1970s, when a housing developmentwasfirstproposedonthe ridgeline.A1990proposalincludedthree separatesubdivisionswithatotalof216 units. But the discovery of threatened Alameda whipsnakes on the property caused the proposal to be downsized to a 110-unit subdivision, with a setaside of 218 acres for Alameda whipsnake habitat. Richfield president Ricardo Sabella has promised to hold off grading or David Collier, dcollierphoto.com
e a r to t he grou n d
buildinguntilApril2014,togiveahosc anopportunitytoraisefundstobuythe property. But according to Platt, the price is beyond the (continuedonpage36) october–december 2013
by daniel mcglynn
conse r vat i on i n a c ti o n
Sea Level Rise Photos Worth a Thousand Words
On January 22, 2012, at 10:15 in the morning,SherylDrinkwaterstoodona soggypieceofgroundnearRadioBeach at the northeast foot of the Bay Bridge. Behind her, cars whizzed through the toll plaza. In front of her, the normally sandybeachwassubmerged.Theaccess roadtothebeach,whichrunsparallelto the freeway, was also under a couple of inches of litter-laced water. The flooding was not the result of a biblical deluge or a freak winter storm pushed by crisp winter winds from the North Pacific. Instead, the Bay nearly lapping the toll plaza was caused by a particular alignment of the sun, the moon, and Earth, causing an extreme tidal event. Big tides happen when the moon’sellipticalorbitbringsitclosestto the earth while it is also in a full or new phase.Suchgravitationallyinfluenced extreme tides usually happen twice a year. They are called perigean spring tides, or, more colloquially, king tides. Drinkwater,aBerkeley-basedarchitect who is also a board member of the grassroots nonprofit Friends of Five
Jay McGill paddles his kayak down a flooded street near Waldo Point Harbor in Sausalito during a king tide in December 2012.
Creeks, is interested in water and infrastructure.ReflectingonherRadioBeach experience,shesays,“Toseeaplacethat I pass regularly affected like that left a bigimpression.Iusedtojustthinkabout gettingthroughthetollplazaasquickly aspossible,butnowIthinkaboutflooding in a place that is so key to our Bay Area civilization.” When Drinkwater gothomesheuploaded her photos of the inundated Radio Beach to a Flickr site run by the California King Tides Initiative. The project is part of aworldwidenetwork focused on climate change awareness. The roots of the global initiative started on the east Jessica Davenport
coast of Australia in 2009 when a governmentenvironmentalagencyasked residentstotakephotosofthekingtide eventsandsharethemonsocialmedia aspartofapubliceducationcampaign on sea level rise. As it turns out, photographic documentation from regular citizens of the vulnerability of coastal areascanbemuchmorecompellingas a“wake-up call”than dozens of cogent whitepapersorwell-researchedscientific reportsonclimatechange.Ifapictureis worthathousandwords,thenimagine the power of thousands of pictures of actualrisingsealevels — evenif,fornow, thehighwateronlylastsforafewhours or days at a time. The success of the Australia project spurreddiscussionsintheBayAreaconservation community about starting a similar initiative here. Heidi Nutters, currently Coastal Training Program Coordinator at the San Francisco Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, but at the time a fellow at the Bay ConservationandDevelopmentCommission (bcdc), volunteered to help organize the first king tides project in California. “I worked with partners and put this togetherinamonth,”saysNuttersabout the effort in the winter of 2010. “We wantedtoseewhatwouldhappen.The response was overwhelming.” Nuttersattributestheearlysuccessof theprojecttothewideaudienceandits usefulnesstodifferentkindsofenvironmentalorganizationsworkingoncoastal conservation.“Weallhavediverseinter-
projectorganizersarepreparingforthis year’seventsbydevelopingmorestandardizedcitizenscienceprotocols.For thefirsttime,volunteerphotographers willhavealistofspecificplacestodocument.Organizersareselectingthesites based on several critieria, including whereactualclimatemodelingresearchis alreadyhappening.Choosingparticular spots to focus on during high tides will provideaglimpseofthefuture“normal” for those areas, as well as providing
makecompellingcompanionstodense sea level rise data. During the 2011 winter king tides Nutterswasinvitedonaboatridealong the San Francisco waterfront and, despitetheroughconditions,wasable to snap a photo just as the surging Bay waterscrestedtheiconicEmbarcadero. The photo has since been used widely on the cover of sea level rise reports and in the media. King tides for thewinterof2013– 14 are expected to occur at the end of DecemberandJanuary(Dec.30–Jan.2 and Jan. 29–31). After several years of more or less ad hoc efforts, local
visualbaselinedocumentationofhow coastal areas are changing over the long term. Paired with actual scientific research,thephotographsshouldshow how well climate models hold up.“We arestartingtousetheimagestovalidate climate models,”says King Tides Initiative organizer Marina Psaros. “That meansthatthepeopletakingthepictures areworkinginpartnershipwithresearchers,soit’sagoodwaytothinkaboutcitizen science.” Climatechangeeducatorandformer bcdc directorWillTravis compares the workofthecurrentkingtidesphotographerstothatofapreviousgenerationof influentialphotographers.“It’sjustlike theimagesinthe1960sthatshowedwhat the Bay would look like by 2020 with more landfill and reclamation. People saw a future they didn’t want,” Travis says. “The king tides show in a very graphic manner what sea level rise will look like. It’s about the closest thing to a time machine I’ve ever seen.”
(above) King tide flooding at Radio Beach next Mike Filippoff, flickr.com/photos/44312671@N03/
public archive of images. “We’ve built a pretty robust catalog of images and the usefulnesskeepsexpanding,” Nutterssays.Someofthefirst usesofthekingtidesimages, which are all licensed under creative commons laws — meaninganyonecanusethem with proper attribution — werebyclimatechangescientists who found that they to the Bay Bridge toll plaza, Jan. 22, 2012. (right) Man in a wheelchair navigates king tide flooding at Pier 14 on the Embarcadero, Dec. 13, 2012.
ests and different sets of goals,” says Nuttersabouttheadvocacy,policy,planning,regulatory,andeducationalorganizationsthatarehelpingontheinitiative. “But sea level rise is a real rallying point forallofus,andagoodwaytoengagethe publicontheimpactsofclimatechange.” Climateeducationisoftencriticizedfor beingpolitical,alarmist,orspeculative. The regularly occurring king tides are apolitical and very real. Sinceitsbeginningsin2010,theprojecthasgrownsteadilywithaboutadozen organizerswhoeithercarveouttimefrom theirregularjobsorvolunteertheirpersonal time. Besides being an organizational hub locally, the California King TidesInitiativehasbecomeamodelfor other educators and advocates across North America. The core of the project is its growing
Two photos taken at Pier 2 on the Embarcadero in San Francisco show the difference between a normal low tide (March 2, 2012) and an extreme high tide Sergio Ruiz
(Jan. 22, 2012).
CAKingTidesInitiative’simagecatalogisat flickr.com/groups/cakingtides/.Tofindoutmore aboutthisyear’sproject,gotocaliforniakingtides.org.
si gns of t he s e a s o n
Old Man’s Beard: Lichens that Live on Air Northernparulas,prettylittleeasternU.S.warblers,liketomakenestswiththeSpanishmoss thatdrapessoiconicallyfrombigoaksintheSouth.Likemanybirds,sometimesonestraysto California; I’ve seen them near Point Reyes’s Bear Valley Visitor Center. Sometimes two of them stray here, meet, and even nest. They build with what lots of us here call “Spanish moss”— beard lichens and lace lichens, plentiful in moist and oaky spots like Bear Valley.
Frank S. Balthis
The Spanish moss of the Southeast isn’tmossandisn’tparticularlySpanish. It’safloweringplantnomorerelatedto our beard and lace lichens than it is to us. Parulas evidently have a folk taxonomy similar to ours. Lichens of any sort aren’t plants. Lichens are not so much a taxonomic categoryasawayoflife;aslichenologist TrevorGowardputit,“Lichensarefungi that have discovered agriculture.” There are some 13,000 species of fungiinvolvedinthesemutual-benefit associationsbetweenfungiandalgaeor cyanobacteria.Thenon-fungalpartner willbeoneofonly40species — soagiven algalspeciesmayinhabitmorethanone kind of fungus. Nobody in this club is aplant,accordingtocurrenttaxonomy. Ourbeardandlacelichenshaveone thingincommonwiththeSpanishmoss backEast:They’repioneers,practically spacefarers.Theseandafewotherlichens have leapt from the rocks and bark to livein — andliveon — theatmosphere. Our flying lichens don’t parasitize the trees they festoon.They land there as spores or (especially Usnea) as loose bits of their parents and take hold, then spin nets or long branched lines to fish for moisture and nutrients from the air. Around BearValley, as in other similar places, we’re looking at two similar butunrelatedlichengenera:lacelichen (Ramalinamenziesii)andoldman’sbeard (Usneasp.).Ican’tcountontellingthem apart without having them in hand, andittakeschemicaltestingandmicrodissectiontosortoutthevariousUsnea species. If you take a bit of R. menziesii
Beard and lace lichens have a way of makingatreelookancient.There’ssome roughcorrelationbetweentheageofthe tree and the amount of lichen on it, just becauseanoldertreehasbeentherelonger, giving the lichens’flying offspring more chances to land and colonize. As far as we know, beard and lace lichenstakenothingfromtheirhosttrees. They must be a little more particular abouttheirhomebasethaneasternSpanishmossis,becauseyoucanseethelatter flying from utility wires, while these lichensarealmostalwaysbasedintrees. But they colonize trees of many species — oaks, alders, bay laurels, willows, pretty much what’s handy — and don’t sap their hosts’strength the way mistletoe can. Mistletoe has rootlike parts that not only grip a tree but sink into it and take nutrients. Lichens just hang on.They look perfectly happy on a dead tree, as long as the bark they’re clinging to hasn’t fallen off. Meanwhile, back on the branch, weandtheparulawarblersseegraceful, invitingscarvesofbeardlichenswaving at us from stately oaks and we get romantic. Hutton’s vireo, a little gray Frank S. Balthis
by ron sullivan
Lace lichen (Ramalina menziesii) (above) and old man’s beard (Usnea sp.) (right) are both found on oak trees near Forestville in Sonoma County.
in hand and unroll it gently, you’ll find a fishnettystructure,likelace,efficientfor gatheringnutrientsfromfogandambient moisture. Usnea lichens look more like upside-down trees, with a central cord from which other cords branch. Sometrees,aswellasatmospheres,are morewelcomingtolichensthanothers, for reasons of complex chemistry or simpletexture.Youdon’tseemanylichens onbluegumeucalyptusbecauseitsheds bigchunksofbarksofrequentlythatit’s hard for a lichen to get a foothold.
bird who’s native here, is even more wedded to Usnea lichens than that nostalgic warbler is; the bird’s range is defined by the lichens’. Evidently the vireohasdecidedthatbeardlichenisnot justdécororcamouflage,it’sanecessary element for nest building. Kashaya Pomo used lace lichen for baby diapers “and other sanitary purposes.” It’s the California Lichen Society’sfavoredcandidateforStateLichen. Unaccountably,thelegislaturehasnot yet acted on this.
Join the Local Solutions Campaign to protect our redwood forests now
A free outdoor exhibition of eight exuberant sculptures by the internationally acclaimed artist, on view by the bay through May 2014. Learn more at sfmoma.org/onthego
Mark di Suvero at Crissy Field is presented by SFMOMA in partnership with the National Park Service and the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy. Presentation of this exhibition is made possible by extraordinary support from the Fisher family. Premier support is provided by the Mimi and Peter Haas Fund and the Charles Schwab Corporation.
Major support is provided by Agnes Gund in memory of George Gund III, and Robin and Virginia Wright. Mark di Suvero, Are Years What? (for Marianne Moore), 1967; installation view of Mark di Suvero at Crissy Field, May 22, 2013–May 26, 2014; Collection of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Joseph H. Hirshhorn Purchase Fund and Gift of the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, by exchange, 1999; © Mark di Suvero; photo: Ian Reeves
www.sempervirens.org | 650.949.1453 october–december 2013
Sally Rae Kimmel
on the trail
monumental preser vation on the mendocino coast
BY LAND AND BY SEA by Meade Fischer
PointArena,nottheseasidequainttown buttheactuallandformthatjutsintothe Pacific,isdominatedbyitshistoriclighthouse: The rugged rock reefs seem to mergewiththehistoricstructureinsinglepointperspective.It’seasytoimagine the towering light, when operational, reachingouttothesea,warningsailors of danger and linking land and sea with its endless revolutions. Thesedays,withthelighthouse dark,thehumanconnectiontothe seaislessobvious,butunusualnatural links between land and ocean remain:This jutting point of land helps stirupnutrient-richwatersthatfuelthe remarkablebiodiversityfoundoffshore bay nature
atCordellBankandtheFarallonIslands, nottomentionaroundthecountlessseastacksandreefsthatmakethisstretchof coastline so remarkable. The link between dry land and deep water may soon be better recognized thanks to twin efforts to link together 3,300acresofspectacularpublicshoreline and to make that land part of the California Coastal National Monument, a sprawling protected area almost no one’s ever heard of. From scenic Point Arena Cove to Irish Beach, almost 11 miles to the north, all of this coast is now public land, including the just-acquired 409 acresknownasCypressAbbeyPhase2,
whichuntilthisyearremainedinprivate hands and thus split a potentially large protected area in two. In late July 2013, the Trust for Public Land (tpl) completed purchase of Phase 2, so the public now has access totheentirestretch,morethan10miles. “It’saspectacular,terrificrepresentative oftheCaliforniaCoast,andnowthere’s public access from behind city hall,” says Sam Hodder, tpl’s California state director.“It isn’t about today; it’s about peoplemakingmemoriesintothefuture. The view itself is the wow factor. Step outonthecoastalbluff,andittakesyour breath away.”
Even though the California
Coastal National Monument was created by President Bill Clinton in 2000, I had never heard of it when I arrived last
Sally Rae Kimmel
dramatic cliffs of Monterey shale that jut into the Pacific Ocean and form tidepools that harbor great biodiversity, including a purple sea star (right) and a great
blue heron hunting for lunch (below).
fall at the Point Arena City Hall to see thatview,tourtheland,andmeetsome of the people working to protect this coastline. It’snosurprisethatthemonumentis abitobscure:It’stheonlynationalmonumentthat’stotallyoffshore,composed of islands and rocks along California’s 1,100-mile coastline, from Oregon to Mexico.SenatorBarbaraBoxerandRepresentativesMikeThompsonandJared Huffman have proposed legislation to make the public coast around Point Arena the only onshore portion of this little-known national monument. If Congress fails to act, President Obama could make the designation himself. “Most of these bluffs are already public land,” says Ryan Henson of the California Wilderness Coalition, “yet they lack the protection of places like the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Redwood National Park, or the King’s Range Wilderness.” Buttheydeserveasmuchprotection as they can get. As we started the tour, a short walk took us to the bluff behind city hall, highabovethecove,deliveringonHodder’s promise of stunning views of the coast, the pier, and some fishing boats bobbing in the swell. This slice of bluff is Cypress Abbey Phase 1, 123 acres ownedbytheBureauofLandManagement since January 2012.
Continuing north, we came to a gate with a“no trespassing” sign:thejust-acquired409acres ofundevelopedcoastalbluffsand critical habitat of Phase 2, with over a mile of coastline, which forms a central link connecting more than 3,300 acres of permanently protected open space north and south of this parcel. Now the public can walk the entire way up to Manchester State Beachandseewhythisneedstobepublicland.Eventually,itwillbeturnedover to the blm. At the first point, we spotted humpback whales just outside the kelp line, undulatingthroughtheswells.Itwasn’t until months later that I realized I was lookingoutovertwoofCalifornia’snew Marine Protected Areas. Thecoastlineherewasalreadyknown to be rich in birdlife, with black oystercatchers,pigeonguillemots,andeventhe occasionalLaysanalbatrosswingingin from the open ocean. This summer,
scientistsfromtheDavis-basedCalifornia Institute of Environmental Studies announcedthey’ddiscoveredrareashy storm-petrels nesting on rocks off the Mendocino Coast, rocks already protected as part of the California Coastal National Monument. Their discovery was the farthest-north nesting record since 1926. Sothere’smuchtobediscoveredhere, even if you stay on shore. Nearing Sea Lion Rocks, one of the locals diverted our group to a couple of spots near the point where we found two blow holes: Wavesbrokeintounseencavesbelowus, pushingairoutthroughsmallholeswith enough force to blow our hair straight up. We were reminded of the effects of constanterosioninthearea.Infact,abit further we walked by a large sinkhole with a small tunnel to the ocean. One day in the not too distant future, there will be a narrow land bridge that will eventuallycollapse,makingthissinkhole intoanotherofthemanypocketbeaches along the coast. After hiking about three miles, we crossed a small creek and followed it to the edge of the bluff. It ended in a small waterfallthatdisappearedintocracksin thecoastalrock.Waterfallsalsopoured off the rugged and impressive reefs below us. Thewaterfalls,alongwiththeflatterraceonwhichwewalked,aretestament tothisarea’sremarkablegeology,which is why Tom Williams, a geologist who
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The lighthouse at Point Arena sits atop
Fishing from the cliffs of the Stornetta Public Lands north of the town of Point Arena. Kathryn Barnhart
periods, like today.” Duringglacial periods,sealevel drops, and subsequenttectonic forces lift the benches, which become flat, dry terraces. If this happensmultiple
Sally Rae Kimmel
times,youcangetstaircasesofmultiple terraces(asatJugHandleStateNatural Reserve, 40 miles to the north) that speakofhugesea-levelfluctuationsand tectonicmovements.Andthere’splenty oftectonicmovementgoingonhere,as the queen of our California faults, the SanAndreas,leaveslandforthelasttime just north of Point Arena (the actual geologic point, not the town) at ManchesterStateBeachanddisappearsinto theoceanonitswaytothegeologically hyperactive Triple Junction 200 miles to the north. But even the single terrace at Point Arena creates plenty of drama. It was eroded by waves at sea level about 100,000 years ago, says Bay Area geologist John Karachewski, and uplifted to its present elevation by continued and active mountain building along the California coast.“The sedimentary layers exhibit different hardness,” he explains, “which the waves exploit to erode the land into these scenic and beautiful headlands, coves, and sea caves.” When he visits, Williams likes to take his field trip participants back and forth across the San Andreas Fault as they travel from Fort Ross up to the town of Mendocino. On the west side, the rocks of the Gualala Block have movedapproximately300milesnorth along the San Andreas and are significantlydifferentfromFranciscanAssemblage rocks east of the fault.“It’s a fascinatingarea,especiallyrighttherearound Point Arena. Compression along the faulthasfoldedandfaultedtheGualala Block rocks,” he says. “This folding is kind of like two people pushing opposite edges of a rug together.”
to Fort Bragg
Stornetta Public Lands (BLM) Recent Additions
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Manchester Beach KOA Rd.
Point of Interest
Lake Davis Wetlands & Coastal Dunes Natural Preserve
Manchester State Park
California Coastal National Monument intertidal lands (BLM)
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Brush Creek/Lagoon Lake Wetlands & Coastal Dunes Natural Preserve
Lighthouse Mountain View
Sea Lion Rocks
Proposed Phase 3 Acquisitions (Private)
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works by day for the North Coast RegionalWater Quality Control Board, alwaysmakesseveralstopshereonthe three-day Mendocino Coast field trips heleadsthroughhiscompanyWilliams GeoAdventures. “One of the things that’s really distinctive about the Mendocino Coast is the series of uplifted marine terraces there,”hesays.“Yougetthesewave-cut benchesthatarecreatedathighsea-level
Point Arena eek Po i n t Aren a Cr
1 Kilometer to Gualala
Ben Pease, peasepress.com
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(left) Harbor seals hauled out on the rocks south of the Point Arena lighthouse. (right) These rock reefs just offshore of the Stornetta Public Lands along the rugged coast south of the lighthouse are part of the little-known California Coastal National Monument.
With the fish-bearing Garcia River
meeting the Pacific just north of Point Arena, the great diversity of life here includescohoandchinooksalmonand steelhead.Thereisevenaresidentalbatross, nicknamed“Al”by the locals, that hangsoutwiththegullsinthecovefrom NovemberthroughMarch.Threefederallyprotectedspeciesresideontheland sidehereaswell:PointArenamountain beaver(arareburrowingrodentnative onlytothisarea)andBehren’ssilverspot butterfly,bothendangered,andthreatened California red-legged frogs. “This is an amazing opportunity, right in our own front yard,”says Marita Watley, a manager at the lighthouse. “People can hike, bird watch, and take photographsinaplacethatis[accessible], yet still wild. It’s a great destination for visitors, locals, and children’s groups.” Point Arena City Manager Hunter Alexanderhasbeenworkingtowardboth
acquiring Cypress Abbey Phase 2 and securingNationalMonumentstatusfor thewholearea.Shedid,however,caution thatthereweresomeissuesthatneedto beaddressed:signage,parking,restrooms, and other visitor facilities. At the moment, the park has a very small-townfeel:There’snosignindicating the trailhead behind city hall, and people come in to ask directions and usetherestroom(therearenoneonthe trail). Alexander drops what she’s doing to help them, hand them a brochure, and point them to the trailhead. “Helping themisfinewithmewhen we’re open,” Alexander said,“butwe’renotalways open.”Alexandersaidshe has already put an informational kiosk and some literature inside city hall for the visitors who come in looking for the trail. Leslie Dahlhoff, who servedtenyearsasmayor of Point Arena and has continued to champion local public lands, looks forwardtoevenmoreprotectionsoffshore:Shesays theCordellBankNational Marine Sanctuary is consideringextendingtoAlder Creek at the north end of Dramatic seaside cliffs just south of
Frank S. Balthis
the town of Point Arena.
ManchesterStateBeach,whichjusthappenstobewheretheSanAndreasFault goesouttosea,dividingourtwocrustal plates. It does seem like everything is coming together in Point Arena. Getting there:
The town of Point Arena is located on Highway1,about15milesnorthofGualala and about 25 miles south of Highway128inMendocinoCounty.Highway 1 makes a left at the north end of town, becoming School Street. The city hall is about two blocks up on the left. The trailstartsatthebackoftheparkinglot. A second access point is off of Lighthouse Road to the north of town. Where the road reaches the bluffs, there’s a sign on the left and a stile. Anotheraccesspointisatrailheadat the end of Stoneboro Road, about two miles south of Manchester. From there it’sahalf-milewalktothebeachoverthe rolling dunes. Miles to the north, Irish Beachwouldbethenorthernmostaccess to this stretch of coast. You can also camp at Manchester State Beach, which makes an excellent base for exploring the area. Or learn aboutTomWilliams’sgeologyfieldtrips at geology-adventures.com. MeadeFisherisanoutdooradventureandtravel writerspecializinginthewestcoast.Hewrites regularlyonhikingandkayakingandisthecurrent presidentofOutdoorWritersAssociationofCalifornia. HislatestbookisWiththeSeaBesideMe:An intimate guide to California’s central and north coast.
elsewhere . . . south bay
Don Edwards S.F. Bay Wildlife Refuge at Alviso
It’seasytoimaginethebayshorebefore development when you’re hiking this refuge’s trails at the southern reach of SanFranciscoBay.Thevastexpansesof marsh,pond,andskyshrinkthedistant built environment to near-invisibility, and the natural world looms large. Here, miles of flat, breezy trails cap old levees that until recently carved thousands of acres of tidal marsh into isolatedsaltevaporationponds.Those ponds are now being restored to once againreceivethetides,andthetrailsprovide great views and opportunities to comparethevarioushabitats:freshwater slough,tidalsaltmarsh,mudflat,pond. Excursionsherecanberewardingin 30 minutes or expand to an entire day. New Chicago Marsh Trail is a half-mile boardwalkloopthatcrossesarecovering wetland.Five-mileMallardSloughTrail circles a newly-restored pond, and a shortspurleadstoviewsofDrawbridge, a ghost town of dilapidated wooden buildings.Thelongestroute,theAlviso Slough Trail, loops out into the former salt ponds for more than ten miles. All of the refuge’s trails offer some of the Bay’sbestbirding:Multitudesofmigratoryandresidentbirdsnest,rest,orlive permanently at the refuge. Good to know: One leg of the MallardSloughTrailclosesduringhunting season(October–January),andtheleveetop trails can be muddy after rains. Getting there: From i-880 or us-101, exitonHighway237towardAlviso.Turn north onto Zanker Road which turns into Los Esteros Road, then sharp right ontoGrandBlvdtotheend.[SueRosenthal]
© 2009 Britta Heise
The fabled“there”in Oakland — one of them,anyway — canbefoundjustnorth of the airport, close by the Nimitz freeway.Thisgreencornersalvagedfromthe city’s industrial underbelly may be the bestplaceintheEastBaytoseesuccessfulwetlandrestoration.Andyoucanget to it on the bus! At first, MLK Jr. Shoreline seems to be just a nice city park until you explore itspavedpathslinkingaclusterofactive wetlands on San Leandro Bay. In the largest,ArrowheadMarsh,endangered clapperrailsareoftenheardandsometimes seen. Look along the access road for burrowing owls guarding their ground-squirrel-hole nests. Evenifyoudon’tseeanyendangered species, you’ll meet plenty of wildlife. Batrayspatroltheshallowsathightide, and ducks of many kinds bob on the water.Brownpelicansflaplowanddive. As the tide recedes, assorted wading birds forage in easy view. Sadly,thisparkisaposterchildforthe campaigntobanplasticbags,whichseem to float in on every tide, gettingtangledinthepickleweed and collecting at the hightidemarkuntilvaliantvolunteers turn out to haul them away.Helpingwithcleanups is one way to care for the wild creatures you see here. Gettingthere:Call511for busschedules,ortakeHegenberger Rd west from Interstate 880; go right on Doolittle Drive, right again on SwanWay, then left into the park. Plentifulfacilities;nofees;leasheddogsand bikes okay. [Ann Sieck]
Lower Tubbs Island Loop Trail
ThistidalmarshwhereTolayCreekfinds San Pablo Bay is a lovely reminder of whatmusthavebeenouthere200years ago,wheretodaywhite-tailedkiteshover above, curlews probe the mud, and rarely-seen but often-heard black rails call from the pickleweed.Wildflowers, butterflies,anddragonfliesarealsoseen there,plusmaybejackrabbitsandlizards. Lower Tubbs Island is becoming a fine habitatsinceitsleveeswereintentionally breachedin2009.Thoughthetraillooping around it is impassable at present, proceeding clockwise, hikers can still walk about two miles on the levee. But add the out-and-back schlep from the highway,muchofitalongtheovergrown drainageditchesofadjacenthayfields, andthetotalisalmosttenmiles,soconsider making the trip on a sturdy bike. Timing is important. After even a lightrain,wheelsandbootsareguaranteed to gather globs of thick, nutrientrich sediment. Revving engines from frequentdragracesheldatnearbySears Point may obscure birdcalls, and in the three-monthhuntingseason thatstartsOctober20buckshot sounds also intrude. Check tide tables too, since wadingbirdscomeoutasthe waterrecedestocollectwhatevertastymorselsareonoffer. 1 Getallthatright,andenjoya birdparadisethatfeelsalmost all your own! Getting there: Parking lot is south off of Highway 37 (eastbound only), just east of Highway 121. No fees or toilets; dogs not permitted except for hunting. [Ann Sieck]
d i s c o v e r m a n y m o r e t r a i l s a t b a y n a t u r e . o r g /t r a i l f i n d e r bay nature
C ERSITY o f
Spike your interest | Visit the Garden UC Botanical Garden
510-643-2755 | http://botanicalgarden.berkeley.edu 200 Centennial Drive, Berkeley, CA 94720-5045
Daily | 9 am - 5 pm
No admission after 4:30 pm
Garden Shop & Plant Deck Open Daily until 4:30 pm
Cheirolophus sp. | Photo by Melanie Hofmann
LEARN RAPTOR IDENTIFICATION! Visit Hawk Hill this Fall!
Best viewing: fog-free days 10am-2pm Docent Programs: noon on October weekends Learn Raptors! See Banded Hawks Up-Close! Details: (415) 331-0730 or www.ggro.org The Golden Gate Raptor Observatory is a program of the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy in cooperation with the National Park Service.
Tomales Bay Resort
35 Rooms Recently Renovated Economical or Deluxe Rooms Available Fireplaces Kitchenettes TV Kayaking Conference Room Restaurant (under renovation) 12938 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., Inverness (415) 669-1389 www.tomalesbayresort.com october窶電ecember 2013
h abi tats o f
th e East Bay R egiona l Par ks This story is part of a series exploring significant natural habitats and resources of the East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD), many of which are encountered in other parts of the Bay Area as well. The series is sponsored by EBRPD, which manages 65 parks, reserves, and trails covering more than 100,000 acres in Alameda and Contra Costa counties (ebparks.org).
by Glen Martin
rom Perch to
The Freshwater Fish That Didn’t Get Away TheywhileawaythehoursinanondescriptbuildingontheAlamedashore,waitingfortheir chancetowowthecrowds.Notthattheyspendmuchtimethinkingaboutfameandglory. They are, after all, fish, and like most fish they are preoccupied with finding food, seeking secure environs, and, at certain junctures, mating. But the fish the East Bay Regional Park District (ebrpd) keeps in an array of tanks and aquariumsatCrownMemorialStateBeachareanythingbutaverage.Foronething,they’re membersofadwindlingcomplexoffreshwaterfishspeciesthatoncethrivedintherivers and lakes of the greater Bay Area, including those of the East Bay. Joshua Porter, EBRPD
(left) Thanks to the Park District’s mobile fish exhibit, students at Monroe Elementary School in San Leandro get to learn about native freshwater fish that were once plentiful in East Bay streams and ponds, such as Jewel Lake in Tilden Regional Park (above right). Steelhead trout and its landlocked variant, the rainbow trout (right), were once common in East Bay creeks.
Daniel Parks, flickr.com/parksdh
Foranother,theseSacramentoperch,tuleperch,hitch,rainbowtrout,Sacramentoblackfish,Sacramentopikeminnows, Sacramento suckers, and California roach are members of a performingtroupe.They’reregularlytransferredtoalargetank mountedonacustom-builttrailerandtransportedtoschools and events around the East Bay, where they serve as a living displayoftheregion’sbeleagueredfreshwaterecosystems — and enthrall people in the process. “We log long days when we take the fish out,”says ebrpd resourceanalystJoshuaPorter,whoisinchargeofthemobile fish exhibit, as it’s officially known.“I’m here at 5 a.m. and may not be finished before 6 p.m. But it’s worthit — everyonelovesit,especially the kids. It’s a fantastic educational tool.” To a very real degree, the traveling exhibitisaportaltothepast:Manyofthesenative fishnolongerdominatelocalwaters.Habitatdegradationhas winnowedtheirnumbers,andawidevarietyofintroducedfish has displaced them. Buttheexhibitismorethannostalgia.Ournativefishmaybe down,butthey’renotout,they’rehangingoninecosystemsthey onceruled.Andbiologistsandenvironmentaladvocatesalikeare
workingtomakethingsbetter.Thefishhaveadvocates,andthe exhibitisatoolforthatadvocacy,ameansofengagingthepublic at large.
The status of the East Bay’s native fish varies by species,
ofcourse.Somehavebeenwhollyeliminatedfromtheregion — most notably coho salmon, thick-tailed chub, and tidewater gobies. “Coho are no longer found in (Delta/Bay) estuary streams,” says Robert Leidy, a u.s. epa ecologist and authority on freshwater and anadromous fish. (Anadromous fish,likesalmon,areborninfreshwater but mature in the ocean.)“The thicktailed chub is extinct. It used to be the most abundant fish in the Sacramento/SanJoaquindrainages,butI think the last one was collected in the 1950s.Andtidewatergobiesareabsentlocallybecauseofexotic gobies, most of which came in on ballast water released from oceangoing ships.The tidewater goby simply can’t compete with these invasive gobies.” These declines — and in the case of the chub, outright extinction — are sobering. So is the status of other highly
Melisa Beveridge, naturalhistoryillustration.com
(left) Alameda Creek, shown here in flood near Little Yosemite in Sunol Regional Wilderness. The largest stream in the East Bay, Alameda Creek provides habitat for many native fish, including some of those pictured below. (below from bottom left) California roach; prickly sculpin; Sacramento sucker; California hitch; three-spined stickleback; Sacramento pikeminnow. (Drawings by John Muir Laws)
endangeredspeciesthatcouldultimatelygothewayofthechub, suchasthedeltasmeltandtheSacramentosplittail.Butthere’s littledoubtthatthesituationwouldbemuchworsewithoutthe EastBayRegionalParkDistrictholdingsandprotectedwatershed lands owned by the East Bay Municipal Utilities District (ebmud) and the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (sfpuc), along with tireless advocacy from local grassroots groups like the Alameda Creek Alliance and many “Friends of” groups attached to creeks all over the region. The park district protects vast areas of open space, wildlife habitat, and critical watersheds in Alameda and ContraCostacounties.Thankslargelytovoter-approvedbond funds,landacquisitionsareongoing.Since2008,observesebrpd fisheriesprogrammanagerPeteAlexander,thedistrictexpanded itsholdingsfrom98,000acresto115,000acres.Providingadditional habitat protection, the sfpuc controls 36,000 acres of watershed lands in Alameda and Santa Clara counties, while ebmud controls about 27,000 acres in Alameda and Contra Costa counties. “We’restillheavilycommittedtopurchasinglandwithsuitablehabitat,andmuchofthateffortisfocusedonhabitatbenefiting native fish and amphibians,”says Alexander.“It’s one of the things we can do that makes a real difference.” Forsomefish,itmakesallthedifference.The Sacramentoperchfallsintothiscategory.OriginallydistributedthroughouttheSacramento/ SanJoaquinDelta,PajaroCreek,andtheSalinas River, these fish are largely absent from their native range. But they were introduced in a scattering of ponds and lakes throughout the West — including small lakes and stock ponds on ebrpd lands,whichnowharbor populations crucial to the species’ future. Jewel Lake in Tilden bay nature
RegionalParkinthehillsabove Berkeley is one such perch redoubt.Awoodland-shrouded, one-acre pond created by a small dam on Wildcat Creek, it is a favorite destination for Tilden day-trippers. Though it seems an unlikely spot for rare species,itisprimeSacramentoperchhabitat:shallow,slightly turbidwaterwithplentyofsubmergedvegetationwherethefish can hide, breed, and lurk in ambush for prey. Park biologists are particularly protective of Jewel Lake’s perchbecausethefisharegeneticallyrich,makingthemdistinct fromotherpopulations,andareconsideredacriticalstockfor reintroduction efforts. But Jewel Lake’s suitability for Sacramento perch makes it equallyattractivetootherwildlife.Therearered-leggedfrogs nearby,nativeandexoticturtles,andavarietyofducks,butalso greatblueheronsthatregularlystalktheshallows,riverotters that venture in from Wildcat Creek to forage (including for perch), and other fish that compete with the perch for space and food. Despite those challenges, UC Davis fisheriesbiologistPeter Moyle says ponds such as Jewel Lake are the perch’s best chances for survival.“Sacramentoperchjustcan’tcompetewithintroducedspecies — mainly eastern sunfish such as red-eared sunfish,”says Moyle.“They aren’tasaggressive,andtheydon’tguardtheirnests,sotheyoung areeasilypredated.Buttheydoreproducevery readily in ponds where they don’t have too much competition.”
While scattered ponds and lakes are the last strongholds for Sacramento perch, the East Bay’s creeks serve as primary habitat for most of the region’sothernativefreshwaterfishspecies.Ofthese,Alameda Creek is by far the most significant. Indeed, Alameda Creek might be more properly termed a river: It runs 45 miles from theslopesnortheastofMountHamiltonthroughNilesCanyon toSanFranciscoBay,drainingapproximately700squaremiles of uplands.
Another Alameda Creek native, the Sacramentoblackfish,shouldbefamiliartoanyonewhohasvisited BayAreaAsianfishmarkets.They’relargelyfilterfeeders,using theirgillrakerstocapturealgaeandplankton.Astaplefishfor CaliforniaIndianspriortoEuro-Americancontact,Sacramento blackfisharealsohighlyvaluedintheChinesecommunityand are typically sold from live tanks. Backinthewild,especiallyintheupperreachesofAlameda Creekanditstributaries,watchforCaliforniaroach,toughlittle fish(fourincheslongatmost)thatcanwithstandhighalkalinity,warmwater,andevenmoderatesewage contamination. When flows are low in East Bay streams, pools in the upper watershedsoftenteemwithCalifornia roach;theycanthrivewheremostother species,nativeorinvasive,succumb.“Youfindtheminmostof the headwater streams in the Diablo Range,” says Leidy. Lurkingbeneaththeroach,pikeminnows,andblackfish — and perhapsgettingbyontheirleftovers — theSacramentosuckeris anothersurvivor,abottomfeederthatsubsistsondetritus,algae, andsmallinvertebrates.Sacramentosuckersoftencongregatein schools,theirflanksflashingadullgold-bronzeastheymaneuver for feeding space.They are found throughout most of the AlamedaCreeksystem,fromtheupperreservoirstothelower channelized reaches.
But if there is one fish that is emblematic of Alameda
Creek,itisthesteelhead:thebig,anadromousrainbowtroutof theWest Coast.They were once common in all the streams of theEastBay,buttheirnumbershavecrashedandtheyarenow federallylistedasthreatened.AlamedaCreek,however,stillhasa residualsteelheadrun,andthepopulationisexpectedtoincrease when a project to remove fish barriers along the lower river — including the bart weir, a bank-to-bankconcreteapron thatbuttressespierssupporting the train tracks — is completed. “Once that’s accomplished, several miles of spawning habitat will once
AlamedaCreekfiguredintoCalifornia’sdevelopmentfrom thebeginningofSpanishsettlement.PartoftheoriginalVallejo landgrant,itswatershedwassoonsettledandsubjecttointensive agriculture.The Central Pacific Railroad pushed through Niles Canyon in 1869, and the pressures on the creek and its ecosystems have hardly relented in subsequent decades. Today,thecreek’slowerreacheshavebeenchannelizedfor floodcontrol,andriparianwoodlandshavegreatlydiminished alongthemainstem.Threereservoirsblockwatercoursesinits upperwatershed,andwaterqualityingeneralhasdeclineddue to sedimentation and agricultural and urban runoff. But many native fish have managed to hang on — andeven,inamodestfashion,thrive — inAlamedaCreek.Foremostamongthem are prickly sculpins and California roach. Not surprisingly, flexibility has proven a boon for these two fish. AnothernativefishfounddominantinseveralEastBaycreeks isthethree-spinedstickleback.Barelythreeincheslong,thislittle fishisoftenusedinfishbehaviorstudies.“Three-spinedsticklebacks can live in salt water or fresh water, and every degree of brackish water in between,”observes Leidy.“They maintain separatepopulationsinthedifferentreachesofanydrainage they inhabit. They also build nests, which they aggressivelydefend.Those are strategies that have served them very well.” ThehistoricalmastersofCalifornia’sinlandwaterwayswere the Cyprinidae, members of the minnow family. They had a diverseandabundantrepresentationintheBayArea,including AlamedaCreek.Somehavesuccumbedtohumanimpacts(the thick-tailedchub,forexample),butothershavemetthechallengesofthemodernworld,overcomingeverythingfromsubpar habitat to invasive competitors. AmongthisnumberistheSacramentopikeminnow,formerly knownbythepejorativetermofsquawfish.Theseslender,silvery fishcansometimesapproachtwofeetinlength.Thoughtheyfavor slow,clearstreamswithdeeppools,theyhaveprovedfairlytolerantofdisturbedhabitat.EastBaystreamsaregenerallyagreeable tothem,particularlythosethatcansupportsummerreleasesof coolwaterfromupstreamreservoirs,suchasAlamedaCreek. Butperhapstheirgreatestassetistheiraggressiveattitude, wellknowntoanysmallmouthbassanglerwhohastriedunsuccessfully to get a lure past a school of pikeminnows. They eat fish, amphibians, crayfish — even small rodents. “Before striped bass and black bass showed up, they were thetop(fish)predatorinCalifornia’sstreams,”saysAlexander. “They’vebeensonumerousattimesthatthey’veaffectedother native fish: They’re very good at picking off salmon smolts duringtheirdownstreammigrations,forexample.Sometimes, particularlyintheColumbiaRiversystem,bountieshavebeen placedonpikeminnows.Allinall,they’restilldoingprettywell regionally.”
A great heron spears a sculpin (above) while a river otter grabs a snack of Sacramento perch at Jewel Lake (right). James Scarff
Pete Alexander, EBRPD
againbeavailabletoanadromousfish,andwecanrestockasnecIt’s not that mosquito fish are deficient at their task, Miller essary with our native rainbows,” Leidy says. says.They do a fine job of gobbling mosquito larvae, and they Happily,nativeEastBayrainbowtrout — non-anadromous arefecundintheextreme.Plantsomemosquitofishinapond variants of the steelhead — are still relatively common, but orslough;they’llreproducewithgreatrapidity,andmosquitoes nolesspreciousfortheirabundance.Alexanderdeemsthem willdeclineproportionately.Theproblemisthatthey’lleatmore “genetictreasures.”“Peopleoriginallylearnedaboutrainbow than mosquito larvae and eggs. They’ll also chow down on endangered red-legged frog and tiger salamander eggs. trout from our East Bay trout,” Alexander says. “We have evi“That has raised some concerns, so we’re looking at native dencethattheywerefirstgiventhename‘rainbow’basedonfish fish as alternatives,”Miller says.“I doubt we’ll ever move comtaken from an East Bay creek (San Leandro) and described in pletelyawayfrommosquitofish,buthavingsomeoptionscould 1855.Notlongafter,rainbowtroutweretransportedtotemperate regions throughout the world.” help with native fish restoration.” MillerfirsttriedSacramentoperchasamosquitofishsubstiDams have contributed to the decline of the East Bay’s steelhead — butparadoxically, tute, but that proved a no go. thereservoirstheseimpediments “They were hard to raise,” he have created have aided in the observes. Today, he’s experimentingwithSacramentoblackpreservationofnativerainbows: Instead of migrating to the fish,Californiaroach,andhitch, oceanfromtheirnatalstreams, anotherheat-tolerantCalifornia native. He’s rearing the fish in rainbows migrate to the reservoirs that back up behind the morethan20swimmingpools, dams.Theretheyfatten,returnsome located on foreclosed properties. That achieves the ing to the creeks that enter the reservoirs to spawn. dual purpose of eliminating mosquitoesfromwatersources San Antonio Reservoir, a that would otherwise teem few miles southeast of Sunol Regional Wilderness, is espewith larvae and contributing ciallyfinerainbowhabitat.Built to research in native fish in 1964 by the City of San Franpropagation. Biologists from the East Bay Regional Park District conducting a wildlife survey at So how’s it going?“The Saccisco,itstorescold,clean,highly Sindicich Lagoon in Briones Regional Park. ramentoblackfisharefairlyeasy oxygenated Sierra water from tospawnandraise,sowehavesomehopesforthem,”Millersays. theHetchHetchyaqueduct.LikeotherEastBayreservoirsthat containnativerainbows — CalaverasandUpperSanLeandro “We collected some hitch under a Department of Fish and reservoirs — SanAntonioisclosedtoangling.Therolling,oakWildlife permit two years ago, we’ve raised them to maturity, studdeduplandsthatsurroundthereservoirarewellvegetated; and we’re trying to get them to spawn.We’ve seen spawning erosionisminimal,andthelakedoesn’tsufferthesedimentation activityandafewlarvae,sowe’regettingclose.Andwe’repretty problemsthatblighttroutpopulationselsewhere.“SanAntonio optimisticabouttheCaliforniaroach.Mosquitofishtypically essentially serves as the ocean for these fish,”Leidy says,“and [stop eating] at lower temperatures, but California roach just they’ve adapted well.” keep on eating. We think that could make them valuable for Whilethefisharegeneticallysimilartotheirancestorsthat late season abatement — say, at duck clubs in the fall.” Miller’sworkpointstothekindofflexibilityandinnovative went to sea, they differ from steelhead in one significant way: thinking needed to maintain the East Bay’s rich complex of size. In the ocean, steelhead graze for years on rich shoals of nativefreshwaterfish.Inlightofthechallenges — everything krillandforagefish.Returningsteelheadspawnerscanoccasionfromongoingurbandevelopmenttoclimatechange — itwon’t allyreachweightsof20poundsormore.“Amature,nativerainbeaneasymission.Butthereareopportunities,saysMoyle,and bowtroutbycomparisonprettymuchtopsoutatthreetofour it’s incumbent on both scientists and citizens to seize them. pounds,”saysAlexander.“Butforalandlockedrainbow,that’sa very respectable fish.” “The big thing we have going for us are the East Bay parks andtheutilitydistrictlands,”saysMoyle.“They’regivingusthe Given the ongoing challenges faced by the East Bay’s abilitytopreserveandevenenhancemanyofthesefishpopulanative fish, biologists are always looking for opportunities to tions—andthey’realsogivingusthechancetoshowthepublic thatthesefishexist,thatthey’resomethingworthsaving.” stabilize existing populations and establish new ones. At the Contra Costa Mosquito Abatement District, biologist Chris GlenMartin,formerenvironmentalreporterfortheSanFranciscoChronicle, Miller is testing native fish as substitutes for exotic mosquito writesonnaturalresourceissuesforvariouspublications.Hislatestbook,Game fish,currentlythepreferredmeansforcontrollingmosquitoes Changer:AnimalRightsandtheFateofAfrica’sWildlife,waspublished in California. by UC Press in March 2012. bay nature
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he condor launches from a rocky outcropping in the Santa Lucia MountainsnearBigSurinMontereyCounty.TothewestliesthePacific Ocean, a rich source of food for the bird when a dead seal or whale washesashore.TotheeastliestheSalinasValley,anareawhereranching andfarmingoperationscanprovidethescavengingcondorwith the occasional dead lamb or steer.The condor keeps gliding, herten-footwingspancastingfringedshadowsoverwide-open countrythat’shometoendangeredSanJoaquinkitfoxesand giant kangaroo rats that hide by day in dens and burrows and blunt-nosedleopardlizardsthatbaskinthesun.Thecondoris headed for Pinnacles National Park, or perhaps the Joaquin Rocks, two favorite roosts that involve a 100-mile journey, an easystretchoverthecourseofafewhoursforthismassivebird. NearHighway101,about20milesnorthofPasoRobles,the condorcrossestheSanArdooilfields,whereflaresilluminate theskyatnight.Theseoilfieldshavebeeninoperationformore than60years,butmorerecently-developedmethodssuchasfracking(shortfor“hydraulicfracturing”)andhorizontalanddirectional drilling are promising to create a new boom due to the prodigiousquantitiesofoiltrappedintheshalelayersofawidespreadgeologicalstructureknownastheMontereyFormation. Outcroppingsofthis1,750-square-mileformationarevisible as far north as Grizzly Peak in the Berkeley Hills and Kehoe Beach at Point Reyes. But the drilling action will be concentrated to the south, from Monterey and San Benito counties south to Kern and Ventura counties, in areas that mirror the condor’shistoricrangeandrepresentsomeofthelastfragments of undeveloped habitat for condors, kit foxes, kangaroo rats, and leopard lizards. Geologistsestimatethatthisregioncontainsasmuchas15.4
The current oil boom in California is being driven by new technologies that make it possible to extract oil trapped in shale layers (note the dark stains in the sample below) of the Monterey Formation, which runs under the arid hills and valleys of Central California (such as Mustang Ridge, above, south of the Pinnacles), home range for the endangered California condor (above left).
f r a c k i n g
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by Sarah Phelan
ing the Secrets of the Monterey Shale
© David J. Gubernick, rainbowspirit.com
billion barrels of oil, which would make it the nation’s largest domestic source of recoverable oil. Oil industry proponents claim that increased fracking to recover this oil would bring thousandsofjobsandbillionsintaxrevenuestothestate.Moreover, they claim, fracking has already been used safely in Californiafordecades.Environmentalistsexpressadifferentview, pointingtopotentialthreatstogroundwater,sensitivespecies, andtheintegrityofthegrounditself.However,effortstopassa moratoriumonfracking — orevenahiatuswhiletheprocessis studiedfurther — havesofarbeenstalledinthestatelegislature. OfficialswiththefederalBureauofLandManagement(blm), whichoverseesavastamountofpubliclyownedlandinCalifornia,don’tforeseeanoildevelopmentexplosiononpreviously untappedlandsanytimesoon.Butthepressuretoexploitthese
resourcesisn’tgoingawayanytimesooneither,noristhedebate over the wisdom of doing so. As we weigh the pros and cons, a missing piece of the conversation is the land itself: What is theMontereyFormation?Whatisitmadeofandhowdiditget here?Andwhatkindofhabitats,plants,andanimalsliveatopit?
Monterey Shale in Berkeley?
Geologist Mel Erskine parks his car on Grizzly Peak Boulevard in the Berkeley Hills and grabs a small metal pick from his trunk.TheroadoffersdramaticviewsofSanFranciscoBay,but Erskine turns his back on the vista to focus on a lowly rock outcroppingontheoppositesideoftheroad.“ ThisistheMonterey shale,”Erskinesays,pointingatayellowish-orangeoutcropping that is marked by rows of vertical fractures. october–december 2013
Howard Brainen, twocatdigital.com
Emily Underwood, underwoodillustration.com
Theshale,which is the oil-bearing component of the Monterey Formation, is very brittle, which is one of the reasons it can be fracked, Erskine explains,breaking off a small chunk with his pick. A thin dark seam of oil glistens, then fades,likejellyinapeanut-butter-and-jellysandwich.“Thisis whatwearetryingtogettothroughhydraulicfracturing,”says Erskine,indicatingthethindarkseam,whichiswherehighpressureandtemperaturehaveconvertedmicroscopicmarineorganisms into oil over millions of years. Could this ridge in Berkeley get fracked one day, when oil getsscarceenough?Erskineshakeshisheadandlooksfromthe outcropping to the cliff edge, the steep drop, and the breathtaking views of the Bay.The search, he says, is for areas where the Monterey shale is nearly horizontal and less structurally deformed.“Frackingcanhandlesomedips,”Erskinesays.“But basicallythey’regoinghorizontallybecausetheywanttoinject uniformpressureoveralargearea.Inasteepdiplikethisthere is no way to control the fractures.” Erskine rolls out a geologic map of California that depicts the Monterey Formationextendingbeneathcentral and coastal California and out into the Santa Barbara Channel. “It’s a formation that accumulated in deep structuralbasinsduringtheMiocene period,”he explains.“It’s very young.” Thefine-grainedsedimentsthateroded off the land into the ocean to form the shaleweredepositedinseveraloffshore marinebasinsoverseveralmillionyears, between 13 and 6 million years ago. Overthatsameperiod,deadmicroscopic marine plankton, both plants (diatoms) and animals (especiallyradiolaria),raineddownontotheseafloor,thengot coveredandburiedbyyoungersedimentsandwereverygraduallyalteredintohydrocarbonsembeddedintheshalematrix. Compared to North Dakota’s Bakken Formation or the Northeast’s Marcellus, the Monterey Formation is younger, with more internal folding, and it’s in earthquake country. “All those black lines on the map are fault zones, so it’s very complex,” Erskine says. You might think, with all that natural fracturing, fracking mightnotevenbenecessary.Notso.Erskineexplainsthatthe Montereyshaleislikeacontinuallyflowingsubterraneancreature,activeanddynamic,sonewfractureshealquicklyastectonic bay nature
forces push and pull the rock. Fracking injects large volumes of water and a mix of sand and chemicals into the fractures in ordertokeepthemopen.Afterthewater-chemicalmixtureis pumped out, the oil liberated from the fractured rock flows into the well.
Who Lives Here?
Of course, the impacts of fracking don’t just occur underground.ThesurfaceabovetheMontereyFormationishometo an array of wildlife and plants that may or may not take well tothescatteringofwells,roads,wastewatertrucks,andother equipment that accompany an oil boom. The blunt-nosed leopard lizard, the San Joaquin kit fox, thegiantkangaroorat,theCaliforniacondor,andSanJoaquin woollythreadsareamongtherare,threatened,andendangered speciesthattheblmlisted in the environmental assessmentsitprepared fortheleasesauctioned for oil exploration in 2012. It isn’t easy to find a blunt-nosedleopardlizard, unless you visit senior researcherTheodore Papenfuss at UC
Will the remote wildness of places like the Panoche Valley (above), home to the endangered San Joaquin kit fox, soon come to resemble the industrial oil fields of San Ardo along the Salinas River and Highway 101 (left)?
Berkeley’sMuseumofVertebrateZoology.Forthepast15years, PapenfusshasstudiedthelizardsinKernCounty,nearTaftand Maricopa,thesiteofoilwelldevelopmentsincethelate1800s. As Papenfuss leads me by a stuffed condor and the shell of agianttortoise,heexplainsthatevenifleopardlizardsareona pieceofland,youmightbenearthembutneverseethem,since theyhideoutinburrowsduringtheheatoftheday.“Theyhave averydefiniteterritory,sotheycan’tjustscampersomewhere else,”hesays.“Andthere’sabalancewithkangaroorats,too,since blunt-nosedleopardlizardsliveintheirabandonedburrows.” He leads me into a vault that contains thousands of jars full ofpreservedlizards.“Theblunt-nosedleopardlizardisnotonly federallyendangeredbutalsofullyprotected[byCalifornia],”
Emily Underwood, underwoodillustration.com
© David J. Gubernick, rainbowspirit.com
saysPapenfuss,retrievingajarofthelizards,whicharesandyin colorandspotted.ItwasthefastpaceofdevelopmentandconsequentlossofhabitatfollowingtheconstructionofInterstate5 thatledtotheirendangeredstatus.“Wheni-5opened,youcould drivelongdistancesandseesemi-aridshrubland,”Papenfuss says. “Now it’s almost all disappeared.” Duetothelizard’sprotectedstatus,developersarerequired todocarefulsurveysbeforetheycanevenproposeaprojecton potentiallizardhabitat.Seismictesting,wellconstruction,and vegetationremovaltopreventbrushfirescanallbedetrimental to lizards and other ground dwellers.“The well itself may only bethreefeetindiameter,”Papenfusssays,“butithasahugearea aroundit,includingtheinfrastructure,suchaspipes,trucksand storage tanks.” Despitethesechallenges,DavidGermano,abiologyprofessor at Cal State University Bakersfield, says bluntnosedleopardlizardsstill occurinareaswithlow-tomoderateoildevelopment. “They can occur near oil pumps,” Germano wrote in a recent email. “Although any loss of habitat is incrementally harmful to this species, the actual operations of anothermethodofoil/gas extractionisn’tlikelytobe a major concern.”
On the Ground in the Frack Zone It’s midnight as blm biologist Mike Westphal drives past
awindsweptplateauwestofInterstate5,deepinthePanoche Hills,aruggedbadlandspunctuatedbysaltbush,grasses,and discarded beer bottles.“Where it’s flat, that’s where they live,” saysWestphal,whoisusingahandheldspotlighttoilluminate the eyes of kit foxes in the maze of razor-backed ridges, steep canyons, and occasional valleys.“There it is!”he shouts, as the lightpicksouttwoemeraldspots,acouplehundredyardsaway. “There’s two of them,”he adds, as another pair of eyes blinks. “And they’re too low to the ground to be coyotes.” Westphal performs night surveys of endangered species, including San Joaquin kit foxes, a couple of times a year. The rest of the time, he relies on dogs that go out in the morning, when kit foxes are asleep, to locate the animals’ scat. This approachhasallowedhimtoidentify100kitfoxindividualsin thisareaoverthelastfouryears.“Thebiggestthreatisdevelopment,”he says, referring to the irrigated ranks of almond trees andgrapesthatnowflanki-5,displacingthearid,sandyconditionsinwhichkitfoxes,kangaroorats,leopardlizards,andother desert species flourish. Luckily, grazing is a more harmonious match, Westphal observes. “Where nonnative grasses are thick, endangered speciesvanish,soifwecankeeptheranches,bothendangered speciesandrancheswin,”hesays.Sofar,frackingisonlymarginallyonWestphal’sradar.He’smoreconcernedaboutplansfora largesolarplantinthePanocheValleythanoildevelopmenton blm land.“We’ve seen zero wells go in over the past 20 years, even with the lease sales,” he says. Butnoteveryoneissosanguineaboutthefuture.TheSalinas
The Monterey Formation extends beneath much of California, underlying the Central Valley and emerging in outcrops in the Coast Range and along the coast. It consists of rock layers, often fractured by faulting, deposited between 13 and 6 million years ago in offshore marine basins. The fossils of microorganisms that lived in the sea are the source of the oil in the shale layers.
Emily Underwood, underwoodillustration.com
The open, arid country of central California targeted by oil companies and patrolled by California condors can appear almost lifeless in the heat of the day. But it harbors a large number of listed species, many of which take refuge underground, including (from left to right) burrowing owls, kangaroo rats, San Joaquin kit foxes, blunt-nosed leopard lizards, and antelope ground squirrels.
Valley is part of a kit fox satellite recovery area. Paula Getzelaquifercouldhappenwithinhoursordays,butwouldn’tnecessarily be visible at the surface for decades or centuries.” man,avineyardoperatorinLockwood,hasseenfoxes,badgers, Kiparskysaysthatin2011,theaveragefrackingoperationin elk, coyote, and deer on her land near Lake San Antonio.“You can see their trails down to the lake,” says Getzelman, who Californiaused150,000gallonsofwaterperwell,accordingto startededucatingherselfaboutfrackingtwoyearsago,when figuresfromtheCaliforniaIndependentPetroleumAssociation. an exploratory well was drilled ten miles from her place. “Toputitincontext,frackingoperationsusedareported202 Sheworriesaboutwhatfrackingcoulddotothewatersupply acre-feetofwaterin2011fortheentirestateofCalifornia,comin an already water-hungry state.“Oil is important, energy is paredtothemillionacre-feettheStateWaterProjectusesevery important,butonceyou’veruinedtheenvironmentyou’redone,” year,”Kiparskysays,referringtodiversionsfromtheSacramento– Getzelmansays.“InanareawhereagriculturedrivestheeconSanJoaquinDeltathatsupportagricultureintheSanJoaquin omy, that’s a harsh reality.” Valley.“That’snottosaythatfrackingdoesn’timpactthelocal Michael Kiparsky coauthored an April 2013 report for UC watersupply,but[theoverallimpact]willdependonthequality Berkeley’s Center for Law, Energy & the Environment that ofthewaterandhowmuchfrackingoperationstakeawayfrom focuses on the risks that fracking could pose for water supply otheruses.”Kiparskyrecommendsabaselineofwaterquality andquality.Hewarnsthatcontammonitoringalongwithpublicdisination of underground sources closureofthelocationandcontents More Frack ing Coverage Online ofdrinkingwaterispossiblewhen of fracking fluids and injection “Behind the Boom” is part of Sarah Phelan’s developers drill through aquifers well sites. extended coverage of the controversial issue of fracking in California for Bay Nature Institute, enroutetooilreservesintheshale. with special emphasis on the geology, ecosystem “When a hole is drilled, it Fracking in a Fault Zone impacts, and technologies related to exploiting creates a conduit through which It’sthoseinjectionwellsthatalso the oil reserves of the Monterey Formation. oil, gas, and fracking fluids could worryPeggyHellwegoftheBerkeCheck out her in-depth coverage—including move upwards,” Kiparsky says. leySeismologicalLaboratoryatUC articles, videos, and slide shows—of “Fracking “If there was a casing failure, that Berkeley,muchmorethantheactual in the Golden State” at baynature.org/fracking. fracking. movement into the bottom of the bay nature
Frackingleavesbehindcontaminated“producedwater”full ofresiduesthat“youhavetohandleasahazardouswaste,and ratherthancleaningitup,it’seasiertopumpitdownsomehole you don’t need anymore,”Hellweg explains. Those“holes”— orinjectionwells — areoftenoldoilwellsthatarenolongerproducing.The residues in the water aren’t the only problem: It is thesetypesofwellsthathavebeenassociatedwithearthquakes inotherpartsofthecountryandarethereforeasourceofalarm inquake-proneCalifornia,whichcontainsabout30,000injection wells. Hellweg notes that of the tens of thousands of injection wellsintheU.S.,veryfewareassociatedwithlargerearthquakes. A5.6-magnitudequakeinOklahomainNovember2011isthe biggestpotentialsuspecttodate,pendingfurtherreviewbygeologists.“Buttherearestudiesthatshowthatinagiventectonic setting,themorestronglyyouinject,themorelikelythereareto be earthquakes,” she says. Whilescientistsdon’tcompletelyunderstandtheprocess, Hellweg explains that as the“produced water”is injected for disposal, it infiltrates pores in the rock, raising the pressure locallyandcounteractingthetectonicpressuresthatkeepthe opposingsidesofapreexistingfaultpressedtogether.“Inafew casestheraisedpressurefromtheinjectioncouldovercomethe localstressregime,allowinganyshearforcestorupturethefault, resulting in an earthquake,” Hellweg says. Bill Ellsworth of the U.S. Geological Survey’s Earthquake Science Center in Menlo Park concurs and advocates better reportingaboutdisposaloperationsatinjectionwellstogoalong withthealready-robustseismicmonitoringsystemsthroughout muchoftheareaproposedforfracking.“Itwouldimproveour understanding of why only a few injection wells are seismic problem-children,” he says.
Weighing the Costs
Overthepastyear,therewasaflurryofproposedlegislation totightentheregulatoryleashonfracking.CaliforniaStateSenator Bill Monning, whose district covers much of the Central Coast, is a cosponsor of Senator Fran Pavley’s (Southern California) sb 4, which seeks greater regulation for all“enhanced recoverymethods”inthestate(seebox).Hehasheardtheargumentthatit’sessentialtoexploreandexploittheoilintheMontereyFormationtoreducedependencyonforeignsources.“The real cause for concern is the advent of a potential expansion,” Monning says.“When I look at the cost of technology and the
Legislative Action on Fracking Given the many serious concerns raised about the environmental impacts of fracking and the lack of state regulations to address the risks associated with this and other forms of “well stimulation” (including acidization and steam), State Senator Fran Pavley introduced SB 4 in early 2013. The bill strengthens permit requirements for all such “nontraditional” oil recovery methods, requires full disclosure of the chemicals used in the fracking process, and mandates studies of potential earthquake hazards and water quality/supply impacts. Some environmental groups supported the bill, while others were disappointed that it did not include a moratorium while studies were carried out. However, the bill that passed both the Senate and Assembly in midSeptember included last minute amendments pushed by the oil industry that most environmental groups claim will exempt fracking from environmental review. And so, as we go to press, these groups are urging Governor Jerry Brown not to sign the bill. To find out more go to cleanwateraction.org/fracking-california.
environmentalimpactofextraction,weshouldputthatonthe balance sheet.” The condor circles back toward her nest among the rock spires of the Pinnacles, flying high over a dramatic California landscapeofruggedhillsandopenvalleysshapedovereonsby theencounteroftwooftheearth’sgreatcrustalplates.Itisperhapsironicthatthesamedynamicgeologythatproducedsome ofthegreatestbiodiversityontheplanet — abiodiversitythat has nurtured the condor and the kit fox and the leopard lizard overmillennia — hasalsoproducedasubstancethatdrivesour economyandwhoseextractionmaysoonposeathreattothat samebiodiversity,nottomentionourgroundwater,agriculture, andairquality.Beforeweattempttosqueezethelastdropsof oilfromtheground,likebloodfromastone,wemightwantto takethatcondor’s-eyeviewofCalifornia’smanifoldrichesand consider leaving “well” enough alone. SarahPhelanisamaster’scandidateatUCBerkeley’sSchoolofJournalism.Shehas writtenforRichmondConfidential,theSanFranciscoBayGuardian,and EarthIslandJournalinthecourseofherjournalismcareer.Whensheisn’ttracking kitfoxesorscanningtheskyforcondors,shecanbefoundcountingnativebeesalighting on flowers near her home in the East Bay.
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climate Change: Dispatches from the Home Front
© 2002 MBARI
Ocean Acid Trip: The Hidden Harm of Climate Change
“Dispatches from the Home Front” is a series of articles highlighting groundbreaking work being done by Bay Area institutions, agencies, and nonprofit groups to comprehend, mitigate, and adapt to the impact of climate change on Bay Area ecosystems. The series is a partnership with the Bay Area Ecosystem Climate Change Consortium (baeccc.org). More at baynature.org/climate-change.
harlesFourier,a19th-centuryFrenchphilosopher, was a visionary’s visionary. If society adopted his versionofutopiansocialism,humanity,hepromised, would be transformed — and so would the natural world. In the coming era of Perfect Harmony, six moons would circle the planet. The North Pole would become warmerthantheMediterranean.Evenbetter,alltheoceans would turn to lemonade. Perfect harmony remains elusive. But the poles are indeedwarmingup,andthechemistryoftheseasischanging,althoughthelemonadethresholdisawaysoff.Theprocessiscalledoceanacidification(oaforshort),atermcoined by scientists around 1999. What’s driving it is the ability of
by Joe Eaton
theoceanstosoakupcarbon dioxide like a giant sponge. The seas have absorbed about a third of the co2 producedbyallhumanactivities, from the first brush firessetbyhunter-gatherers onthroughmodernexhaustpipe and smokestack emissions.That’sbeenimportant inmitigatingthegreenhouse effectresponsibleforglobal warming. But there’s a cost. That influx of co2 is changingthechemicalcompositionofseawater,making it more acidic and, among otherimpacts,moredifficult formanymarineorganisms — mollusks, corals, sea urchins — to build their shells. While we’ve heard about coral reefs in tropical Experiment conducted by MBARI on the seaseas dying out, less wellfloor at 3,600 meters studies the impacts of publicizedchangesaretaking increased CO2 on the deep ocean environplaceherealongtheCaliforment while a rattail fish awaits the results. niacoast,wheretheprevailingwindsandcurrentsactuallyincreasetheacidityofthewater. But now a consortium of scientists up and down the Pacific coast has formed to get a handle on the problem. When I was a kid, I had an aquarium whose inmates were mostlyNewWorldtropicalfish:guppies,tetras,angelfish.These exiles from the Amazon needed acidic water to feel at home. That, long before I even saw a Bunsen burner or the periodic table, is how I learned about pH. ThepH(“powerofhydrogen”)scalereflectstheconcentration of hydrogen ions in a solution. Distilled water has a“neutral” pH of seven. A lower-pH solution is acidic; higher, alkaline. Fourier’s lemonade is about 2 or 3. Like the Richter earthquake scale, it’s logarithmic: a one-unit decrease in the number shows a tenfold increase in acidity. Seawaterhashistoricallybeenalkaline,butisincreasingly becominglessso.Near-surfacemarinepHiscurrentlyabout8.1, 30percentmoreacidicthanbeforetheIndustrialRevolution.It’s projectedtodropto7.8by2100,a150percentincreaseinacidity
Acidification affects the ability of mollusks such as barnacles and mussels (below) to form their calcium carbonate shells. The impacts will be felt up through the nearshore food web by oystercatchers (right) and other wildlife.
on Tomales Bay, is partnering with Dr. Tessa Hill (below) of UC Davis to study the impact of ocean acidification on oysters. Dr. Hill holds a sensor that monitors ocean pH in the bay.
Brenna Schlagenauf, Hog Island Oyster Co.
inthreecenturies.The greatertheacidity,the lower the carbonate ion concentration, whichmakesitharder for marine organisms toconvertthecalcium carbonateinseawater intomineralizedcalcite or aragonite, the stuff of their shells. What doesthismeanfortheoceanecosystemingeneral?Andalong theCaliforniacoastinparticular?We’rejustbeginningtofigure that out. First of all, we need to understand that ocean pH isn’t uniform.DeepwaterisnaturallylowerinpHthanshallowercoastal waters,inpartbecauseofallthedeep-seacreaturesbreathing outco2.That’sbeenamplifiedbyatmosphericco2enteringthe ocean.HereontheCaliforniacoast,deepwaterrisestoreplace surfacewaterdrivenoffshorebyseasonalwinds.Ironically,the upwellingthatfuelsthebiologicalbountyoftheCaliforniaCurrentbringsacidifiedwatertowardthesurface.Recentcomputer modelspredictthatconditionsherewillreachacriticalpointfor shellformationinmollusksandothermarinecreaturesby2050. Forafirsthandlookathowscientistsaretracingtheregional effects of oa, I visited UC Davis’s Bodega Marine Lab on a windy mid-April day when the bluff outside was a carpet of coastalwildflowers.TheBodegaOceanAcidificationResearch group (boar) has a two-pronged agenda. To track actual pH conditionsintheocean,sensorshavebeensunkinarockycove belowthelabandmooredakilometer offshore. Nine more monitoring sites stretchfromNewport,Oregon,toSanta Barbara.Meanwhile,insideandonshore, away from the scenic distractions,
Terry Sawyer (left), the owner of Hog Island Oyster Co.
geologistTessa Hill presides over a room full of plexiglass jars wherenativemarineorganismsarerearedunderdifferentco2 concentrations. It’s a kind of time machine: boar researchers canmatchcurrentatmosphericconditions(therecentlycrossed threshold of 400 parts per million of co2) and simulate conditions projected for the turn of the next century if emissions continueunabated,upto1,000ppm.(co2justbelowthesurface oftheseagenerallymatchesconcentrationsintheatmosphere.) “We raise Olympia oysters as larvae until they settle, then move them to Tomales Bay and monitor them in the field,” says Hill. “The 1,000 ppm larvae are 40 percent smaller than theonesinthecontrolgroupwhenwemovethem.Theynever catch up.” In previous experiments,Californiamusselsexposed tohighco2concentrationsdeveloped smaller, thinner, weaker shells,makingthemmorevulnerable to predators. Unlike oysters and mussels, sea urchins don’t appear to be suffering similar impacts, even though they also use calcium carbonate — combined with a layer of organic material — to make up their shells. “We saw nodramaticmorphologicaldifferenceinurchinsraisedunder higher co2 concentrations,”Hill says. Why not? According to Hill, the answer likely resides in the genes. InarecentarticleinthejournalEvolution,Stanfordpost-doc Melissa Pespeni described changes in the genes governing biomineralizationandmetabolism — theprocessesresponsible fortheformationoftheurchins’shells — thatoccurredoverthe course of an experiment at Hill’s lab. “We found the urchins have‘lucky genes,’”coauthor Steve Palumbi, also at Stanford, told an npr reporter. Think of genes as a tool kit: “If you happentohavebadplumbing,you’llhavemoreplumbingtoolsin yourhouse.”Theurchin’skit,evolvedinanenvironmentwhere Ron Wolf
Ann Dowie, Hog Island Oyster Co.
crabs (above) suffer stress under high pH conditions, while purple sea urchins (right) seem to be able to adapt to them.
upwelling can suddenly lower pH, may serve it well in acidifiedfutureseas.Other calcifiers, without the urchin’s natural genetic variability, high fecundity, and strong potential for dispersal, may be less fortunate. TheBodegaexperimentsandstudieselsewheresuggestthat oawon’tbebadnewsforallcreatures.“Lobstersandcrabsdon’t appear to be negatively affected at all,” says Hill. Their shells haveanepicuticle,athickexternalorganiclayerthatprevents direct contact with seawater. So some popular restaurant menu items might be safe for now. But on balance, the losers may outnumber the winners. Barnacles, quite common along the California coast, have calcium-carbonate-based shells and show effects similar to thoseinoystersandmussels.Tworecentcomparisonsofmore than100publishedstudiescoveringmostmarineplantandanimalgroupsreachedsimilarconclusions:Overall,shell-forming andsurvivalarecompromised,especiallywiththecombination of oa and warmer temperatures. We humans might not miss the barnacles right away, althoughshorebirdslikeoystercatchersandturnstonescertainly would. But the threat to commercially farmed mollusks — oysters,mussels,clams — israisingalarms.Oyster-growingalone isa$110millionbusinessonthePacificCoast,withannualrevenuesinCaliforniareaching$12millionin2005.Fiveyearsago, the Whiskey Creek Shellfish Hatchery at Netarts Bay on the Oregon coast suffered a mass die-off of larval oysters. The ownerssuspecteddisease,butwatersamplesturnedouttobe pathogen-free.OregonStateUniversitybiogeochemistBurke Hales, who coauthored a 2012 report on the oyster die-off, identified low-pH seawater as the culprit.TheTaylor Shellfish HatcheryinWashingtonStateexperiencedsimilarmortality.In anarticlepublishedthissummer,Hales’colleagueGeorgeWaldbusserexplainsthevulnerabilityofoystersatthisstageinterms bay nature
ofenergybudgets:livingofftheiryolks,thetinycreaturessuccumbtothestressoftheshell-formingeffortwhenexposedto low-pH seawater. AllthisismorethanacademictoTerrySawyer,co-ownerof the Hog Island Oyster Company in Tomales Bay. He came to shellfishfarmingfromabackgroundinmarinebiologyresearch, but now it’s his livelihood. After the Oregon andWashington die-offs,heapproachedHillaboutcollaboratingwithboar.She callstheirwork“amodelrelationship.”SincelastAugust,SawyerhasdeployedsensorsthatmeasurepHand other variables at the point where water from the bay enters his growing tanks. The data is downloadedonceamonth.“Obviouslywe’dlike to have this data real-time so we can shut the intakewhenpHdrops,”hesays.“We’reworking on that, with help from Burke Hales. We can’t sit around and wait for something to happen.” Estuariesaredynamicenvironments,andoa is complicated in places like Tomales Bay. “In winteryouhavenutrientloading,rainfall,and runoff,” Sawyer adds. Hill elaborates: “Fresh water flowing across the local bedrock — volcanic and sedimentary material — is low in pH. Seasonally, estuaries see big bursts of low-pH water from rivers and streams. It’s also low in calcium carbonateions.”Tocompoundthesituation,upwelledseawater, with its lower pH, moves in and out of the bay. Superimposed onthoseseasonalfluxesaredailycycles,drivenbytherespiration of aquatic creatures. “By nightfall, you get a big buildup of respired carbon and a drop in pH,”says Hill. During the night, respiration slows and pH rebounds. Thedeepseaenvironment — cold,lightless,nutrient-poor — isverydifferentfromnearshorewatersandestuaries;conditions arestable,lifeprocessesslow.Yetacidificationisaconcernthere aswell.EarlyresearchbyJimBarryoftheMontereyBayAquariumResearchInstitute(mbari)showedthatpumpingco2down totheseafloor,toutedasacarbon-sequestrationmethod,killed tiny creatures that live in seafloor sediment. Larger surfacedwelling animals appeared less sensitive. Barry’ssubsequentstudiesshowedmoresubtlemetabolic effects of “normal” co2 absorption over time. Working with deep ocean speciesposesamajorchallenge;youcan’tjustcollecta fewspeciesfromatidepool. FortunatelyBarryhasaccess to mbari’s remotely operated submersible vehicle (rov) and to nearby MBARI researcher Jim Barry examines a sea urchin used in experiments to gauge the impact of CO2 on deep-sea animals.
Todd Walsh, © 2009 MBARI
Eocene Thermal Maximum 55 million years ago. Even if we manage to curb greenhouse gas emissions, the acidification trend, like sea level rise, is already locked in — and no one has come up with a plausible technological fix. Butresearchisintensifyingsothatwecanatleastanticipate the consequences. Locally, a California Current Acidification Network has been formed. On a broader scale, boar, mbari, Stanford,OregonState,twouccampuses,andtheUniversity of Hawaii are part of the Ocean Margin Ecosystems Group for © 2011 MBARI
MontereySubmarineCanyon,withdepthsapproaching4,000 meters. Using the rov’s ability to transport equipment to the seafloorandalab-basedresearcher’sabilitytoremotelyguide thevehicle’s“arms”and“eyes,”Barrywasabletotesttheimpact ofelevatedco2onbottom-dwellingspecies.“Weflewtherov downintothecanyonandcaughtanimalswitha‘slurpgun,’”he recalls.Somewerebroughtbacktothelab,wheredeepwaterlivingconditionsatdepthweresimulated;otherswereplacedin testchambersontheseafloor.Inbothsettings,Barrymeasured baselinemetabolicrates,thenrampedupco2levelsandmonitored the effects. Resultssofarsuggestsomedeepwaterspecies(tannercrabs, someurchins)suffermoremetabolicstressinhigh-co2conditionsthantheirshallow-seacounterparts.There’slittledataon deepseafish(likethepudgycuskeelandabyssalgrenadier)and octopi: they’re too hard to catch, even with the rov. But other studiessuggestlowpHmightcompromisetheirabilitytobind oxygen. “Beyond the effects on shell formation,” Barry says, (right) MBARI technicians launch the remotely oper-
AcidificationStudies(omegas.)Publishedarticles inscientificjournalsareincreasingexponentially. deep sea conditions Montereyhostedthethirdinternationalsympoin Monterey Canyon. siumonoalastfall,withover150presentations. (far right) The robotic Butmainstreammediacoverage,beyondtwoexcelarm (“slurp gun”) of lentarticlesbyNewYorkersciencewriterElizabeth an ROV removes a Kolbert,hasbeensparse.Scientistsrecognizethe sea urchin from an needtogetthewordout,andsoonerratherthan experimental chamlater. As boar’sTessa Hill says,“There’s an awareber on the seafloor. ness that mistakes were made in the scientific Kim Fulton-Bennett, © 2004 MBARI community with climate change.We didn’t talk “we’relookingatotherfactorslikegrowthandreproduction.We openlyenoughwiththepublicandthemedia.Wecan’tletthat happen with acidification.” wanttounderstandtheabilitytoadapt.Someoftheseanimals InCalifornia,they’retargetingastrategicaudience.Building arealreadylivingontheedge.Howwilltheyperforminfuture onpioneeringeffortsinWashingtonState,whereformergoveroceans?Will there be cascading effects in the food web up to things we care about?” norChristineGregoireappointedablue-ribbonpanel,thenon“Thingswecareabout”mightincludesalmon,somespecies profitCaliforniaOceanScienceTrusthasconvenedanadvisory of which feed on pteropods, pelagic snails whose shells may groupwithadualfocusonoceanacidificationandlowoxygen, actually dissolve at projected levels of acidity in the North anothergrowingconcern.TessaHillisamember.Trustexecutive Pacific.Whathappensifthepteropodscrash?Orconsiderbryodirector Skyli McAfee says the panel will look at cumulative zoans,smallfilter-feedingcolonialanimalsthatencrustpilings impacts, adaptive potential of species and ecosystems, and options for local mitigation. “We want to respond to the andkelpfronds;theyalsohavecalcium-carbonateshells.“They’re informationneedsofpolicy-makersandresourcemanagers,” important in kelp forests,”explains Bodega Lab postdoctoral sheadds,promising“excitingdevelopments.”It’sanencouraging researcherDanSweezy.“Iftooabundant,theycanhaveanegative — and necessary — start. effectonthekelp.”Butthey’repreyforseaslugsandotherkelpdwellinginvertebrates,andtheirlosswouldhaveconsequences. JoeEatonisaland-basedwriter,althoughhehasbeencuriousaboutseacreatures Even if some creatures have the potential to adapt, time is sinceearlysummersintheGeorgiaSeaIslandsandontheFloridaGulfCoast.His writingcurrentlyappearsintheSanFranciscoChronicleandEstuaryNews. againstthem.Sealifehassurvivedpreviousacidificationepisodes,justbarely — 96percentofallmarinespecieswerewiped out in the end-Permian extinction, 252 million years ago.The Funding for “Dispatches From the Home Front” has been provided by the State Coastal Conservancy speedofpresent-daychangeisunprecedented,fasterthanthe and Pacific Gas & Electric Company. lastmajorbuildupofatmosphericco2duringthePaleoceneated vehicle (ROV)
Ventana to study the
The Stewardship Connection Interview with Sue Gardner, by Jacoba Charles Forthepast20years,MillValleynativeSueGardnerhasruntheGoldenGateNationalParksConservancy’s ParkStewardshipprogram,connectingpeopletotheGoldenGateNationalRecreationArea(GGNRA), thenation’slargesturbannationalpark,throughvolunteerrestorationprojects,internshipprograms,citizen science initiatives, and a whole lot more. JC:Whatweretheearlyinfluencesthatledyouto your current career? SG: I grew up in Mill Valley when it was really still quite wild. There was an intergenerationalpodofkidsandwe’d all play outside — being inside was boring. None of us considered staying insidebecauseitmeanthavingtohang out with our parents, where there was nothing to do. So, growing up with so muchopenspacesurroundingmereally helped to develop my connection to nature. Then when I was in high school we had to do 100 hours of community service.Igothookedupwithaprogram that was running a summer camp that was free to kids referred from local social service programs. Everybody who worked at the camp was a volunteer, from the director to the cook to the counselors. They did it to give localyouthcomingfromtryingcircumstancesanopportunitytohaveacamp experience. We did everything from archery to hiking to arts and crafts — we were outside every day and that’s when the healing and connective power of nature became clear to me. That was a transformative experience for me. JC:Howdidyoustartgettingthecommunity involved in stewardship? SG: I first got started myself up at Point Reyes National Seashore. I was just out of grad school and I was hired onto a projecttoremoveFrenchbroomfroma wildernessarea.Itwassupposedtotake six to eight months, but I was able to do it in two or three months because I started working with the Boy Scout troops and volunteers. It seemed like a bay nature
win-win: Not only did the work get done twice as fast, but we fired up a group of volunteers that could help maintain these areas over time. That’s how I became more aware of the value of engaging the community. When I started working here in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area there was already a small group of indi-
givethemanopportunitytohelpuscare for the park. JC:CanyoutellmeabouttheGGNRAvolunteer program, in a nutshell? SG: The Park Stewardship Program is oneofmanyprogramsthatengagethe community within this park. I don’t wantittosoundlikewe’retheonlygame intown,becausethereareactuallyalot of them. One thing we do in the stewardship program is active restoration on the landscape.Wehaveoneteamoutthere monitoringendangeredspecies,tracking restorationprogress,anddoingthemore technicalpartoftherestorationprocess. The citizen science aspect of this work isanareawhereIbelievewe’regoingto seealotofgrowthinthefuture,because people want to be out there helping courtesy Sue Gardner
Sue Gardner with Jeremy Traylor, a participant in GGNPC’s LINC (Linking Individuals to their Natural Communities) summer high school program.
viduals, the Habitat RestorationTeam, whohadmobilizedtorestoreandmaintain habitat within the park with support from the public. We’rereallyblessedcomparedtomany parks that don’t have such an amazing communityrightattheirdoorstep.And becausewe’resoblessed,Ifeelit’salmost our obligation to invite people in and
with the more technical work like data collection. Wehaveanotherteamthatworkson connectingvolunteerstotrailandrestorationprojectsineachofthethreecounties the park is in: Marin, San Francisco, and San Mateo. And then we have a whole separate team that runs youth programs. They canspinoffanddoprogramsseparately, or connect up with all the other volunteer programs in the park, or link up
with our park partners. So for instance, this week the youth in our summer programsworkedinthehistoricgardens on Alcatraz, kayaked on Lake Merced, removedgraffitifromhistoricstructures in the Marin Headlands, and pulled French broom in Oakwood Valley. JC:Andwhat’syourroleinmakingallthis happen? SG: My role is to support a brilliant team of staff and interns who then engagethelocalcommunityinhabitat restoration,trailmaintenance,andyouth programming — it’s pretty big and diverse. You also asked me about my strengths. I would say I’m a decent volunteer manager, but my real skill is making connections. I get very excited about building partnerships and, through these new relationships, connecting more people into the park. I also think I’m really good at surroundingmyselfwithtalentedindividuals who bring different skill sets and perspectives — soasacollectionwe have a broader array of talents thananyofusdoindividuallyand wecanapplythistotheprogramming we co-create. JC:Hasrunningthisprogramchanged the way you look at a landscape? SG: What I’m really awestruck by is the transformative nature of thelandscapeforthepeoplewho engageintheprograms.Ourfocus hasbeenonconnectingvolunteers to take care of the land. But what I’vecometorealizeistheinverse — how being out in nature transformspeople,sometimeswithout their even realizing it. I’ve witnessedthisonsomanyoccasions, particularly with the youth programs. Many of the youth in our summerprogramscomefromSan Francisco and other urban local areas,andwestartbytakingthem to Yosemite for four or five days of camping. They often start out tentativeanduncomfortablebeing away from the lights, Wi-Fi, and thecreaturecomfortsofthecity.I
watch how there’s almost a dna-level transformationthatoccurswhenpeople are in nature: It resonates that deeply sometimes.Bytheendtheydon’twant to leave. What’s really neat for me is knowing it’s a two-way street: All the work we’re doing creates a positive impact for the resources,andthenaturalareasaregiving as much back to us, if not more. JC:Whataresomeofthechallengesyouface? SG:Ithink,foravolunteermanager,the biggestchallengeisnotburningout.A goodvolunteermanagerputshisorher wholeheartintothejob — everyvolunteer is basically a friend, and hosting a volunteerdayislikehavingpeopleover to your house a few times a week. If the manager is connecting with both herhead and heart it’s very exhausting over time. So one of the keys has been settinggoodboundaries,findingways to reenergize myself, and developing amazingpartnershipswithotherswho share the responsibility of caretaking the volunteers.
C O M I N G
H O M E
Pinned to Gardner’s wall for inspiration is a copy of this passage written by Diego Ochoa, a high school student who worked in her park stewardship program: When I heard Shelton Johnson, the Buffalo Soldier expert/park ranger, tell Eddie that “going back to the city wasn’t going back to the real world. This here is the real world; everything in the city was created,” I really began to feel that this was the answer I had been searching for. That this was the answer to my question, “What is it that I feel when I am out among the trees, birds, beautiful sites, or even when I breathe air that has not yet been polluted by heavy pollution?” I had found my answer. It was home. . . . [Parks] are our home. We can go there and not be judged or discriminated against. We can be ourselves. . . . As long as we can all grasp that feeling that reminds us that we are human, and nothing more special than a ponderosa pine or a black bear, we can live a more peaceful life in our home. And that is how my connection to nature came. I did not hear or see it. I felt it.
Mychallengeshaveshiftedovertime becauseI’mnotdoingasmuchone-ononevolunteermanagementanymore. Now I worry about how to maintain funding and support for the programs over time while supporting the staff andinterns.Itendtoseeopportunities aroundeverycorner,soIhavetobecarefulnottooverwhelmmyteamormyself. And I do make a point of getting out into the park once or twice a week so that I can connect with the staff on the ground and to make sure that I’m connected with the resource that I’m ultimatelyworkingtorestoreandconnect people to. JC:Whatisyourfavoritethingaboutthepark? SG: There are two things I really love. First, that our parkland is a public asset: it’s for everyone. That’s part of what we do in stewardship: introduce more people to the parks and invite them to return. I also love its location. Being so close to the city allows a lot of opportunities for people to get involved. I know of very few cities like San Francisco, whichhassuchanamazinggreenbelt surrounding it. We are so lucky. JustthisweekI’vebeenhelping outwithouryouthprogramsmore than I normally do, and I’ve been so struck with the diversity of habitatsandopportunitiesinthis park — the range of cultural and natural resources just blows me away. You can be out one day repairing an old ship used to haul timbers in the Gold Rush era and the next day you can be underground in a battery at Fort Cronkhite or out on Alcatraz helping restore the gardens, or hiking the trail at Dias Ridge above Muir Beach and helping to restore native habitat there. It’s just a crazy amount of diversity and richness. I hope I can inspire others to come check it out! LearnmoreaboutGGNPC’sParkStewardshipprogramatbit.ly/ParkStewardship.
Removing Invasive Frogs from Golden Gate Park
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (cdfw) is in the final stages of eradicating the invasive South African clawedfrog fromapondinGoldenGate Park,whereithaseliminatedvirtuallyall theotheraquaticwildlife.Andnowthe results of a recent study are providing anevengreaterincentivefortheproject:
citizens’ group such as ahosc. So the committeeishopingsomelargerorganizations will join forces to save the hills. “What we’re trying to do is light the fire, buildthepublicbaseofenthusiasmand knowledgeabouttheland,andencourage the right people to get involved.” In the front yard of David Hanna’s home there is a quiet stillness that makesthecriss-crossinghighwaysand Martinez’sShellOilrefineryseemlightyearsaway.Likehisgreat-grandfather,he enjoys a quiet life in the hills.“It’s really peacefulouthere,”Hannasays.“Welike it that way.” [Alessandra Bergamin]
TheSouthAfricanclawedfroghasbeen identifiedasoneoftheoriginalcarriers ofanexoticfungalpathogenresponsible for the demise of hundreds of amphibiansaround the world. “This disease is causing thebiggestdecline [in amphibians] ever recorded by a singlepathogenin history,” says San FranciscoStateUniveritybiologistand researcher Vance Vredenburg. The pathogen known as Bd (short forBatrachochytriumdendrobatidis)infects at least 350 species of amphibians and is found on all continents except Antarctica.Scientistshavebeenlookingfor waystocontrolthespreadofthedisease, calledchytridiomycosis,beforeittakes out even more species. In Golden Gate Park, the clawed frog, which is itself immune to the disease, has taken up residence in the Lily Pond, a dank pool of water just off JFK
Drive near the California Academy of Sciences.Thepond,whichiscompletely coveredinduckweedandotheraquatic vegetation, used to be a place where turtlessunbathedandducksswam.But the invasive frog has turned it into a virtual dead zone. “The clawed frogs will eat anything that moves in front of them,”saysEricLarson,anenvironmental manager with cdfw.“There’s nothing else at the pond now because of Jackson Mauze
(continuedfrompage7)capacity of a small
them,nofishandnofrogs.They’revoraciousfeeders,highlyreproductive,with no known predators.” The clawed frog was brought to the United States in the(continuedonpage39)
Photograph © Margo Bors
California Native Grasses, Wild�lowers, Forbs & Wetland Species
Native Plant Sales
The California Native Plant Society organizes many plant sales in the fall. Fall is the perfect time to plant natives in a California gardenfor beauty, a sense of place, unmatched habitat value, water & energy conservation, and reduced chemical use.
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Oct. 12, 10am-3pm; Oct. 13, 1-3pm Berkeley (Native Here Nursery) Oct. 12, 10am-3pm Novato (Green Point Nursery)
Oct. 12, 9am-12pm Santa Rosa (Veterans Memorial)
Oct. 12, 10am-4pm; Oct. 13, 10am-3pm Napa (Skyline Park) Oct. 19, 10am-3pm Los Altos Hills (Hidden Villa Ranch)
Oct. 26, 1-5pm San Francisco (Miraloma Pk. Improvement Club)
Sept. 12, Plant ID Workshops, 2nd Thursday of each month, San Francisco (SFSU)
Oct. 15, Lecture-Advantages of Fall Planting (Speaker-Curtis Short) Santa Rosa Oct. 19, Field Trip-San Bruno Mt. Summit Trail, Daly City
Nov. 19, Lecture-Mushrooms of N. CA (Speaker-Rachel Zierdt), Santa Rosa Jan. 5, CNPS-East Bay Chapter Trip, Huddart Park, San Mateo County
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Los Vaqueros Interpretive Center and Marina For the latest activity schedule, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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used in human pregnancy tests.When moderntechnologymadethatuseobsolete, many of the frogs were simply released into the wild. The first publicized case of the Bd fungus in California was found in a yellow-leggedfrogintheSierraNevada in 1978, though scientists now believe the fungus had caused many other amphibiandeathsbefore.Scientistsare researchingseveralinnovativebiological approachesforcontrollingthespreadof the Bd pathogen, but in the short term, thebestbetforkeepingitfromspreading to other parts of Golden Gate Park is to eliminate the frogs. “Now that we’veidentifiedthefungusinthepark,” says Larson, “it’s very important that we get rid of these frogs right away. Our goal is to eradicate them this summer.” Previous efforts to get rid of the frogs through trapping reduced the numbers dramatically, but all it takes is one fertile female, Vredenburg said, for the population to rebound. So now
statebiologistsareaddinglowdosesof chlorine to the pond water to kill off the remaining frogs, which like other amphibianscannottoleratethechemical. Researchersbelievethelong-termecological harm will be minimal because chlorinebreaksdownquicklyinsunlight. The tarps currently covering Lily Pond arehelpingtocontainthechlorinewhile it goes to work, getting rid of both the frogsandthefungus,researchershope. [Jackson Mauze]
welldueto newregulations onshipnavigation issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that narrow — and in places extend — the shippinglanesaroundtheGoldenGate. And in July, a mobile “spotter” app was released that allows users (such as boat captains) to pinpoint real-time whalelocationsonamap,afeaturethat helpspreventimminentcollisionsand John Calambokidis, Cascadia Research
(continuedfrompage36)1940s and widely
Mobile App to Help the Whales
Ithasbeenapromisingseasonforspotting whales that gather in the waters of the Pacific Ocean off the coast of the BayAreathankstoamassivekrillbloom that is bringing the large marine mammals closer to shore than usual. That’s greatforwhalewatchers,thoughnotso greatforthewhalesthemselves,because it brings them more frequently into potentiallydangerouscontactwiththe shipsthatplythewatersjustoutsidethe Golden Gate. Butthere’sgoodnewsonthatfrontas
creates a database of whale sightings that can be used to further adjust shipping lanes in the future. With the spotter app — available from iTunes as Spotter Pro — users can record the locations of their whale sightings and any relevant behaviors(continuedonpage40)
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“It’s really our eyes and ears on the water,” says Michael Carver, deputy superintendent for the Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary. “We’relookingatcreativestrategies to change the distribution of vessels based on real-time information about wherethewhalesmightbeatanygiven time,”saysLeslieAbramson,aresource protection specialist with the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. Fortunately, shippers have been on boardwiththenewregulationsandhave cooperatedwithregulatorsandconservation groups. The Pacific Merchant Shipping Association (pmsa) has contributed funds for the development of theappandhelpedcreateeducational posters to familiarize ship crews with whalespeciesandreportingmethods. “They have been really cooperative,” Abramson confirms. “They love those animals as much or more than any of us landlubbers.” pmsavicepresidentJohnBergesays
shippershaveanimportantroletoplay, given their maritime vantage point: “Ships have the potential to serve as platforms for spotting and reporting whalesonthecoast,sincetheyaretraveling those routes as a matter of course.” CarolKeiper,amarineecologistwith the conservation nonprofit Oikonos EcosystemKnowledge, hasbeenfieldtesting the app since March. “I love using this app,” she says. “Instead of spendingsomuchtimewritingthedata andthenenteringitonmycomputerina database,allIneedtodoistap,tap,tap.”
has occurred outside the urban core, resulting in sprawl and its attendant problems, including greenhouse gas emissionsfromallthevehicle-milestraveledbypeoplegoingtoandfromwork, school, and the shopping mall. But in July 2013 — just in time, some would say — regional planners adopted Plan Bay Area as part of a colossal effort to wrangle more than two-thirds of the Michael Patrick
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Communities Strategies” (scs) that accommodatenewhousingwhilereducingtailpipeemissions,theleadingsource ofgreenhousegasemissionsinthestate (30 percent of total). Unlike laws that justsetgoals,sb375hasactualincentives: Dispersaloffederaltransportationdollarsistiedtoacommunity’scompliance with its scs plan. Most of the public attention—both positiveandnegative—aroundPlanBay Area has focused on the identified“priority development areas” (pdas). But openspaceadvocateshavetakennoteof a significant sidecar to the pdas: More than 100“priority conservation areas” (pcas)arenotedintheplanasregionally significantopenspacesandaregetting their own small but welcome funding. Theregionalplanners — MetropolitanTransitAgencyandtheAssociation ofBayAreaGovernments — willallocate $10 million in federal transportation dollars to projects that support the pcas.“This is the first time a long-term regional transportation plan is using transportation dollars to support con-
servation,”saysStephanieReyes,director of the nonprofit smart growth group Greenbelt Alliance. True, the grant program is just a pilot, and it’s not a whole lot of money comparedtothe$800millionincentive programforthepdasoverthenextfour years.Butopenspaceadvocatesareviewing the pca pilot as a first round of funding with more to come when Plan Bay Area is updated in 2017. “We see this as expanding in the future,” says Andrea Mackenzie, general manager of the Santa Clara County Open Space Authority.“Preserving open space is a necessarycomplementtosmartdevelopment in terms of addressing climate change.” The pca grant program will start awardingfundingthisfall.Eligibleprojectswillincludeopenspaceacquisition and improving public access to open space, as well as enhanced pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure. Mackenzie is hoping that regional plannerswillfurtherstrengthenthelink betweenurbandevelopmentandpreserv-
ing open space in future versions of theplanbytyingdevelopmentfunding directly to commitments to preserve land. Overall, though, she thinks the plan is a good start. “It’s setting an expectation and changing the culture of land use planning. That’s the best thing that comes out of this. There are carrotsthereforgoodlanduseplanning, and we need additional carrots in the future for proactively protecting the land.” [Alison Hawkes] Snowy Plovers Return to Stinson Beach
This year, a tiny shorebird that lives on sandy beaches returned to some of its formerbreedinglocalesforthefirsttime indecades,spawningasciencemystery storyintheprocess.Thesnowyploveris a year-round resident along our coast. Itswesternpopulationhasbeenfederally listed as threatened under the EndangeredSpeciesActsince1993.InCentral Californiamanyscientists,resourcemanagers, and trained volunteers monitor plovers and work to(continuedonpage43)
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from predation and disturbance. CarletonEysterstudiessnowyplovers nearMontereyforPointBlueConservation Science (formerly prbo). In midApril,onabusman’sholidayofsorts,he wasstrollingonStinsonBeachand,out ofhabit,scanningthesandsforplovers and their nests. The plovers are small, sand-colored birds that most people overlookbecausetheirplumagehelps them blend in with the sandy habitat. Tohisamazement,Carletondetecteda handful of snowy plovers grouped at a singlenest,reallyjustashallowdepression in the sand. The last time this species bred at Stinson Beach, to anyone’s knowledge, was in 1983, fully three decades ago. Stinson is one of the Bay Area’s mostpopularrecreationalbeaches,so it was a surprise that snowy plovers — whichshyawayfromareaswithfrequent disturbance — wouldhavechosentonest here.Butscientiststhinktheyknowwhy: Due to the low storm activity this past winter, the beach didn’t lose as much
sand as usual, and so this summer the beachisuncommonlywide,leavingmore space for the plovers to coexist with people and their dogs. Yetfargreatersurpriseswereinstore for the scientists following the Stinson Beach saga. As Lynne Stenzel of Point
(continuedfrompage41)protect their nests
Blueexplains,severalaspectsofthisnest were unusual. “First, there were five ploversincloseproximitywhiletheeggs werebeinglaid;usuallypairsareterritorialaroundtheirnest.Observersidentified three of these birds as females fromtheircoloredlegbands[placedby researchersonsomeploverchickstohelptrack thepopulation–Ed.];theothertwowere
brightly plumaged males. Then, severaldaysafterthenestheldtheusual three eggs, a fourth egg appeared — uncommonthoughnotunheardof.But then two different plovers, both presumed females, took turns on the eggs forpartofthe28-dayincubationperiod. Finally,bothmalesdisappearedfromthe areabeforetheeggshatched — unusual becausethemaleusuallystaysandtends the chicks.”Instead, a seeming female assumed the parenting duties, rather thanabandoningthenesttobreedagain elsewhere. “Seeming” because of its plumage, though not its behavior! The Point Blue researchers would dearlylovetoconfirmthisbird’sgender, sotheyareaskingobserversupanddown the coast to keep an eye out for a plover withgreen-over-orangecolorbandson bothlegsandtodocumentanybreeding ornestingbehavior.Birderswhoscrutinizesmallshorebirdsonbeachesthisfall canhelpbyreportingcolor-bandcombinations they see (at pointblue.org) — perhapshelpingtosolveasnowyplover mystery. [Claire Peaslee]
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Ask the Naturalist m i c h a e l Q:Icollectrainwatertouseonmygardenand I’vefoundPacificchorusfrogsintheblackgarbage canthatcollectstherainwater,butI’veneverseen eggsortadpolesinthere.Iwonderwhynot;would theybetoosmalltosee?[Marian,SanJose] A:AndIalwaysthoughttheywerecalled treefrogs!Actually,thingsgotconfusing in 2006 when scientists split the Pacific treefrogintothreeseparatespecies.The scientificnameforourlocalspecieswas changedtoPseudacrissierra(thoughthere isstillscientificdebateaboutthatpending more dna research) and there are nowtwoacceptedcommonnamesfor thelocals:Pacificchorusfrog(thenewer name) or treefrog. I still call them“treefrogs,”eventhoughtheyaremorelikely to be found low in the grass or on the groundclosetowater.Theydohavethe abilitytoclimbanything,includingtrees and grasses: An extra joint in the toes givesthemgreatdexterityandtheability to adhere to slick surfaces. Whatever we call them, these frogs arethemostabundantamphibianinthe American West, found not only in your rainwatercan(andgoodforyou!)butin roadsideditches,farmponds,etc.They range from British Columbia south to BajaandeastallthewaytoMontanaand from sea level up to 10,000 feet. The adults come in brown or green and every shade betwixt and have the phenomenalabilitytochangebetween thosecolors overa periodof time.They usespecialpigment-containingcellson thesurfaceoftheskincalledchromatophorestoachievethisremarkablefeat. But regardless of its color phase, each frog has a dark stripe running from the shoulder through the eye to the tip of the nose, which helps even the novice amphibiophileidentifythecritter.They arealsothesmallestofournativefrogs, atonetotwoinchesfromstemtostern. Theybreedduringourrainyseason, the activity peaking in February and March.Mostmatingtakesplaceatnight, whentheloud,rapidlyrepeatedkreck‑ek is the males calling, “I’m a male, I’m a
e l l i s male!Chooseme!Chooseme!Iwantto haveamplexuswithyou.”Amplexus,as you might have deduced, is the proper term for amphibian sex. Femaleschooseamalebasedonhis singingabilityandsize(yes,theyprefer biggermales).Whenthemalegraspsthe femalefrombehinditstimulatesherto depositeggsonsubmergedvegetation. Themalereleasesspermandinseminates theeggsexternally.Theeggs,eachabout aquarter-inchacross,attachtovegetation in bunches of half a dozen to 80 eggs. And therein might lie the problem: There may be no suitable place to lay thoseeggsinyourgarbagecan.Hence the lack of tadpoles (which would definitelybelargeenoughforyoutosee)and new froglets. Next February put a leafy branchinthecanandwatchforeggsand tadpoles. Let us know how it goes. Gotaquestion?baynature.org/ask-the-naturalist
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Noticias de CUHW
es y a nuestro personal político, y asegure de que se nos haya dañado o se haya uidado en los servicios de los individuos que abusado de nosotros mentalmente. un mundo viven y respiran la política durante este atrapados tiempo critico en la historia del cuidado •Merecemos el derecho de que e, nuestra del hogar a nivel Federal y Estatal. se nos pague bajo el esquema del os a otros CUHW, al salir de la burbuja, Seguro Social por una vida de trabajo dor, usted emerge con nuevas ideas ahora que por un miembro de la familia. manda que estamos en período electoral este sted es un agosto. Nuestras elecciones estatales •Merecemos vacaciones pagadas, ed vive en incluirán dos semanas en las que merecemos el derecho de que se nos u relación puede votar en línea o llamando trate con compasión y respeto por las veedor de a un número sin costo, usando su familiar, número de celular o un teléfono fijo. diferente. Una vez más nos salimos de nuestra años y burbuja, hemos lanzado un Programa proveedor de Voluntariado de Incentivos de marcar un hasta aquí, de nuevo, ar, pero para ofrecer descuentos a nuestros sobre el rompiendo la burbuja del pasado, miembros en los negocios al mostrar ador de siempre avanzando acercándonos, sus tarjetas del Sindicatolo cual emas que representa un ganar-ganar para todos. Let the Earth turn. Watch the methane clouds lap the poles at http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/vis/a000000/a001000/a001020/ endientes Hemos establecido oficinas Landfilling is the largest human-generated source methane clouds at the melting poles. Don’t extraño. en más de 9 dethe nuestros condados. of methane, a greenhouse gas 17–100 times more waste discards. UHW, ha La mayoría de las oficinas tienenThey’re resources that were cut or ya durante bancos the de llamadas capacidadmade into something, and shipped potent than CO2. The shorter the timespan, mined,y refined, ención de de difusión de web y cuentan con Nearly all materials can be higher the number. Much more is produced and around the world. gidosescapes por grandes pantallas. Contamos into the air while filling the landfill than recovered andcon reused, recycled, or composted a Loretta otra acción que es también otra well. Reuse and recycle at home can beconforme captured after equipment is in place. Watch today – if handled continuamos construyendo burbuja que se rompe, y estas son las campaña NASA’s 1999 animation the Futuro” Earth; green shows and at work. Talk about it to your friends. el “Puente Hacia un of Mejor ndado de actualizaciones por email y mensajes dificultades que enfrentamos en nuestros Estamos reventando la dico yUrban los Ore salvages texto que alertan a los miembros de for reuse at Berkeley’s transferde station. People burbuja cuando nuestro Comité los últimos acontecimientos de IHSS. trabajos por una paga justa, beneficios dores.also Enbring us things and call for pickups. We conserve about médicos y oportunidades de educación, de Constitución sugiere un cambio un grupo 7,000 tons a year and sell the reusable goods in retail sales.Yo personalmente quiero al igual que las otras fuerzas de trabajo. que combine el espacio de nuestro salirme de la burbuja To en End Age of Waste sidoWe’re los open la the que se until 7:00PM (receiving closes at 5:00) 360 days a year h t t p : //u r b Secretario Tesorero y que cree una nueva uecidoatsus considera la reforma de IHSS ena n o r e . c o m 900 Murray, near Ashby @ 7th, Berkeley. ¡No solamente lo merecemos, posición, Vicepresidente segundo. El plan para California y sugiero que empecemos con
“CUHW está rompiendo todos los mitos al enfocarse en los miembros.”
Published on Sep 30, 2013
Published on Sep 30, 2013
For fall 2013, Bay Nature uncovers secrets in the Monterey Shale (under a condor’s watchful eye), reveals the natural history of struggling...