Archive for the ‘introduced species’ Category


November 13, 2017

The city in 1864:SF AERIAL--1864Lake Merced, 1868:lake-merced-1868

Plowing the dunes in preparing to create Golden Gate Park, 1870s:GGP-plowing-dunes

1875 map:sf 1875

The city in 1877, looking south over Telegraph Hill:sf--1877

Golden Gate Park as trees take root, 1880, along Ocean Beach:GGP-1880San Francisco, 1890:SF--1890

Golden Gate Park, 1892, for Mid-winter Exposition:GG PARK 18921897 map:sf 1897San Francisco before earthquake:OLD WATERFRONTCutting through sand hill to make Second Street near Rincon Point, before 1900.Second-Street-Cut-1869-A12.28.752nLiving with sand after earthquake:sand hillsTheodore Wores’ painting of dunes looking across to Lake Merced in early 1900s, lupine in bloom where houses now stand:1914San-Francisco-Sand-Dunes-and-Lake-merced

1914, as automobiles begin to dominate the city:sf aeriaL--1914Lake Merced Boulevard construction:LakeMercedBlvdConstruction

Fort Funston, preparing for war. Below that is Lake Merced at top of image with the peninsula leading to today’s golf course visible:Ft_Funston_Cantonment_Areafunston2

Sunset District just after WW2:Sunset_dunes_1947Richmond District today, note the small pockets of private open space between houses:richmond aerialrichmond aerial2Lake Merced today:merced todaySan-Francisco-Natural-Heritage-Map



November 13, 2017

The Ohlone managed the landscape through use of fire. They traveled on the bay in tule canoes:

ohlone boatOHLONE FIREOhlone village sites:Ohlone_villages-mapohlone1ohlone3Pre-colonial landscape:IMG_1964

Capt. Beechey’s map from 1826-7:sf mapJust before the Gold Rush:early yerba buena town
First United States map of San Francisco, before Gold Rush.sf1848

1849, Gold Rush boomtown and bay fillearly mapearlysf1early-yerba-buena YB PORTSan Francisco viewed from Yerba Buena Island, circa 1850.SF from YB

1851 and the ships abandoned by crews

1851MapSF-1851YB PORT2YB PORT3YB PORT4San Francisco in 1852:SF DURING GOLD RUSH-18521855 view of city from Rincon Point:SF FROM RINCON PT-1855South of Market developed despite the natural landscape and marshes:soma yesterday



November 1, 2017

For any non-avian species you can record your sighting on this website:

The best place to record your bird sightings is on:


October 2, 2017


abalone (Haliotis sp.)
Acmon blue butterfly (Plebejus acmon)
Acorn Woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorus)
albacore (Thunnus alalunga)
Albatross, Black-footed (Phoebastria nigripes)
American Avocet (Recurvirostra americana)
American cockroach (Periplaneta Americana)
American Coot (Fulica americana)
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)
American Kestrel (Falco sparverius)
American Pipit (Anthus rubescens)
American Robin (Turdua migratorius)
American Wigeon (Anas americana)
anchovy (Engraulidae family)
Anna’s Hummingbird (Calypta anna)
ant, Argentine (Iridomynmex humilis)
ant, harvester (Messor andrei)
ant, harvester (Pheidole californica)
ant, southern fire (Solenopsis xyloni)
aplodontia also mountain beaver (Aplodontia rufa ssp. californica.)
arboreal salamander (Aneides lugubris)
arrow goby  (Clevelandia ios)
Ashy Storm-Petrel (Oceanodroma homochroa)
Asian jumping earthworms or snake worms (Amynthas agrestis, A. tokioensis, and Metaphire hilgendorfi)
Australian hare also brown hare (Lepus capensis)
badger, American (Taxidea taxus)
Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)
banana slug (Ariolimas sp.)
Band-tailed Pigeon (Patagioenas fasciata)
Bank Swallow (Riparia riparia)
bark beetle also mountain pine beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae)
Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)
barnacles (Mitella polymerus)
beaver (Castor canadensis)
bedbug (Cimex lectularius)
Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon)
bison, American (Bison bison)
Bewick’s Wren (Thryomanes bewickii)
bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis)
Bittern, American (Botaurus lentiginosus)
Bittern, Least (Ixobrychus exilis)
black abalone (Haliotis cracherodii)
black bear (Ursus americanus)
Black Osytercatcher (Haematopus bachmani)
Black Phoebe (Sayornis nigricans)
black rat also roof rat (Rattus rattus)
Black Scoter (Melanitta americana)
Black Turnstone (Arenaria melanocephala)
blackbirds  (Icterus sp.)
Black-headed Grosbeak (Pheucticus melanocephalus)
blacktail bay shrimp (Crangon nigricauda)
black-tailed deer (Odocoileus hemionus)
black-tailed jackrabbits (Lepus californicus)
Black-throated Magpie-jay(Calocitta colliei)
blue whale formerly Sulphur bottom whale (Balaenoptera musculus)
bobcat (Lynx rufus)
Bonaparte’s Gull (Chroicocephalus Philadelphia)
Botta’s pocket gopher (Thomonys bottae)
Brandt’s Cormorant (Phalacrocorax penicillatus)
Brewer’s Blackbird (Euphagus cyanocephalus)
brown rat also Norway rat or sewer rat (Rattus norvegicus)
Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater)
brush rabbit (Sylvilagus bachmani)
Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola)
bullfrog, American (Lithobates catesbeianus)
Bullock’s Oriole (Icterus bullockii)
Burrowing Owl (Athene cunicularia)
cabbage moth (Mamestra brassicae)
California Condor (Gymnogyps californianus)
California ground squirrel (Spermophilus beecheyi)
California Gull  (Larus californicus)
California kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula californiae)
California newt ( Taricha torosa)
California oyster (Ostrea lurida)
California Partridge (Callipepla californica)
California Quail also crested partridge (Tetrix cristatus)
California Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica)
California sea lion (Zalophus californianus)
California sheephead (Semicossyphus pulcher)
California slender salamander (Batrachoseps attenuates)
California toad (Anaxyrus boeas halophilus)
California Thrasher (Toxostoma redivivum)
Canada Goose (Branta Canadensis)
Caspian Tern (Hydroprogne caspia)
Cassin’s Auklet (Ptychoramphus aleuticus)
Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum)
cheekspot goby (Ilypnus gilberti)
chiton (class  Polyplacophora)
Cinnamon Teal (Anas cyanoptera)                          
Clark’s Grebe (Aechmophorus clarkia)
Cliff Swallow (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota)
cockles (Clinocardium nuttallii)
coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch)
common dolphin (Delphinus sp.)
Common Loon (Gavia immer)
Common Merganser (Mergus merganser)
Common Raven (Corvus corax)
Common Yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas)
Cooper’s Hawk (Accipiter cooperii)
cormorants (Pelecanus sp.)
cougar (Puma concolor)
cow (Bos taurus)
coyote (Canis latrans)
Curlew, Long-billed also curlieus (Numenius americanus)
Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis)
deer, mule or black-tailed (Odocoileus hemionus)
dog (Canis lupus familiaris)
Douglas squirrel (Tamiasciurus douglasii)
Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus)
Dungeness crab (Metacarcinus magister)
eastern fox squirrel (Sciurus niger)
eastern gray squirrel (Sciurus griseus)
Elegant Tern (Thalasseus elegans)
elephant seal, northern, also sea elephant (Mirounga angustirostris)
elk (Cervus elaphus)
Eurasian Collared-Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)
European green crab also shore crab (Carcinus maenas)
finback whale also fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus)
fleas (order Siphonaptera)
Flicker, Northern (Picus auratus)
frog, red-legged (Rana draytonii)
fur seal (Callorhinus ursinus)
garden snail (Cornu aspersum),(Cantareus asperses) or (Cryptomphalus asperses)
goat, domestic (Capra aegagrus hircus)
Godwit, Marbled (Limosa fedoa)
gopher snake (Pituophis catenifer)
gray whale (Eschrichtius robustus)
Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)
Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus)
Great-tailed Grackle (Quiscalus mexicanus)
Green-winged Teal (Anas carolinensis)
grizzly bear (Ursus arctos californicus) now extinct in California
ground squirrel (Spermophilus beecheyi)
gypsy moth (Lymantria dispar dispar)
hammerhead shark (family Sphyrnidae)
harbor seal (Phoca vitulina)
Harlequin Duck (Histrionicus histrionicus)
Heermann’s Gull (Larus heermanni)
Hermit Thrush (Catharus guttatus)
Herring Gull, American also Smithsonian Gull (Larus smithsonianus)
hoary bat (Lasiurus cinereus)
honeybee mite (Varroa destructor)
Hooded Oriole (Icterus cucullatus)
horse (Equus ferus caballus)
house cat (Felis catus)
House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus)
house mouse (Mus musculus)
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)
hump-backed whale (Megaptera novaengliae)
Hutton’s Vireo (Vireo huttoni)
jackrabbit, black-tailed (Lepus californicus)
Japanese beetle (Popillia japonica)
Killdeer (Charadrius vociferous)
Kumamoto oyster (Crassostrea sikamea)
lamprey (order Petromyzontiformes)
lark (Alauda sp. )
Lazuli Bunting (Passerina amoena)
Leach’s Storm-Petrel (Oceanodroma leucorhoa)
Least Sandpiper (Calidris minutilla)
Least Tern (Sternula antillarum)
Lesser Goldfinch (Spinus psaltria)
Lesser Scaup (Aythya affinis)                                                       
lingcod (Ophiodon elongates)
long-tailed weasel (Mustela frenata)
Magpie, Yellow-billed (Pica nuttalli)
mahi mahi (Coryphaena hippurus)
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)
Marsh Wren (Cistothorus palustris)
mergansers (Mergus sp.)
mission blue butterfly (Icaricia icarioides missionensis)
mole (Scapanus sp.)
monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus)
mountain beaver (Aplodontia rufa)
Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)
mussels (Mytilus californianus, Mytilus edulis)
New Zealand mud snail (Potamopyrgus antipodarum)
northern bluet (Enallagma annexum)
Northern Fulmar (Fulmarus glacialis)
Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos)
Northern Pintail (Anas acuta)
Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)
Nuttall’s Woodpecker (Picoides nuttallii)
Oak Titmouse (Baeolophus inornatus)
ocean sunfish (Mola mola)
opossum (Didelphis virginiana)
oriental shrimp (Palaeamon macrodactylus)
Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)
oyster, Atlantic or eastern (Crassostrea virginica)
oyster, Olympic (Ostrea conchaphila or lurida)
oyster, Pacific or Japanese (Crassostrea gigas)
Pacific-slope Flycatcher (Empidonax difficilis)
Pacific Loon (Gavia pacifica)
Pacific pond turtle (Actinemys marmorata)
Pacific tree frog also Pacific chorus frog (Hyla regilla)
Parasitic Jaeger (Stercorarius parasiticus)
Pelagic Cormorant (Phalacrocorax pelagicus)
Pelican, Brown (Pelecanus occidentalis)
Peregrine (Falco peregrinus)
Pigeon Guillemot (Cepphus Columba)
Pigeon, Rock, also Feral Pigeon (Columba livia)
Pine Siskin (Spinus pinus)
Plover, Semipalmated (Charadrius semipalmatus)
pocket gopher (Thomomys bottae)
Prairie Falcon (Falco mexicanus)
pronghorn (Antilocapra Americana)
Raccoon (Procyon lotor)
rainwater killifish (Luciana parva)
rat, black (Rattus rattus)
rat, brown (Rattus norvegicus)
red fox (Vulpes vulpes)
Red-breasted Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus ruber)
Red-eared Slider (Trachemys scripta)
red-legged frog (Rana aurora draytonii)
Red-necked Grebe (Podiceps grisegena)
Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus)
Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)
Red-throated Loon (Gavia stellata)
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)
Rhinoceros Auklet (Cerorhinca monocerata)
Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis)
ring-necked snake (Diadophis punctatus)
river otter (Lutra Canadensis)
rock cod (Lotella rhacina)
Rock Wren (Salpinctes obsoletus)
Ruddy Duck (Oxyura jamaicensis)
San Bruno elfin butterfly (Incisalia mossii bayensis)
San Francisco garter snake (Thamnophis sirtalis tetrataenia)
Sandhill Crane (Grus Canadensis)
Sanderling (Calidris alba)
sandpiper  (Tring asp.)
Savannah Sparrow  (Passerculus sandwichensis)
sea otter (Enhydra lutris)
sea urchin  (Strongylocrentrotus purpusatus)
sheep (Ovis aries)
shrew (family Soricidae)
Sierra Nevada red fox (Vulpes vulpes necator)
smelt (family Osmeridae)
Snipe, Wilson’s (Gallinago delicata)
Snowy Plover (Charadrius nivosus)
Sooty Shearwater (Ardenna grisea)
sperm whale (Physeter microcephalus)
Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus)
spotted-wing vinegar fly (Drosophila suzukii)
squirrel, Douglas (Tamiasciurus douglasii)
squirrel, Eastern fox, or red (Sciurus niger)
squirrel, Eastern gray (Sciurus carolinensis)
squirrel, western gray (Sciurus griseus)
staghorn sculpin (Leptocottus armatus)
Steller’s Jay (Cyanocitta stelleri)
Steller’s sea cow (Hydrodamalis gigas) now extinct
striped bass (Morone saxatilis)
Striped skunk also polecat (Mephitis mephitis)
sturgeon (Acipenser sp.)
Surfbird (Aphriza virgata)
Swainson’s Thrush (Catharus ustulatus)
three-spined stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus)
topsmelt (Atherinops affinis)
Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor)
Tufted Puffin (Fratercula cirrhata)
tule elk (Cervus elaphus nannodes)
Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)
turtle, Pacific Pond or Northern Western Pond (Actinemys marmorata)
Violet-Green Swallow (Tachycineta thalassina)
Wandering Tattler (Tringa incana)
Warbling Vireo (Vireo gilvus)
Western Grebe (Aechmophorus occidentalis)
Western Gull (Larus occidentalis)
Western Kingbird  (Tyrannus verticalis)
Western Meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta)
western rattlesnake (Crotalus oreganus)
Western Sandpiper (Calidris mauri)
Western Tanager (Piranga ludoviciana)
Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus)
white abalone (Haliotes sorenseni)
White-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys)
White-throated Swift (Aeronautes saxatalis)
White-winged Scoter (Anas perspicillata)
Willet (Tringa semipalmata)
Wilson’s Warbler (Cardellina pusilla)
Wood Duck (Aix sponsa)
wolf also timber wolf (Canis lupus)
wood rat (Neotoma albigula)
Wrentit (Chamaea fasciata)
Xerces blue (Glaucopsyche xerces) now extinct
yellow shorecrab (Hemigrapsus oregonensis)
Yellow Warbler (Setophaga petechial)
yellowfin goby (Acanthogobius flavimanus)


acacia (Albizia lopantha)
alkali heath (Frankenia salina)
American dunegrass (Leymus mollis)
American elm (Ulmus americana)
arroyo willow (Salix lasiolepis)
Atlantic cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora)
azalea (Rhododendron sp.)
bay laurel Umbellularia californica)
beachburr also silver burr ragweed

(Ambrosia chamissonis)

beach morning glory (Calystegia soldanella)
beach or coastal sagewort (Artemisia pycnocephala)
beach suncup or beach evening primrose (Camissonia cheiranthifolia)
bent grass (Agrostis microphylla)
Bermuda buttercup also sourgrass (Oxalisa pes-caprae or Oxalis cernua)
black mustard (Brassica nigra)
blackberry, Himalayan (Rubus discolor)
blue blossom ceanothous (Ceanothus thyrsiflorus)
blue elderberry (Sambucus cerulea)
broadleaf cattail (Typha latifolia)
buckwheats (Eriogonum sp.)
California aster (Lessingia filaginifolia)
California blackberry (Rubus ursinus)
California buckeye (Aesculus californica)
California buttercup (Ranunculus californicus)
California cordgrass (Spartina foliosa)
California hazel (Corylus cornuta)
California laurel (Umbellularia californica)
California polypody (Polypodium californicum)
California poppy (Eschscholzia californica)
California rose (Rosa Californica)
California sagebrush (Artemesia californica)
California sea lavender (Limonium californicum)
cape ivy or German ivy (Delairea odorata)
cinquefoil (Potentilla anserina)
clarkia (Clarkia sp.)
clovers (Trifolium sp.)
coast buckwheat (Eriogonum parvifolium)


coffeeberry (Rhamnus californica)
common scouring rush (Equisetum hyemale)


common montia or miner’s lettuce (Montia chamissoi)
coast live oak (Quercus agrifolia)
coyote brush (Baccharis pilularis)
crimson columbine (Aquilegia formosa)
Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii)
Douglas iris (Iris douglasiana)
dune gilia (Gilia capitata ssp. chamissonis)
dune tansy (Tanacetum camphoratum)
Dutchman’s pipe (Aristolochia californica)
dwarf flax (Hesperolinon congestum)
eel grass (Zostera marina)
English ivy (Hedera helix)
European beachgrass (Ammophila arenaria)
fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)
filaree (Erodium cicutyarium)
fleshy jaumea (Jaumea carnosa)
Franciscan manzanita  (Arctostaphylos hookeri ssp. Ravenii):endangered
Franciscan manzanita (Arctostaphylos hookeri ssp. franciscanum)
French broom (Genista monspessulana)
geranium (Geranium sp.)
giant horsetail (Equisetum telmateia)
giant scouring rush (Equisetum hyemale)
goldenrod (Solidago sp.)
golden yarrow (Eriophyllum conferiflorum)
gooseberry, California (Ribes aureum)
gum plant (Grindelia hirsutula)
hawthorn (Crataegus douglasii)
hollyhock (Alcea sp.)
hollyleaf cherry (Prunus ilicifolia)
honeysuckle, pink, also California honeysuckle (Lornicera hispidula)
iceplant, heartleaf  (Aptenai cordifolia)
iceplant, also hottentot fig. (Carpobrotus edulis)
Johnny jump up (Viola pedunculata)


kelp family of plants, Laminariales
lupine, dune (Lupinus chamissonis)
manzanita (Arctostaphylos)
Mexican tea also wormwood (Dysphania ambrosioides)
milkweed (Asclepias sp.)
mission bells, or chocolate lily (Fritillaria affinis)
Monterey cypress (Cupressus macrocarpa)
Monterey pine (pinus radiata)
mugwort (Artemisia sp.)


nasturtium (Tropaeolum)
New Zealand spinach (Tetragonia tetragonioides)
Pacific madrone (Arbutus menziesii)
Pacific reedgrass (Calamagrostis nutkaensis)
pampas grass (Cortaderia jubata)
periwinkle (Vinca major)
phlox family (Gilia clivorum)
pickleweed also Pacific swampfire (Salicornia pacifica)
pink sand-verbena (Abronia umbellata)
pittosporum (Pittosporum sp.)
poison hemlock (Conium maculatum)
poison oak (Toxicodendrum diversiloba)
ponderosa pine also western yellow pine (pinus ponderosa)
Presidio clarkia (Clarkia franciscana)
purple needlegrass (Nassella pulchra or Stipa pulchra)
purplespot gilia (Gilia clivorum)
radish (Raphanus sativus)
red flowering currant also pink flowering currant (Ribes sanguineum)
red maple (Acer rubrum)
redwood also California or coastal redwood (Sequoia sempervirens)
rhododendron (Rhododendron sp.)
rushes (Juncus sp.)
Russian olive (Elaeagnus angustifolia)
salt grass (Distichlis spicata)
San Francisco lessingia (Lessingia germanorum)
San Francisco spineflower (Chorizanthe cuspidata)
San Francisco wallflower (Erysimum franciscanum)
seafig (Azioaceae family)
seaside plantain  (Plantago maritima)
seaside woolly sunflower (Eriophyllum staechadifolium)
sedge (Carex genus)
sedges ( Scripus genus)
shortleaf dwarf cudweed (Herperevax sparsiflora)
silk tassel bush (Garrya elliptica)
silver beachburr, silver (Abrosia chamissonis)
silvery lupine (Lupinus argentus)
snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus)
southernwood (Artemisia abrotanum)
spear oracle (Atriplex patula)
spear scale (Atriplex triangularis)
spearscale  (Extriplex joaquinana)
starthistle (Centaurea solstitialis)
sticky monkey flower (Mimulus aurantiacus)
stinging nettles
strawberries (Fragaria chiloensis)
thimbleberry (Rubus parviflorus)



tobacco root plant (valeriana edulis)
toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia)
tules (Schoenoplectus acutus)
tulip tree (Liriodendron sp.)
twinberry honeysuckle (Lonicera involucrata, var. ledebourii)
water parsley
water smartweed (Polygonum amphibium var. emersum)
watercress (Nasturtium officianale)
water mint (Mentha aquatic)
wax myrtle (Myrica californica)
western bracken (Pteridium aquilinum)
white oak, California, also Garry oak (Quecus garryana)
wild carrot (Daucus carota)
wild currant (Ribes sp.)
wild oats or cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum)
wild or sweet fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)
willow (Salix spp.)
yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
yellow bush lupine (Lupinus arboreus)
yellow sand-verbena (Abronia latifolia)
yellow-eyed grass (Xyris L.)
yerba buena  () p.17
yerba buena (Clinopodium douglasii or Micromeria douglasii). (formerly classified: Satureja douglasii and Micromeria chamissonis)





September 10, 2017

Thousands of scientists from around the globe are warning us to pay attention and change our ways.  This isn’t about some promise of heaven in the by-and-by.  This is a warning about hell here on earth, man-made.   Now that the U.S. is the only nation on earth not pledged to deal with climate change, there is some faint glimmer of hope.  But in the 25 years since the first such communal warning from science most trends have been negative.  Too many people, habitat destruction is rampant, fresh water depleted.  The nations of the earth did deal with ozone depletion, but that was a problem that didn’t threaten oil companies, coal mining, global shipping, airplane travel, fracking or use of pesticides by industrial agriculture.  In a word, it was fairly simple: don’t use that chemical, use this one.  We can’t even keep from poisoning one another with sugared drinks and opioids, how are we seriously going to stop population growth, chemical-based food production and depletion of forest and ocean?

Extinction does not make exceptions.

Human-caused toxic algae blooms. One culprit: fertilizers.

2017 National Climate Assessment from U.S. agencies.

Sea level rise, temperature rise and sunken cities of the future.

The great British environmental reporter on “INSECTAGEDDON.”

Bedbugs even make airplane rides.  Aren’t you itching to read about that?

Climate change: the modern world as a massive killing field.

Limpets, climate change and health of marine ecosystems.

Will the 1017-8 Dungeness Crab season be a safe one?

Warmer soil loses carbon to the atmosphere as global warming produces this negative feedback loop of more carbon into the air.

Neonicotinoids are contaminating bees and their honey around the world.  Bee-saster in the the making.

Click here for information on the herpes epidemic attacking commercial oyster beds using Asian oyster species.  The herpes microbes have been found in some oysters in California, not the native oysters.

Click here for info on Monsanto’s latest powerful poison and one state’s fight to prevent its use.

How bad can global warming extinctions become?

San Francisco’s Natural History

April 20, 2017

To be published in November, 2017:
FROM SAND DUNES TO STREETCARS69644847_Kindle Ready Front Cover JPEG_7303473

This book will sell for $25 plus shipping of approximately $3.20.  I am hoping it will be available in selected San Francisco book stores.  It will also be available as both a paperback and Kindle book from Amazon.

This book traces the changes in San Francisco’s landscape from the days of the Ohlone to the present.  What native species were present when only Native Americans lived here? What animal grazed, flew or swam here? In the wild countryside what natural waterways supported life?  What trees, fruits, and flowering plants would the Ohlone have known and used?  And…what happened to all that after the Europeans arrived? It’s a dramatic cascade of changes, filled with disappearance and devastation, ruin, restoration and rebirth.  As the centuries passed and the cityscape developed and changed, so has the natural landscape and the creatures in it, including us–humans, whose values and actions have altered and shaped everything.

In spite of what amounts to obliteration of the old natural environment, many native species survive and even thrive in the modern city.  “Life” here includes wildlife. Contemporary restoration projects mover forward.  Brown Pelicans and coyotes have been joined by new immigrants like collared-doves and eastern gray squirrels.  Forests of introduced trees today host Red-shouldered Hawks and Hooded Orioles. And yet, there is not stasis and never has been. Now comes climate change.  All is flux.

Through this book, I hope to help provide knowledge and perspective on what has gone before, but also what we now face.  To protect and preserve this peninsula, this beautiful piece of our planet, the decisions we humans must make are not just cosmetic, they are matters of life and death.  People must understand what’s happened and what’s happening in order to avoid repeating devastating mistakes of the past, and in order to proceed wisely and humanely into the future. From open space to micro-plastic pollution, the decisions rest with us.


The want of sufficient level space on which to found so great and growing a city, has been partially rectified, at an enormous expense, by taking building ground from the waters, and by lowering, and in many cases absolutely removing bodily the multitude of sand hills, by which the place is immediately surrounded. What with digging out and filling up, piling, capping and planking, grading and regrading the streets, and shifting, and rebuilding, and again rebuilding the houses, to suit the altered levels, millions upon millions of dollars have been spent.                                       –Frank Soule, et al., The Annals of San Francisco, 1855


Nature’s plan has evolved through millions of years while man’s plans for the earth cover a short span of time and are very often both selfish and short-sighted.
–Helen Cruickshank, Thoreau’s Birds, 1964


Captain Jean François de La Perouse from France was the first European from outside the Spanish Empire to visit California after the founding of the missions and pueblos. In September 1786, he spent time in Monterey. About Monterey Bay he wrote: “It is impossible to describe the number of whales with which we were surrounded, or their familiarity. They spouted every half minute within pistol shot of our frigates, and caused a most annoying stench. We were unacquainted with this property in the whale, but the inhabitants informed us that the water thrown out by them is impregnated with this offensive smell.”


            In 1792–1793, Archibald Menzies, the medical officer for the British Expedition, headed by Captain George Vancouver, was immediately taken with the dramatic “broad sheet of water” that is the bay, described in the epigraph to this chapter. The observations by Menzies and other expedition crew are valuable as baseline information about how the area was changed over the decades that followed their visit. During their stay in the fall of 1792, the British sailors reported a large number of waterfowl in the marsh that is now Crissy Field. Menzies describes the area between Fort Mason and Fort Point as a “low track of Marshy Land along shore, with some Salt Water Lagoons that were supplied by the overflowings of high Tides and oozings through the Sandy Beach: on these we saw abundance of Ducks and wild Geese…”  Vancouver mentions large livestock flocks. He is visiting in 1792, less than two decades after the first colonists arrived from Mexico. Yet, already hundreds of domestic animals are ranging across a fragile landscape.


1820   Estimated 200,000 northern fur seals killed for their pelts.

1932  First Mockingbird sighted in San Francisco.


One of the few surface streams still to be seen in San Francisco runs down Glen Canyon. It constitutes the headwaters of Precita Creek, which joins Islais Creek, named from the Ohlone word for hollyleaf cherry… In 1869 America’s first dynamite factory, the Giant Powder Company, blew up in Glen Canyon. Also, in the late 1800s, the canyon, then known as Rock Gulch, supported a private zoo and amusement park.


San Francisco’s original grasslands and coastal scrub are almost gone. Most grassland fell before invasive plants, pavement, housing, and other heavy use. A large swath of coastal prairie in McLaren Park became Gleneagles Golf Course. Fortunately, a parcel of nearly natural habitat survives on the eastern slope of Mount Davidson.


Farallones: Research over the past four decades by Point Blue has shown that Common Murres are now breeding earlier in the year, in response to climate change and its effects on upwelling in the California current.


Golden Gate Park: In 1870, when this land was set aside by the city government for a park, it was largely sand dunes. Before it was landscaped and planted, there were a few willow-bordered lakes on the site, some squatters in residence, and scattered oak groves in sheltered areas furthest from the windy beach. The most respected landscape expert at the time was Frederick Law Olmsted, designer of New York’s Central Park. He warned San Francisco these lands outside the city limits were not suitable for a proper urban, forested park. Olmsted’s conclusion about a park in the city was part cautionary, part damning: “There is not a full grown tree of beautiful proportions near San Francisco, nor have I seen any young trees that promise fairly, except, perhaps, of certain compact clump forms of evergreens, wholly wanting in grace and cheerfulness. It would not be wise nor safe to undertake to form a park upon any plan which assumed as a certainty that trees which would delight the eye can be made to grow near San Francisco.”


In 2010, the public had no idea that harmful micro-beads of plastic were being put into many consumer products and we were all guilty of spreading them across the planet. The San Francisco Estuary Institute and its partners are now studying the presence of micro-plastics and nano-plastics in San Francisco Bay. This research is being led by Dr. Rebecca Sutton. Her preliminary study found the bay was more contaminated by plastic than the Great Lakes or Chesapeake Bay.


Perhaps most threatening are a group of invasive Asian earthworms first identified on the East Coast and found in Oregon in 2016. The risk from these invaders is that they feed on the surface material in forests, quickly turning leaf litter and fallen plant matter into worm food and then feces. They drive out nondestructive worm species and clear the soil for erosion and desiccation, weakening forests trying to survive climate change and drought.


Climate change: Just how bad can this get?  A scientific look back at a previous die-off caused by ocean acidification brings up terrifying images if you value any currently living creature.  Volcanologist Seth Burgess studied the geological and biological changes that took place at the end of the Permian period about 250-255 million years ago.  It wasn’t simply the end of a geological age, it was the end of most living organisms.  Fossil records show that 90% of all ocean organisms and 70% of those on land went extinct. Trees and coral reefs disappeared.