Golden Gate National Recreation Area - California
The Golden Gate National Recreation Area is a U.S. National Recreation Area protecting 82,027 acres of ecologically and historically significant landscapes surrounding the San Francisco Bay Area.
maps Golden Gate - Overview
Official visitor map of Golden Gate National Recreation Area (NRA) in California. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).
Golden Gate - North
Official visitor map of the Northern area of Golden Gate National Recreation Area (NRA) in California. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).
Golden Gate - South
Official visitor map of the Southern area of Golden Gate National Recreation Area (NRA) in California. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).
Golden Gate - Lands End
Visitor Map of Lands End at Golden Gate National Recreation Area (NRA) in California. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).
Golden Gate - Fort Mason
Visitor Map of Fort Mason at Golden Gate National Recreation Area (NRA) in California. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).
Golden Gate - Fort Baker
Visitor Map of Fort Baker at Golden Gate National Recreation Area (NRA) in California. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).
Golden Gate - Point Bonita
Visitor Map of Point Bonita at Marin Headlands at Golden Gate National Recreation Area (NRA) in California. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).
Golden Gate - Marin Headlands
Visitor Map of Marin Headlands at Golden Gate National Recreation Area (NRA) in California. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).
Mother Lode - Boundary Map
Boundary Map of the Mother Lode BLM Field Office in California. Published by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
brochures Golden Gate - Brochure
Brochure of Golden Gate National Recreation Area (NRA) in California. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).
Golden Gate - Stinson Beach
Brochure of Stinson Beach at Golden Gate National Recreation Area (NRA) in California. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).
Golden Gate - Fort Barry History Tour
Brochure Fort Barry History Tour - An Army Post Standing Guard Over the Marin Headlands - at Golden Gate National Recreation Area (NRA) in California. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).
Golden Gate - Fort Cronkhite History Walk
Brochure Fort Cronkhite History Walk - A World War II Army Post That Helped Defend San Francisco - at Golden Gate National Recreation Area (NRA) in California. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).
The Golden Gate National Recreation Area is a U.S. National Recreation Area protecting 82,027 acres of ecologically and historically significant landscapes surrounding the San Francisco Bay Area.
Experience a park so rich it supports 19 distinct ecosystems with over 2,000 plant and animal species. Go for a hike, enjoy a vista, have a picnic or learn about the centuries of overlapping history from California’s indigenous cultures, Spanish colonialism, the Mexican Republic, US military expansion and the growth of San Francisco. All of this and more awaits you, so get out and find your park.
Golden Gate National Recreation Area has many sites that span over 60 miles of mostly coastal areas north and south of San Francisco. Park areas can be reached by Highways 1, 101 and 280 from the north and south San Francisco Bay Area, and by Highway 80 from the East Bay. To access park headquarters at Fort Mason, please use the entrance at Franklin and Bay Streets in San Francisco.
Golden Gate Bridge Welcome Center
The plaza is the starting point for all your bridge-related adventures. From here, you can learn about the history of the bridge and its impact on the Bay Area with the help of interactive installations and models, including a cross-section of the bridge's main suspension cable. There is limited paid parking at the plaza, and we highly recommend that you take public transit.
Paid parking is extremely limited at the plaza. It's highly recommended that you take public transit to the plaza. Options from San Francisco: Downtown, at Main and Folsom or along Mission Street. (Routes 10, 70, and 101) Union Square, at 5th Street and Mission. (Routes 10, 70, and 101) Civic Center, at 7th Street and Market or McAllister and Polk Street. (Routes 10, 70, 92, 93, and 101) Along Fisherman's Wharf. (Routes 2, 4, 8, 18, 24, 27, 38, 44, 54, 56, 58, 72, 74, and 76) PresidiGo Shuttle
Lands End Lookout Visitor Center
Facilities include visitor information, cafe & gift shop. Exhibits: Indoor exhibits and videos on the natural and cultural history of the Lands End area, Sutro Baths and Sutro Heights. Outdoor 3-D model of Lands End area.
Located at the Merrie Way parking area just east of the Cliff House and west of the cross streets of Point Lobos Avenue (very west end of Geary Blvd.), and El Camino del Mar in San Francisco, California.
Muir Woods National Monument Visitor Center
Please visit gomuirwoods.com for reservations. Starting Saturday, May 28 our new operating hours will be 8:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. The Muir Woods Visitor Center is open 8:00 am to 30 minutes before the park closes.
From San Francisco Muir Woods is located 11 miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge Take Highway 101 North Take the Mill Valley/Highway 1/ Stinson Beach Exit Follow the signs to Highway 1 Follow the signs to Muir Woods From the East Bay Take the Highway 580/Richmond/San Rafael Bridge West Take Highway 101 South Take the Stinson Beach/Mill Valley Exit Follow the signs to Highway 1 Follow the signs to Muir Woods Vehicles over 35 feet long are prohibited. There are no RV parking facilities.
William Penn Mott Jr. Presidio Visitor Center
The visitor center is the go to place to find out what is happening and what there is to do in the Presidio. Discover the Presidio through a large relief map, inspiring video, engaging exhibitions on history and nature, interactive tools, and knowledgeable staff that can help you uncover the incredible array of experiences possible here.
Bicentennial Campground is the easiest to reach campground in Golden Gate, approximately 100 yards from the parking area near Battery Wallace. The campground is a great location for those wanting to camp near the city. There is a moderate short hill to climb to/from the campground from the parking area. It is downhill to the site and uphill back to the parking area. Open Year Round. $25.00/per campsite per night
Tent Only Nonelectric
Tent Only Site
Camping at Bicentennial
Campers make use of the food storage boxes and picnic tables at the campground.
Settling into the campground.
Campers sit contentedly at the picnic table with a gray sky above them.
Gray skies, happy campers.
Setting up camp
Campers set up a tent in a dry, grassy field with green cypresses behind them.
Setting up camp.
View of the Golden Gate Bridge
The view of the Golden Gate Bridge from the campground.
View of the Golden Gate
Enjoying the campsite
Campers have their tent set up next to a picnic table covered in food and supplies.
Ready to relax
Hawk Campground is the most remote campground and is located above Tennessee Valley and offers sweeping views of the Marin Headlands. The site is a 2.5 mile uphill hike from the Tennessee Valley Trailhead parking lot, or a 3.5 mile uphill hike from the Miwok Trailhead. There are 3 sites that can accommodate 4 people each. Maximum stay is three nights per year. Campsites are available March-November. $25.00/per campsite per night
View from Hawk Camp
Yellow wildflowers grow under a cloudy, blue sky.
The vista high atop Hawk Camp.
Walking the ridge.
Two hikers walk the ridge along the exposed fire road to Hawk Camp under a cloudy, blue sky.
Two hikers walk the fire road.
Tent at Hawk Camp
A gray and white single-person tent pitched at a campsite at Hawk Camp.
A campsite with cypress trees in the distance.
View from the top.
A trail winds its way along a ridge line next to a jagged stump under cloudy, blue skies.
The winding path from Hawk Camp.
Hikers on their way to Hawk Camp
Hikers walk along the trail that winds its way up a hill with green scrub plants on either side.
Walking up the ridge.
Haypress Campground is nestled within the coastal scrub of Tennessee Valley, near Mill Valley. The hike to this campground is 0.7 miles from the Tennessee Valley Trail head parking lot, and is an ideal campground for first-time backpackers. Haypress campers often enjoy hiking to Tennessee Beach, where they can admire its dramatic geology and colorful sand. Campground is open March-November. $25.00/per campsite per night
Overnight Site Fee
Primitive Group Campsite
Group Site Fee
Reservations for the group site at Haypress Campground, which can accommodate up to 25 people.
The lush green environs of Haypress with a slat-rail fence and blue tent in the foreground.
Fenced off campsite at Haypress.
Setting up camp
Campers sit at a picnic table next to a food storage box with their tent behind them.
Getting cozy at the campground.
A fence line disappears into the distance next to a green tent below a Eucalyptus stand.
Hiking to Haypress
Three hikers walk along the exposed trail to Haypress Campground under cloudy, blue skies.
Hiking to Haypress
A low wooden fence separates green grass.
A view of the group campsite at Haypress
Kirby Cove Campground
Kirby Cove is the most popular campground in the Marin Headlands, with spectacular views of San Francisco and the Golden Gate. Enjoy a wooded setting, seclusion and protected campsites which were recently restored for all to enjoy. Campsites are available for use only by prior reservation but anyone can walk down the road to enjoy the vistas and picnic on the bluffs or beach. Campground is open March-November. $40.00/per campsite per night.
Overnight Site Fee
Tent Only Nonelectric, each site can accommodate up to 10 people.
Group Picnic Fee
Group Picnic Area, a day-use only site that can accommodate up to 35 people.
A bleached piece of driftwood on the soft sand with gentle waves caressing the shoreline.
The sandy shore of Kirby Cove.
Kirby Cove at night
A colorful display of the Golden Gate Bridge lit up against the purple and blue night sky.
Nighttime view of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Trees at the cove
A view of the Golden Gate Bridge through the trees at Kirby Cove.
The bridge through the trees.
City at sunset
San Francisco skyline against an orange sky and cloud cover framed below the Golden Gate Bridge.
City at sunset.
A group of campers sit around the orange glow of a campfire in a fire pit.
Morning Fog at Crissy Field
White buildings with red roofs at Crissy Field with blue bay and Golden Gate Bridge and fog behind.
Visiting Crissy Field is an ever changing experience as the fog comes in and dissipates.
Spring Flowers at Mori Point
Mori Point view north with yellow an blue flowers, the blue-green Pacific Ocean and Mt. Tamalpais.
View north from Mori Point showing abundant spring flowers and Mt. Tamalpais in the background.
Stinson Beach from Bolinas Ridge
View over the Pacific from Bolinas Ridge; Stinson Beach, Bolinas Lagoon and head in mid-ground.
Bolinas Ridge offers outstanding panaramas of the Pacific Coast, here including Stinson Beach and Lagoon.
Storm over the Golden Gate
Orange Golden Gate Bridge with waves crashing in foreground and storm clouds behind.
The Golden Gate Bridge is an iconic attraction year-round.
Marin Headlands and Rodeo Beach
View south with family on road in foreground and Rodeo Beach and cove in front of Point Bonita.
Trails in the Marin Headlands offer a fun and spectacular hiking experience for all.
Montgomery Street Barracks, Presidio of San Francisco
Row of red brick barracks with white-columned porches where infantry soldiers lived.
The Presidio offers an outdoor museum of military architecture over the centuries.
Alcatraz Island from Crissy Field
Closeup shot of Alcatraz Island showing lighthouse and prison with yellow flowers on slope in front.
Visitors can learn about the complex layered history of Alcatraz Island.
Golden Gate Bridge from Battery
Person jogging along a path with golden gate bridge in the background.
Golden Gate from Battery East
Military Nurses in the Philippines
During World War II, women signed up with the Army and Navy Nurse Corps for service in the Philippine Islands. Of the 99 nurses known to have served in or at Bataan, 22 escaped before the final fall of the Philippine Islands in 1942. The remaining 77, the largest group of women Prisoners of War in American history, were repatriated in 1945.
1945. U.S. Army Nurses climb into trucks as they leave Manila
Women of the Presidio
The Presidio impacted the lives of many people throughout its long history, including women like Juana Briones and Eda Blankart Funston. While not born in the area, these women settled in the Presidio and witnessed many changes. Learn about the history of the Presidio and discover the stories of women associated with the military post.
Switchboard operator for the Presidio, date unknown. NPS photo.
Before the establishment of the National Park Service in 1916, the U.S. Army was responsible for protecting our first national parks. Soldiers from the Presidio of San Francisco spent the summer months in Yosemite and Sequoia. Their tasks included blazing trails, constructing roads, creating maps, evicting grazing livestock, extinguishing fires, monitoring tourists, and keeping poachers and loggers at bay.
Buffalo Soldiers in Yosemite
Another Strong Year for Snowy Plovers at Ocean Beach and Crissy Field, As a New Overwintering Season Begins
Western snowy plovers are back on Golden Gate National Recreation Area beaches! They weren’t gone for very long. These small, federally threatened shorebirds leave Golden Gate to breed each spring, and return each fall to spend the winter feasting on beach invertebrates. Between the early and late breeders coming and going, June is often the only month plovers are absent.
Person on a beach, carrying a clipboard and looking through binoculars.
Point Blue Launches New Tool for Exploring Palomarin Field Station Bird Data
For decades, Point Blue Conservation Science has been counting and banding birds at their Palomarin Field Station at the southern end of Point Reyes National Seashore. In some cases, their data sets extend back more than 50 years. Now, they have released a new portal making it easier than ever to explore that data: the Palomarin Field Station Data Explorer.
Small olive-colored bird perched on a shrub.
Scientists Discover New Species of Deep-sea Sponge in Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary
Dozens of deep-sea sponges thrive off the California coast, but many are still unknown to science. Scientists recently described a new species of deep-sea sponge in Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary, located just northwest of Point Reyes National Seashore. The white ruffled sponge is named <em>Farrea cordelli</em> for its discovery in the 1,286 square mile sanctuary.
A white ruffled sponge illuminated in otherwise dark, deep water.
New Report Dives In to Cross-Boundary Invasive Plant Survey Results from Mount Tam
Invasive plants don’t see our property lines. The five partners that make up Marin County’s One Tam partnership know this, and they teamed up to create an Early Detection and Rapid Response program tasked with identifying and managing invasives across jurisdictions on Mt. Tamalpais. With early leadership from the Inventorying & Monitoring Network’s Invasive Species Early Detection Program, crews from One Tam surveyed over 400 miles of roads, trails, and stream corridors.
Person in the field, photoraphing a plant with her phone.
Encounters with the Portolá Expedition
How would you greet a new culture? The Chiguan and Aramai tribes of the Ramaytush Ohlone peoples, lived in neighboring villages just south of Sweeney Ridge. On October 28, 1769, the Portolá Expedition arrived at Ssatumnumo village. Three days later, the expedition entered Pruristac before first observing San Francisco Bay from this site on November 4th...
Portola expedition met by ohlone people
Invasive New Zealand Mudsnails Found at Muir Beach
This month, Golden Gate National Recreation Area and San Francisco Bay Area Network biologists discovered a large population of invasive New Zealand mudsnails in Redwood Creek at Muir Beach. A taxonomist at California State University, Chico helped confirm the snails’ identity.
Fingertip pointing to a cluster of tink, dark snails on a rock.
2014 NPS Environmental Achievement Awards
Recipients of the 2014 NPS Environmental Achievement Awards
2010 NPS Environmental Achievement Awards
Recipients of the 2010 NPS Environmental Achievement Awards
2011 NPS Environmental Achievement Awards
Recipients of the 2011 NPS Environmental Achievement Awards
2015 NPS Environmental Achievement Awards
Recipients of the 2015 NPS Environmental Achievement Awards
Born in Columbus, Ohio, Irvin McDowell (1818–1885) initially attended the College de Troyes in France before graduating from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1838. After completing his education, McDowell served as a tactics instructor at the Academy before joining John E. Wool's staff in the Mexican War.
Major Dana Crissy
Crissy Field, located in the Presidio of San Francisco, is named after Major Dana H. Crissy. In the early 1900s, Presidio coast artilleryman Dana H. Crissy was full of ambition and fascinated by the new invention of human flight. Imagine the sensation of being lifted into the air, just above the ground, and magically transported somewhere else.
Major Dana Crissy
Mission Revival Style 1890s - 1920s
By the late 19th century, California architects made a monumental shift in the direction of their architectural inspiration. Rather than continuing to adopt imported East Coast architectural styles, these architects recognized the value of their own historic surroundings, where the Spanish Colonial mission heritage of California and the Southwest had built beautiful mission chapels, with thick, white stucco walls, red clay roofs and bell towers.
Two story white and brown roof Administrative building constructed in 1921, with columns in front
Italianate Style 1850s - 1880s
The Italianate style, most prevalent in America between the 1850s and the 1880s, was inspired by rambling, informal Italian farmhouses and Italian-style villa architecture. The Italianate style placed an emphasis on the vertical orientation of the building, as if someone was pulling the top of the building up, and as if the building was made of putty, as it stretched upwards, the windows and door frames became narrower and attenuated.
Large two story house
Greek Revival Style 1830s - 1860s
The Greek Revival style, popular in American during the 1830s through to the 1860s, was inspired by the classical Greek temple. During this time, Americans were fascinated by all things classical, Roman and Greek. Many viewed their country as the natural heirs to the ancient Greeks, who invented democracy and it became very popular to be associated with ancient Greek concepts.
Horse drawn wagon in front of house
Queen Anne Style 1880s - 1910
The Queen Anne style, popular in American from 1880 to 1910, evolved out of the Colonial Revival style; the two styles were fashionable at the same time. The Queen Anne style was imported by English architects who were inspired by the half-timbered walls and patterned masonry of Medieval and Jacobean style-buildings.
Three two story, narrow white houses with red roof
Key Messages from 2019 Plant Pathogen Symposium
This June, scientists and land managers from as far as Australia and New Zealand gathered at the Presidio’s Golden Gate Club for “Healthy Plants in a World with Phytophthora: the seventh Sudden Oak Death Science and Management Symposium." Explore key messages from the event to learn about what San Francisco Bay Area Parks and nonprofit partners are doing to manage these potentially destructive fungal pathogens.
Participants gather around a table covered in plants.
The San Francisco Port of Embarkation
The massive buildings of the San Francisco Port of Embarkation (SFPE), now known as Lower Fort Mason, were originally built in 1912 to warehouse army supplies and provide docking space for army transport ships. The army first shipped men and supplies to the Pacific through San Francisco in 1898 during the Spanish-American War.
Soldiers returning to the Port of San Francisco on a boat
Adolphus Washington Greely
A man of eclectic talents and persuasions, Alolphus Washington Greely (1844-1935) was one of the most ambitious figures of his day. Though primarily remembered for his famous North Pole expedition, Greely’s colorful career also included service in the Union army during the Civil War and, later, as commander of the U.S. Army’s Pacific Division.
Alolphus Washington Greely
Partnerships add a Charge to your Travel Plans
The National Park Service, the National Park Foundation, BMW of North America, the U.S. Department of Energy, concessioners, and gateway communities have collaborated to provide new technologies for travel options to and around national parks. As part of this public-private partnership, BMW of North America, working through the National Park Foundation, donated and arranged for the installation of 100 electric vehicle (EV) charging ports in and around national parks.
Spike in Gray Whale Deaths Triggers Investigations
Eastern Pacific gray whales have generally been doing well in recent years. It’s not hard to spot them off of the California coast in the winter and spring. It is far less common to find a dead gray whale washed up on shore. On average, fewer than 15 gray whales are found dead along western US coastlines each spring. But this spring, 81 gray whale carcasses have turned up dead, including 13 in the San Francisco Bay Area alone. The question is, why?
Whale carcass on a beach
2019 Coho and Steelhead Smolt Trapping Season Nearly Over
The coho and steelhead smolt trapping season got off to a late start this year. It has also been interrupted by late season storms. Although May is not over yet, it has already been one of the wettest in recent history with over 4.5 inches recorded at the Bear Valley rain gauge. Still, the numbers of year-old smolts migrating out to the ocean have been especially promising on Redwood Creek where biologists are operating one of their two traps.
Two fishery crew members remove fish from a smolt trap with a net
Preliminary 2018-2019 Coho and Steelhead Spawner Survey Results Are In
This winter, biologists and volunteers counted 93 live adult coho salmon on Redwood Creek. A preliminary analysis of redd (nest) counts and measurements indicates that they also saw a preliminary total of 61 coho redds. On Olema Creek, surveys before and after the shutdown resulted in counts of 111 live adult coho, seven coho carcasses, and a preliminary total of 63 coho redds. Steelhead were also seen in all four streams that were surveyed.
Biologist leaning over a creek with a measuring stick
Mission Blue Translocation Project Pilots New Release Approach
This month, the US Fish and Wildlife Service approved a pilot effort to test feeding sugar water to half of translocated female Mission blue butterflies to boost egg laying upon their release. In their first experiment using this approach, Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy staff released three female butterflies fed sugar water, and three not fed sugar water, with promising results.
Mission blue butterfly drinking sugar water from a cotton ball, through a mesh container lid
Japanese Knotweed Management Making Headway Along Lagunitas Creek
Native to Japan, China, and Korea, Japanese knotweed is considered the 10th most invasive plant in the world. It is hardy enough to survive on the slopes of active volcanoes and strong enough to penetrate concrete, making it a threat to both natural and developed areas. Although it is not widespread in California, it is found at a number of sites in Marin County. Roughly a third of the known populations are on National Park Service land in Lagunitas Creek.
Dense stand of low, leafy vegetation beginning to crowd out other plants.
Climate Corner, October 2018: How Can We Promote Climate Resiliency in California Forests?
Disease. Fire. Changing climates. These emerged as powerful, interrelated forces shaping California forests at One Tam’s most recent Science Summit, "Into the Woods."
Twisting, moss-covered trunks of coast live oaks on a fog-drenched hillside
Western Pond Turtle Monitoring at Muir Beach Reveals Interesting Growth Trends
The month of August was turtle trapping season at Muir Beach. Six captive-raised western pond turtles released in 2017 were recaptured using modified catfish traps. Natural Resources Division staff and interns went out each weekday to check the traps and place new mackerel bait in their pouches. This year’s trapping success increased from 2017, when one turtle evaded trapping for three weeks!
Western pond turtle on a log sticking almost vertically out of the water
Western Pond Turtles Being Reintroduced to Southern Marin Park Sites
The National Park Service has entered into a cooperative partnership with the San Francisco Zoo and Sonoma State University to reintroduce the western pond turtle to Muir Beach and to sites in the Rodeo Lagoon watershed where it once lived.
One western pond turtle swims beneath another in a tank at the San Francisco Zoo
September 2018 Early Detection Newsletter Available
The September 2018 issue of Early Detection News is now available. Brought to you by the Invasive Species Early Detection (ISED) Program, this newsletter has the latest on invasive plants in the Bay Area. Get the highlights here.
Purple, feathery tips of a flowering blade of johnsongrass
Shedding Light on Molting Harbor Seals in Marin
In June and July, harbor seals haul out every day to molt, which means they shed their fur and grow a new layer. Counting the resting seals gives park biologists important information about how harbor seal numbers might be changing over time. During the 2018 molt season, a total count of 3,022 seals was recorded at eight Marin County monitoring sites.
Dozens of harbor seals lying close together on a spit of sand
Early Detection News - August 2018
The Invasive Species Early Detection Team (ISED) conducted August surveys at Point Reyes National Seashore and Golden Gate National Recreation Area North District. Noteworthy detections this month included malfurada, Klamathweed, purple starthistle, and Andean tussockgrass.
Malfurada - a plant with bright yellow flowers.
Rodeo Wetland Restoration Supporting Threatened and Endangered Species
In 2013, the National Park Service launched a major effort to restore the wetlands and native habitats near Rodeo Beach. The restoration project included regrading the parking area and surrounding landscape to restore the site’s hydrology, removing invasive plants, and planting native wetland species.
Small flower consisting of five white petals at the top of a long narrow stem
Mt. Tam BioBlitz Finds Rare Plant Species
The Redwood Creek Vegetation program hosted a One Tam BioBlitz in mid-May along Bootjack Creek in Mount Tamalpais State Park. This site was of particular interest to park managers because of its serpentine soils, which are rare within the Redwood Creek watershed, and because only limited botanical surveys have been done here in the past.
Small, mostly white flower with shades of pink and purple
Project Continues to Bring Mission Blue Butterflies Back to Milagra Ridge
Tiny, federally endangered Mission blue butterflies are once again making the trip from San Bruno Mountain to Milagra Ridge in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Now in its second year, this project is attempting to return Mission blue numbers at Milagra Ridge to self-sustaining levels after they nearly disappeared from the site.
Team of people some working of different butterfly translocation tasks on a grassy mountainside
2018 Coho and Steelhead Smolt Migration Begins
Coho smolt monitoring traps have just been installed on Redwood and Olema Creeks, but not before a few smolts were seen getting ready to head to the ocean even earlier in the month. Even more surprising were a few large schools of steelhead smolts and seven hatchery-reared adult coho spotted still hanging out in a pool in Redwood Creek in early March.
Smolt trap set up in a creek
2018 Coho Spawning Runs Larger Than Expected
Early January saw enough rainfall for adult coho salmon and steelhead trout to reach their stream spawning habitats. Despite this long wait, the coho and steelhead spawning run in both Olema and Redwood Creeks was larger than anticipated, even when factoring out the addition of hatchery-released coho in Redwood Creek.
Large fish swimming over a rocky creek bed
Western Snowy Plover Monitoring at Golden Gate National Recreation Area
Western Snowy Plovers are excellent indicators of the health and diversity of sandy beach ecosystems. The National Park Service began monitoring overwintering Western Snowy Plovers at Ocean Beach in 1994. When the first plovers appeared on the newly restored beach and dunes at Crissy Field in 2004, the NPS began monitoring there as well.
Snowy plover in foreground, Golden Gate Bridge in background
Bat Inventory of Muir Woods National Monument
Muir Woods National Monument contains natural features that make suitable roosting and foraging habitat for numerous bat species. By identifying which species of bats use habitats in Muir Woods and how they use them, bat inventories can help the National Park Service manage for the coexistence of bats and human visitors.
Bat inventory co-leader handles a hoary bat.
Coho Salmon: Monitoring to Understand Change
Coho have a complex fresh and saltwater lifecycle. Because females are three years old when they spawn, every three years represents a distinct “cohort”, or different group of fish that are living on the same three year cycle together. Three cohorts live in San Francisco Bay Area streams. Year-round monitoring captures coho population dynamics at each life stage, and also for each cohort over time.
Volunteers participate in a coho salmon spawner survey on Redwood Creek
Cotoneaster Removal Helps Restore Important Wildlife Habitats
National Park Service and Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy staff are working on cotoneaster removal at several project sites in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area including Oakwood Valley and Tennessee Valley. Cotoneaster—an invasive woody shrub with red berries that are readily dispersed by birds—forms dense stands that block all light to the understory.
Oakweed Valley before and after cotoneaster removal
Molting Harbor Seal Counts Show Continued Upward Trend in Bolinas Lagoon
Following the breeding season, harbor seals of all ages and sexes haul out daily to “molt,” or shed their old fur and grow a new layer. The maximum number of molting seals for all Marin County monitoring sites was approximately 2,630, which is similar to the 17-year average. However, a closer look at the numbers for each individual site shows that most had peak counts that were lower than their respective 17-year averages—except for Bolinas Lagoon and Point Bonita.
Harbor seals lying on rocks
Fall Raptor Migration Off to a Strong Start at the Golden Gate
On August 14th, the Golden Gate Raptor Observatory began its 35th season of monitoring fall raptor migration at the Marin Headlands, and so far things are off to a promising start. The beginning of the season is often foggy, and this year has been no different; however, raptor counts on clear days have been robust and diverse.
Bald Eagle flying by the Golden Gate Bridge
Sea Cave Inventory Underway at Golden Gate
The second week of August was filled with adventure and discovery for the Golden Gate National Recreation Area archaeologist, beach patrol, and biologists, along with a visiting National Park Service Alaska Regional Office scientist specializing in sea caves.
Two scientists standing at the mouth of a sea cave
The Bear Flag Revolt
How did California's state flag come to be?
The Original Bear Flag
Cape Ivy Removal Beginning in Lower Rodeo Valley
The Golden Gate National Recreation Area’s Natural Resources Vegetation Program and the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy’s Projects Department are initiating a collaborative project to remove a highly invasive plant, cape ivy, from the Lower Rodeo Valley.
Cape ivy leaves pictured against a white background
Ninety-Three Years of Dedication to Duty–Bidding a Sad Farewell to the Presidio Fire Department
Presidio fire station was built in 1917 in response to fatal fire in quarters of Gen. John Pershing. The Presidio Fire Department (PFD) served Presidio and Golden Gate NRA environs for 93 years. In 1994, base was closed through Base Realignment and Closure procedure, and operation of the department fell to NPS. This was first and only full–time fire department in NPS. In July 2012, all fire protection operations of PFD were absorbed by the San Francisco Fire Department.
National Park Service Visitor and Resource Protection Staff Focuses on Week of Leadership
Staff from all levels of the National Park Service in law enforcement, United States Park Police, as well as fire and aviation spent a week learning leadership lessons from one another as well as from a diverse group of leaders during the last week of September 2019.
A group of women and men on a rocky outcrop in high desert.
Life in an Ohlone Village Near San Francisco Bay
Like their other Ohlone counterparts, the Ramaytush speaking people of the San Francisco Peninsula lived comfortably on the land in a network of small villages. Ohlone life was centered on the natural world, family, and community. From childhood they began learning the skills they would use throughout life. Everyone had an array of abilities, but some were recognized for their special talents...
life in an ohlone village
Impact of Spanish Colonization
Prior to the arrival of the Spanish in 1769, the indigenous peoples of the San Francisco Peninsula, the Ramaytush, numbered about 2,000 persons. They were divided into ten independent tribes along the San Francisco Peninsula. Mission Dolores, was founded by Fray Francisco Palou on July 29, 1776. The Aramai tribe of the Ramaytush was almost entirely incorporated into Mission Dolores by 1784...
Ohlone map after colonization
2019 Harbor Seal Monitoring Updates
The 2019 harbor seal pupping season (March–May) was an average one. The maximum number of pups recorded during surveys at the main Marin County locations was approximately 1,060. That is very similar to the baseline average of 1,100 pups. The maximum number of seals recorded during the molt season (June–July), when all age groups come ashore to shed their fur, was approximately 2,800, which is less than the baseline average of 3,670 seals.
Two adult harbor seals and a harbor seal pup resting on a rock
The Civil War at Golden Gate
The National Park Service is commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Civil War (1861 – 1865.) We acknowledge this defining event in our nation’s history and its legacy in continuing to fight for civil rights.
Military Intelligence School at the Presidio
By the late 1930s, as diplomatic relations between the United States and Japan deteriorated, the U.S. Army established the 4th Army Intelligence School at the Presidio. The army converted hanger Building 640, on Crissy Field, into classrooms and a barracks for a language school which trained Nisei – Japanese Americans born to parents who had come to the U.S from Japan – to act as translators in the war against Japan.
historic photo of Japanese-American solders studying at tables
Post to Park Transition
When the Golden Gate National Recreation Area was formed in 1972, the Presidio was designated to be part of the system if the military ever closed the base. This foresight became a reality in 1989, when Congress decided to close the post as part of a military base reduction program. On October 1, 1994, the Presidio officially ended over two hundred-years of military service to three nations and was transferred to the United States National Park Service.
Post to Park Poster
Spanish American War - "A Splendid Little War"
On April 21, 1898, the United States declared war against Spain. It would be the first overseas conflict fought by the U.S. It involved major campaigns in both Cuba and the Philippine Islands.
Remember The Maine pin
We Hold the Rock
Early use of Alcatraz Island by the indigenous people is difficult to reconstruct, as most tribal and village history was recorded and passed down generation-to-generation as an oral history of the people. A large portion of this oral history has been lost as a result of the huge reduction of the California Indian population following European contact and exploration.
American Indians raising thier fist
World War II Mobilization Effort
World War II military posts are where simple wood-frame buildings tell a fascinating story of American ingenuity and the nation’s ability to create and produce quickly, under pressure. In the fall of 1939, two years before our nation officially entered the war, the US Army was comprised of only 200,000 enlisted soldiers and there was little need for new or updated housing. Beginning in 1940, the military started drafting men into the army and navy and military ranks began to
large wooden building under construction
Presidio of San Francisco Architecture
The Presidio of San Francisco represents one of the finest collections of military architecture in the country and reflects over 200 years of development under three different nations.
Enlisted family housing
The State Belt Railroad (1890-1993)
The California Gold Rush of 1849 dramatically transformed San Francisco into a bustling port town, exploding with new people and construction. Due to the lack of any proper city planning, San Francisco's waterfront grew haphazardly into a maze of wharves, piers and warehouses.
men in front of dieseil train at San Fransciso
The Dipsea Race
The race's history started in the early 1900s when San Francisco residents who wanted to take a break from city life flocked to nearby rural Marin County to enjoy the area's picturesque trails and forests. Every weekend, loaded ferries and trains brought people to hike and camp on the pastoral Mount Tamalpais, the 2,571 foot mountain in Mill Valley.
Dipsea tail runner on trail
Though he stood less than five and one half feet tall, Frederick Funston (1865-1917) is a giant of American military history. Daring on the battlefield, outspoken in public, and uncompromising in opinion, Funston was as colorful and controversial a figure as anyone in the United States around the turn of the century.
June: A Month of Milestones
The times are a changin’, and there’s no better time to honor those moments of change than in June. Over the course of America’s history, the month of June is filled with cultural changes, and some seasonal ones too. So just before the season changes and summer begins, take some time to visit these parks that commemorate extraordinary moments.
Painting of suffragist on a horse
National Parks Pitch In to Help Save Monarch Butterflies
As scientists and citizen scientists have noted, insect populations are plummeting across the globe. Monarch butterfly populations are no exception. Recent counts show that the western population has experienced a precipitous drop. As of 2018, the population of monarchs overwintering along the California coast stands at just 0.6% of what it was in the 1980s.
Monarch butterflies among eucalyptus leaves, viewed through a scope
Plot Twist in the Presidio
Last year, Presidio ecologists installed a webcam above a red-tailed hawk nest to capture the action during the upcoming breeding season. Thousands of viewers tuned in to watch as the resident pair of hawks fixed up their nest, laid eggs, and raised two healthy chicks. This year’s breeding season started off much the same as the last. But then a pair of great horned owls also began visiting the nest. Cue the drama.
Red-tailed hawk facing off with a great horned owl, both with their wings outstretched
Ocean Beach Fire Program
A long tradition of beach fires predating the land transfer of Ocean Beach to the Golden Gate National Recreation Area in 1975 continues to this day. During the Burn Season (March 1 - October 31), the National Park Service currently manages 16 very popular fire rings between stairwells 15 - 20. The Ocean Beach Fire Program was designed with extensive public input to allow visitors to continue to enjoy this tradition in a safe, manageable, and sustainable way.
People gathered around a fire pit on Ocean Beach at night.
Early Detection News – Spring 2018
Invasive Species Early Detection (ISED) team surveys began in April. They will be concentrated at Point Reyes National Seashore this year, with some additional work at Pinnacles National Park and John Muir National Historic Site.
How will Climate Change Affect Bay Area National Park Birds?
The National Audubon Society has created research summaries for 274 national park units that describe how projected changes in climate under different emissions scenarios are likely to affect local bird populations.
Hummingbird and house finch on the same branch
2018 Harbor Seal Pupping Season Winding Down in Marin County
Right on schedule, the first harbor seal pups of the 2018 breeding season were recorded at Drakes Estero and Tomales Bay on March 23. The season peaked in late April and early May, with a maximum number of approximately 1,000 pups recorded throughout Marin County locations.
Harbor seals hauled out on rocks
2018 Coho Salmon Smolt Trapping Season Ends
Spring smolt trapping surveys are complete on both Redwood and Olema Creeks. The 41 endangered coho salmon smolts captured on Olema Creek represented much lower numbers than anticipated, and the second lowest year on record since smolt trapping began here in the spring of 2004. Results from Redwood Creek were more promising.
Coho smolt being held in a measuring tray
Coastal Biophysical Inventory of the San Francisco Bay Area Network
The rocky intertidal zone has a tremendous diversity of plants and animals that are sensitive indicators of environmental change. The National Park Service contributes to collaborative long-term intertidal monitoring programs along the Pacific coast. The Coastal Biophysical Inventory's rapid assessments yield quantitative snapshots of the geology and biology of an expansive shoreline.
Close up of an ochre star on rocks.
Winter 2017-2018 Coho and Steelhead Spawner Survey Summary
In a typical year, the coho spawning run would span over two months (December to early February), but this year it was confined to only three weeks. Despite the short spawning window, Olema Creek redd (nest) production increased by 70% from the winter of 2014-2015 when this cohort last spawned. On Redwood Creek, the number of redds was the highest it has been since monitoring began for this cohort, bolstered by the release of hatchery-reared adult coho into the creek.
Person examining the brain cavity of a large coho carcass
Protecting Red-legged Frogs in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area
Habitat loss and invasive species have caused a precipitous decline in the number of threatened California red-legged frogs. The Golden Gate National Recreation Area and their partners have implemented extensive habitat enhancement projects in both San Mateo and Marin Counties. These agencies, along with the U.S Geological Survey, are also monitoring frogs in both areas.
California red-legged frog squats in a wet, mossy spot on some wood at Mori Point.
2017 Harbor Seal Monitoring Update
The peak harbor seal pup count for the 2017 breeding season was approximately 745 pups, which is similar to the 17-year average. There was also very low pup mortality recorded at all monitoring sites. The sites with the largest pup counts were Drakes Estero and Bolinas Lagoon. The maximum count of molting seals across all sites was also similar to the 17-year average.
Harbor seals resting on a submerged sandbar
Harbor Seal Monitoring in the San Francisco Bay Area
Because factors such as El Niño events, sea level rise, storm surges, changes in prey availability, and human activities can all affect harbor seals, studying them can provide important insights into the health of the larger marine ecosystem. The National Park Service, with the help of many dedicated volunteers and collaborators, has been monitoring harbor seals at sites in Golden Gate and Point Reyes every year since 1995.
Mother and baby harbor seal on sandy beach
Early Detection News, July 2017
A new edition of Early Detection News for July 2017 is now available. Brought to you by the Invasive Species Early Detection Program and Weed Watchers, this newsletter has the latest on invasive plants in the Bay Area.
Gold Bluffs Beach Dune Restoration
Youth and crew leader discuss dune restoration
Collaborative Bat Study Begins in Marin County
As many as 15 different species are thought to live in Marin County, California, but biologists don’t know much yet about where many of them roost, forage, or raise their young. A new, collaborative study will expand upon ongoing USGS bat research in the region to look at bat distribution, habitat associations, and roosting ecology across the area's parks and open spaces.
Person holding a pallid bat with gloved hands
Preliminary 2017 Coho Smolt Trapping Results Are In; Juvenile Monitoring Underway
The coho salmon smolt trapping season ended in late May, and preliminary results are now available. The Coho and Steelhead Monitoring Program has also begun surveys of juvenile coho that hatched in the creeks this past winter. Surveys are underway on Pine Gulch Creek, where many juvenile steelhead have already been spotted.
Juvenile steelhead trout in a measuring tray
Alcatraz's Diamond T
A fire engine once used for the famed prison on Alcatraz Island was restored to its former glory and greets visitors to “The Rock.”
Alcatraz Diamond T Patch
Salmon of Redwood Creek: Salmons’ Struggle for Survival
Redwood Creek is one of the only creeks where salmon have not been stocked or re-introduced. Salmon and steelhead seen in the Creek are truly ancient strains of salmonids. They are genetically unique from salmon in other creeks in northern California. Although Muir Woods National Monument is a safe haven from human disturbance, they continually face natural challenges here as well as human and natural challenges outside of Redwood Creek.
Coho salmon juvenile in a clear bag full of creek water for a better view
2019 Early Detection Newsletter Now Available
The 2019 issue of Early Detection News is now available. Brought to you by the Invasive Species Early Detection (ISED) Program, this newsletter has the latest on invasive plants in the Bay Area. In 2019, surveys took place between March and October at Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Point Reyes National Seashore, John Muir National Historic Site, and Pinnacles National Park.
Patch of tall grass next to a bear bin and fire pit at a campground.
Find Your Park 2019 ad campaign starts with parks in NYC and San Francisco
In the fall of 2019, the National Park Foundation rolled out new ads in San Francisco and New York for the Find Your Park campaign. From September 23 through October 28, a series of digital and static outdoor ads appeared in bus shelters, billboards, and other spaces in the city of New York and San Francisco.
display ads featuring John Muir National Historic Site
Researchers Pilot New Methods in Study of Brandt’s Cormorant Diets on Alcatraz
A new paper summarizes a three-year study that took place between 2014 and 2016 on Alcatraz Island to evaluate the best methods for determining diets of Brandt’s cormorants nesting on the Island. Diets are typically analyzed after the nesting season through the collection of regurgitated pellets containing undigested prey. But pellets may only represent cormorant diets towards the end of the breeding season.
Fish ear otoliths in a Petri dish.
Team Embarks on Third Year of Bat Monitoring in Marin County
The current biggest threat to Bay Area bats are habitat loss and disturbances to the places where they roost. As a result, researchers in Marin County are hoping to check which bat species are present, and learn more about their roosting habits and how they use local habitats. Such information could also help us understand how susceptible local bats are to White-nose Syndrome, and how best to protect them in the event that the fungal disease spreads to the Bay Area.
Pallid bat in a gloved hand
Late Spring Storm Caused 30% Loss to Alcatraz Brandt’s Cormorant Colony
This year, a large multi-day rainstorm flooded 537 Brandt’s cormorant nests on Alcatraz Island. The May storm occurred during the peak nesting season when cormorants were incubating eggs or caring for newly hatched chicks.
Brandt's cormorant pair standing over their nest full of eggs
NPS Geodiversity Atlas—Golden Gate National Recreation Area, California
Each park-specific page in the NPS Geodiversity Atlas provides basic information on the significant geologic features and processes occurring in the park. Links to products from Baseline Geologic and Soil Resources Inventories provide access to maps and reports.
golden gate bridge
Southwest National Parks Climate Roundtable Webinar Recording Now Available
Following the publication of the Fourth National Climate Assessment Volume II: Impacts, Risks, and Adaptation in the United States (NCA4), the National Park Service began hosting a series of roundtable webinars to convey relevant findings to national parks. Each roundtable covers one of the 10 geographic regions defined in the report. This month, they hosted their seventh regional installment, the Southwest Parks NCA4 Roundtable.
Fourth National Climate Assessment: What Does it Mean for National Parks in the Southwest Region?
Vegetation Mapping Projects Underway in Marin and San Mateo
In Marin and San Mateo Counties, previous mapping efforts used varying methods and focused solely on individual agency lands, making it challenging or impossible to interpret the data at a landscape level. But now, the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy is co-leading efforts to produce fine scale vegetation maps for both counties. A broad coalition of agencies and partners are collaborating on the efforts.
Aerial image overlayed with vegetation community polygons
2018-2019 Coho and Steelhead Return Looking Strong
During the winter months, coho and steelhead return from the ocean to their natal stream to spawn. Park biologists, partners, and volunteers survey these “spawners” to assess their success. Counts for both coho and steelhead were strong in Redwood and Olema Creeks. This year was also the last year of the Redwood Creek Captive Rearing Project, a multi-organizational collaborative effort to "jumpstart" our local coho population from the brink of extinction.
Biologist attaching a piece of blue tape to a creek-side tree branch as others look at a datasheet
An Update from a Decade of Recovery at the Giacomini Wetlands
October 27, 2018, marked 10 years since the levees were removed as part of the Giacomini Wetlands Restoration Project, a collaborative effort between Point Reyes National Seashore and Golden Gate National Recreation Area. One of the goals of the restoration project was to shift vegetation communities at the site from dairy pasture to tidal salt and brackish marsh. We also hoped to see an increase in native plant-dominated communities. Overall, it has been a success.
2018 vegetation map of the Giacomini Wetlands showing a diversity of vegetation types
Precipitation Extremes Mark First Years of Plant Community Monitoring in the Marin Headlands
San Francisco Bay Area Inventory & Monitoring Network scientists began plant community monitoring in 2015. The year 2015 was also the final year of California’s record-breaking four-year drought, which was followed by above average precipitation in 2016 and 2017. In a new article published in the journal Grasslands, network scientists focus in on how those precipitation extremes played out in one particular plant community: the coastal prairies of the Marin Headlands.
Hillside covered in bright orange flowers
2018-2019 Coho Salmon Spawning Season Begins
The coho salmon spawners from the cohort that will arrive this winter were last seen during the winter of 2015–2016. At that time, biologists found 66 coho redds (nests) in Olema Creek and 15 in Redwood Creek. Hopefully ocean conditions were favorable during the spring of 2017 through the summer of 2018, and we can surpass those numbers this year.
Two large fish swimming side by side in a shallow stream.
The ascent to peak health: Measuring the state of a mountain’s natural resources
How do you define and measure the ecological health of one of the San Francisco Bay Area’s greatest natural treasures? Members of the Tamalpais Lands Collaborative, including the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, recently came together to answer this question.
Landbird Inventory for Point Reyes National Seashore and Golden Gate National Recreation Area
Golden Gate National Recreation Area and Point Reyes National Seashore encompass 160,000 acres of wild areas and diverse habitats, enabling them to host a wide array of birds. During the breeding seasons of 1998 through 2000, Point Blue Conservation Science conducted landbird surveys along 61 transects throughout the parks. This inventory, along with additional sightings by park staff and visitors, resulted in observations of 129 species that breed in the parks.
The Spotted Towhee perches on a branch.
Water Quality Monitoring in the San Francisco Bay Area
Freshwater quality affects people’s enjoyment of San Francisco Bay Area national park resources, and plays a direct role in the health of aquatic habitats. In 2006, the National Park Service began monitoring freshwater quality under a long-term monitoring plan developed for Golden Gate National Recreation Area, John Muir National Historic Site, Muir Woods National Monument, Pinnacles National Park, and Point Reyes National Seashore.
Rocky creek with flowing water.
Water Quality Monitoring in the Presidio of San Francisco
Water quality is an indicator of the condition of aquatic habitat and is also an important indicator of the overall health of watersheds. In partnership with the Presidio Trust, National Park Service Inventory and Monitoring Program staff conduct monthly water quality monitoring at 16 sites in the Presidio to determine long-term trends in water quality parameters. These include water temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen, nitrate (as nitrogen), phosphate, and coliform bacteria.
Water quality technician wades through deep stream while collecting samples at Mountain Lake
Rare Lichen Discovered at More Bay Area National Park Sites
In 2015, biologists found the globally rare island tube lichen (Hypogymnia schizidiata) on Montara Mountain during a baseline lichen inventory for the Rancho Corral de Tierra unit of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. In subsequent years, the lichen has also been discovered in the Marin Headlands in Golden Gate, and on Mt Vision in Point Reyes National Seashore.
Close-up view of island tube lichen
Habitat Restoration Team Celebrates 30 Years of Caring for Golden Gate Lands
Now one of now many drop in volunteer programs, the Habitat Restoration Team, started as an REI service project in August 1987 under the leadership of then National Park Service trail crew leader Gary Mott. Although the team started out working on trail improvements, it quickly expanded to help control invasive plants like gorse, cape weed, and French broom.
Habitat Restoration Team group photo
2011 Recipients: George and Helen Hartzog Awards for Outstanding Volunteer Service
Meet the six winner of the 2011 Hartzog Awards, which celebrates the amazing contributions of volunteers to our national parks.
Occupation of Alcatraz, 50th Anniversary Commemoration
In 1969, a group of Native American activists called the Indians of All Tribes arrived on Alcatraz. Red Power on Alcatraz: Perspectives 50 Years Later tells the story of their 19 month occupation of the island. For the 19 months duration of the exhibit, visitors can view photographs by Brooks Townes, Ilka Hartmann and Stephen Shames, original materials from the collection of Kent Blansett, and contributions from the community of former occupiers.
Tipi in doorway framed by two panels
Fort Baker is a historic army post located in the Marin Headlands. The post, built between 1902 and 1910, is one of the park’s best examples of the army’s “Endicott Period” military construction, named after the late 19th century Secretary of War, William C. Endicott.
Large two story patio front building at Fort Baker
Architectural History at Golden Gate National Recreation Area
The majority of Golden Gate’s historic buildings were constructed by the United States Army from as early as the 1860s. The army established their first military post here at the Presidio in 1847 and with the advent of the Civil War, they established posts at Fort Mason, Fort Point and Alcatraz. The army’s job was to defend the city from enemy attack, so their first construction priority was to immediately build powerful seacoast defense batteries and cannon.
Soldier on horse in front of two level home
Seventh Sudden Oak Death Science & Management Symposium: Key Messages
This June, scientists and land managers from as far as Australia and New Zealand gathered at the Presidio’s Golden Gate Club for “Healthy Plants in a World with Phytophthora: the Seventh Sudden Oak Death Science and Management Symposium."
Trays of young plants in a greenhouse
Strong Atmospheric Rivers Impact Bay Area Parks
Warm, tropical air is capable of holding massive amounts of water. Most of the time, that warm, wet air stays in the tropics, but sometimes, atmospheric conditions draw it out across great distances in long, narrow bands. When these “atmospheric rivers” reach land in the mid-latitudes, the air cools and the water vapor it was carrying falls as rain or snow.
Collapsed section of a coastal cliff, consuming a large section of the beach below
Of salmon and success: Partnership across boundaries in Olympic National Park
Invasive species management in national parks can be hard, but success is possible! Learn how the Exotic Plant Management Team, along with tribal and state partners, fought invasive knotweed - but not vampires - in Olympic National Park.
A man standing in a tall thick of knotweed
Preliminary Summer 2018 Juvenile Salmonid Survey Results In
The juvenile coho population in both Olema and Redwood creeks was smaller than expected given the observed spawning activity during the winter of 2017–2018. One possible reason for lower survival rates was a big storm in early April, during a time when newly emerged coho fry are extremely vulnerable.
Two people in wetsuits snorkeling in the shallow waters of Redwood Creek
Marin Spotted Owls Buffered From Barred Owl Invasion
Did you know that Marin County, CA, including Point Reyes National Seashore, could be essential refuges for the northern spotted owl subspecies in coming years? In forests farther north, the eastern barred owl has moved down the coast and invaded historic spotted owl territories.
Two northern spotted owls on a branch, a parent and a fledgling
Marin County Vegetation Map & Landscape Database Project Underway, With Plans to Expand
A broad coalition of Marin County land management agencies and other partners have joined forces to meet their common need for a fine-scale vegetation map and landscape database. The first phase of this project will create digital aerial photos at a resolution of six inches, and three-dimensional landscape imagery through LiDAR surveys.
LiDAR imagery of a segment of a Sonoma County river, highlighting flood risk areas
Second Year of Bat Surveys Underway in Marin County
The US Geological Survey Western Ecological Research Center, Point Reyes National Seashore, and One Tam partners are embarking on their second year of bat surveys in Marin County. The collaborative effort aims to shed light on local bat species diversity, distribution, roosting sites, and disease.
Gloved hand holding a hoary bat
Check Out the New San Francisco Bay Area Inventory and Monitoring Network Website
The San Francisco Bay Area Inventory and Monitoring Network website is now fully updated! The new website features a modern look and feel, is fully accessible, mobile friendly, and makes it easier to find and share information.
Partial screenshot of a new webpage on the new San Francisco Bay Area Network website
Habitat Succession Effects on Nesting White-crowned Sparrows
Decades of habitat change at Point Blue’s Palomarin Field Station in Point Reyes National Seashore have seen a conversion of shrubland to dense Douglas-fir forest, as well as an 85% decline in the local white-crowned sparrow population. A recent paper used 30 years of data to understand how plant community changes at the site affected both the reproductive success and habitat selection of this bird species.
White-crowned sparrow perched at the top of a shrub
No Clear Cause for Recent Sea Star Wasting Disease Found
A new study has revealed no one cause of the disease, which hit populations of the keystone predator ochre sea star particularly hard in 2014 and 2015. The authors used data from 90 sites ranging from Alaska to southern California to try to determine what caused the outbreak.
Colorful ochre stars with the tissues of their limbs deteriorating
Sedges of Marin County Guide Now Available
The sedge genus is one of the largest, most widespread, and ecologically important genera of vascular plants worldwide, and the largest genus of flowering plants in California (156 spp.). However, comparatively little is known about the distribution, status, and ecology of many species. This is largely because of the difficulty of sedge identification.
Screenshot of Sedges of Marin County website
Sea Cave Monitoring Continues Along Golden Gate’s Shores
Staff from the Alaska Regional Office and the Golden Gate National Recreation Area Natural Resources Division are continuing to explore and map sea caves and related features along the park’s coast. With surveys of the Marin Headlands coastline completed—but just some of San Francisco’s shorelines surveyed—they have already found and mapped over 100 caves and cave-like features.
Modified satellite image of Bird Rock area, with sea cave locations highlighted
Breeding Success for Recently Released Endangered Coho in Redwood Creek
Since January's coho salmon release in Redwood Creek, monitoring crews have been surveying the creek weekly to record the number and locations of coho salmon nesting sites, known as redds. They have found at least 35 coho redds that they believe were created by the released fish due to the presence of hatchery adults at or near the nesting site at the time of the observation.
Large fish in a net being lowered into a creek
Wintering Monarch Butterflies at the Presidio
Monarch butterflies have begun their migration to wintering sites in California, including Rob Hill Campground in the Presidio. Monarch numbers have been low at this site over the last 20 years, but the last two years have shown record numbers.
Monarch butterfly perched on a cluster of red berries
Barred Owls in Marin County
Barred owls recently expanded into the forest communities of Marin County where they may be negatively impacting the federally threatened northern spotted owl. The barred owl is an eastern species that has expanded its range westward into the Pacific Northwest and more recently southward into California. During their annual northern spotted owl surveys, National Park Service biologists in Marin also record the presence of barred owls and other potential threats.
2017 Juvenile Coho Monitoring Done; Spawner Monitoring Begins With Some Surprises
The San Francisco Bay Area Inventory and Monitoring Network’s Coho and Steelhead Monitoring Program has preliminary results from this year’s summer monitoring. Also, winter spawner monitoring is now underway. While the water is still too low for migrating fish on Olema and Redwood Creeks, partner groups have recorded some surprising salmon sightings on Lagunitas Creek.
Three people wearing waders, standing in a creek with nets and electrofishing gear
2014 Freeman Tilden Award Recipients
Introducing the national and regional recipients of the 2014 Freeman Tilden Awards, given in recognition of new and innovative programs in interpretation.
Two rangers holding a whale skull
World War II Plane Crashes in National Parks
During WWII, more than 7,100 air crashes involved US Army Air Force (USAAF) aircraft occurred on American soil. Collectively these crashes resulted in the loss of more than 15,599 lives (Mireles 2006). Many of these military aircraft accidents occurred in remote, often mountainous, areas managed by the National Park Service.
plane crash at base of grassy hill
Spring 2017 Downstream Migrant Trapping Summary
The 2017 coho and steelhead smolt trapping season began in mid-March. Coho and Steelhead Monitoring Program staff and volunteers constructed two traps on Redwood Creek and one trap on Olema Creek to help monitor the annual migration of the year-old fish out to sea. The primary Redwood Creek trap captured a total of 612 coho smolts, and 1,145 coho smolts were captured in the Olema Creek trap. Crews collected valuable data on each fish before sending them on their way.
Juvenile steelhead in a measuring tray
Winter 2016-2017 Coho and Steelhead Spawner Survey Summary
Although Coho and Steelhead Monitoring Program crews were unable to survey as often as in past winters due to many heavy storms, they observed more than double the number of coho redds (nests) on Redwood Creek compared to the winter of 2013-2014, when the previos generation of these fish spawned. The number of redds on Cheda Creek stayed the same, and lower than expected on Olema Creek.
Adult male coho swimming upstream
Frequently Asked Coho Salmon Questions
Visitors to Muir Woods National Monument may be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of endangered coho salmon in Redwood Creek. Read on for the answers to several frequently asked questions about these fascinating fish.
Adult female coho salmon
Crews Survey Serpentine Barrens on Mount Tam
Areas with large amounts of serpentinite, California’s greenish state rock, are uniquely common on and around Mount Tamalpais in Marin County. They appear as sparsely vegetated patches of rocky soil known as serpentine barrens. Serpentinite-rich soils are too harsh for most plants. The few plants that do grow in serpentine barrens are typically specialized, rare, locally endemic species.
Team of three people crouching over sparse serpentine barren vegetation.
Golden Gate's Journey to Carbon Neutral Park Operations
Golden Gate National Recreation Area has attained carbon-neutral park operations, arriving at a major milestone set forth in the park’s Climate Change Action Plan a full year ahead of schedule! As of 2019, the park is using 100% renewable electricity and offsetting additional emissions from park operations by purchasing carbon offsets.
Three different kinds of vertical-axis wind turbines
In 2005, Jonathan Cordero identified a surviving lineage from the Aramai tribe and Randall Milliken published this information in a report compiled for Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Although other families may have survived into the twentieth century, only one lineage of the Ramyatush peoples is known to have produced descendants that are living today. These descendants originate from the Aramai tribal village of Timigtac.
illustration of ohlone vilagers
Re-interpreting the Discovery Site
What is the legacy of colonization? Over the centuries, the lens of history has sharpened. The notion that America was vast and empty, waiting to be discovered and settled by Europeans was based on the pretense that no one of significance was here before. The truth is that indigenous people with thriving and highly developed cultures lived across the continent for thousands of years before colonization started...
Two women, descendants of the portola expedition, talk into a microphone
Transformative Quartermaster Reach Restoration Project to Begin in the Presidio
The Presidio Trust, Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, and Golden Gate National Recreation Area have worked to restore the Tennessee Hollow Watershed for over two decades. However, one key part of the watershed, where the creek connects to Crissy Marsh, remains buried under a sea of pavement and confined to a 72-inch storm drain. Next month, that will start to change.
Artists rendering of a restored Quartermaster Reach Marsh
NOAA Scientists Publish Climate Vulnerability Assessment for Pacific Coast Salmon and Steelhead Populations
Twenty-eight of the 52 distinct populations of seven Pacific salmon and steelhead species in the continental US are either threatened or endangered. Three more are considered species of concern. A team of NOAA-led scientists recently completed a climate vulnerability assessment for all of these populations, plus a couple more.
Bar graph: Salmon and steelhead population's vulnerability to climate change, by species.
First Phase of Salmon Habitat Enhancement Project Underway in Muir Woods
This month, a project began in Muir Woods that aims to address one of the biggest threats to the survival of endangered coho salmon in Redwood Creek: the lack of good stream habitat for young fish.
Biologists scooping fish out of a netted-off section of creek.
2019 Harbor Seal Monitoring Complete
The 2019 harbor seal monitoring season has come to a close. Biologists monitor harbor seals at various Marin County locations during the breeding season (March - May) and molt season (June - July). The 2019 breeding season was an average one for the harbor seals. Molt season counts were similar to the last couple of years, but lower than the baseline average.
Two adult harbor seals and a harbor seal pup resting on a rock
John Harris Fights Back Against Discrimination
In the late 19th century, a new California civil rights law was put to the test after San Franciscan John Harris was turned away from Sutro Baths because he was black. His experience provided a unique opportunity to see if the recently ratified legislation, meant to ensure equal access in public places, could actually compel change.
The Panama-Pacific International Exhibition
The vast fair, which covered over 600 acres and stretched along two and a half miles of water front property, highlighted San Francisco’s grandeur and celebrated a great American achievement: the successful completion of the Panama Canal. Nine years earlier, San Francisco experienced a terrible earthquake, declared one of America’s worst national disasters. The city overcame great challenges to rebuild and by the time the Exposition opened in 1915.
View of the South Gardens and the Tower of Jewels, 1915
1906 Earthquake and the Army
In the early dawn light of April 18, 1906—at 5:12 a.m.—the ground under San Francisco shook violently for a less than a minute. Though damage from the earthquake was severe, the ensuing fires were truly catastrophic. Thirty broke out almost immediately, burned for three days, and destroyed over five hundred blocks in the heart of the city.
Soldiers from the presidio walking in the rubble from the earthquake
Army Life at Fort Cronkhite
The first soldiers stationed at Fort Cronkhite were assigned to the 6th and 5th Coast Artillery Regiments. A soldier’s life at Fort Cronkhite, as anywhere in the army, meant that you did what you were told to do. A soldier’s daily life on post was structured and regimented; they were required to drill and train, eat and clean their barracks, all at tightly scheduled times. The soldiers trained constantly, either up at Battery Wallace or on the post’s main parade ground which
off duty soldiers in front of the barracks
Marin Headlands Agriculture
The first users of the Marin Headlands were the native Americans, who hunted and gathered on the abundant land. By the 19th century, Europeans divided the land into dozens of successful dairy farms. When development encroached in the mid-20th century, active citizens worked tirelessly to protect the land as a new urban national park.
historic map of the Marin penisula dividing into separate ranch parcels
John Muir was one of the country’s most famous naturalist and conservationist and Muir Woods, part of Golden Gate National Recreation Area, is named in his honor.
John Muir profile portrait
Japanese at Rancho Corral De Tierra
Before World War II, two Japanese families came to cultivate lands now a part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, the Takahashis and the Satos. Both their stories have historical importance. The first one is about a pioneer horticulturalist and leader of his community. The second is about the struggles of a farm family faced with internment and ruin.
The Sato Family
Invasive Plant Species Priority Lists
Read about how the Early Detection Team prioritizes removal of different invasive plants.
Effort Underway to Establish Pathogen Resistant Lupines at Milagra Ridge
As Mission blue butterflies decline at Milagra Ridge, silver lupines, are also in rough shape. They are losing their leaves and flowers to fungal pathogen outbreaks. Silver lupines are host plants for Mission blue butterflies; Mission blue caterpillars depend on their leaves for food. To help buffer the Mission blue population from further pathogen outbreaks, the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy is planting a pathogen resistant lupine species at the site this spring.
Hundreds of newly-planted seedlings protected by cages and marked with colored flags
Mission Blue Translocation Project Enters Year Three
Park partners and staff were alarmed when only three federally endangered Mission blue butterflies were recorded in 2015 at Golden Gate National Recreation Area’s Milagra Ridge. So they took action, doubling down on habitat restoration work in the area, and starting the Mission Blue Butterfly Translocation Project in 2017. The project’s third season got off to a strong start on April 10 with the translocation of nine Mission blues from San Bruno Mountain to Milagra Ridge.
Two people on a grassy hillside point as a third person prepares to swing a butterfly net
Rare Bees Return to Restored Presidio Sand Dunes
Presidio Trust stewardship staff have discovered a sizeable colony of rare silver digger bees in newly restored Presidio sand dunes. Significant numbers of this species haven’t been spotted in San Francisco since 1928. The sand-loving bees returned to the area after stewardship staff removed invasive ice plant, allowing the original sand dune ecosystem to flourish.
Siver digger bee in flight
Harbor Seal Habitat and Sea Level Rise in the San Francisco Bay
Harbor seals are year-round residents of San Francisco Bay Area waters. But they don't just stay in the water. They also need safe places to come ashore to rest, shed their fur, and raise their young. They “haul out” in several coves, lagoons, and estuaries along the coast, and at many sites within the San Francisco Bay.
Three harbor seals resting on rocky islets rising above the water during a low tide.
California Red-legged Frog Numbers on the Rise at Muir Beach
Every winter, scientists count California red-legged frogs egg masses in ponds and streams at Muir Beach and at other sites in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. 2016 and 2017 have seen the highest egg mass numbers at Muir Beach since monitoring began at this site in 2002.
Close-up look at a California red-legged frog egg mass.
Sea Star Recovery Slow in Bay Area National Parks
Sea stars like ochre stars used to be abundant in Bay Area National Parks, but in 2013 park biologists saw a sharp decline in both the size and number of sea stars along park shorelines. Scientists are still looking for the cause of the mysterious “sea star wasting syndrome” behind this population crash. The disease has persisted along much of the Pacific coast, including in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and Point Reyes National Seashore.
Orange ochre star alongside anemones and barnacles in the rocky intertidal zone
Early Detection News - September 2018
The Invasive Species Early Detection Team (ISED) conducted September surveys at Point Reyes National Seashore and Golden Gate National Recreation Area North District. Noteworthy detections this month included reed canary grass, Johnson grass, and horehound.
Close up of reed canary grass with monoculture in the background.
2018 Marin Headlands Hawk Migration Underway
The Golden Gate Raptor Observatory began its 36th season of raptor migration tracking on August 13th. The program’s five volunteer teams are out in the Marin Headlands each day, with banding teams at four different trapping blinds, and the hawkwatch crew on the summit of Hawk Hill counting raptors and engaging the public.
Three young students wearing expressions of excitement as they look for hawks from Hawk Hill
August 2018 Early Detection Newsletter Available
The August 2018 issue of Early Detection News is now available. Brought to you by the Invasive Species Early Detection (ISED) Program, this newsletter has the latest on invasive plants in the Bay Area. Get the highlights here.
Klamathweed, with numerous blooming yellow flowers on stems covered in smaller leaves
Early Detection News - August 2017
The Invasive Plant Species Early Detection Monitoring team completed surveys for the 2017 field season in the San Francisco Bay Area. Several noteworthy species were detected this month including the spiny plumeless thistle, poroporo, black locust, common cocklebur, and stinkwort.
Red flower of the red amaranth
Night Sky and Lightscape Monitoring in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area
The quality of the nighttime environment and availability of natural lighting conditions is relevant to various ecosystem functions, particularly those concerning nocturnal wildlife. The National Park Service has developed a system for measuring sky brightness to quantify the source and severity of light pollution in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
Night skies over the San Francisco Bay, showing the illuminated bay bridge and Alcatraz.
Northern Spotted Owl Monitoring in the San Francisco Bay Area
Federally threatened Northern Spotted Owls are vital indicators of forest health since their survival depends on the presence of diverse, robust evergreen forest ecosystems. The National Park Service Inventory and Monitoring Program and its partners began long-term monitoring of Northern Spotted Owls in Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Muir Woods National Monument, Point Reyes National Seashore and other public lands in Marin County in 1999.
Female spotted owl perches on a branch
Bat Inventory of Golden Gate National Recreation Area
Bats are both economically and ecologically important, providing ecosystem services such as predation of insects and pollination. Between July 2004 and July 2005, researchers detected bat vocalizations in Golden Gate using Anabat bat detectors.
Close up image of a Fringed Myotis bat spreading its wings.
Check Out the Presidio’s New Hawk Cam!
You can now peek in on a mating pair of red-tailed hawks nesting high up in one of the Presidio’s blue gum eucalyptus trees. The pair are regular residents at the site, and have returned to this same nest over the past few years.
Red-tailed hawk in its nest, looking up towards the camera
Mates for a Rare Manzanita Offer Hope for Its Future
The Franciscan manzanita was considered extinct in the wild for seven decades until a single plant was discovered in the Presidio in 2009. The plant was saved and is now protected but it cannot reproduce without "mates". Last year, the Presidio Nursery worked with the UC Berkeley, East Bay Regional Parks, and San Francisco botanical gardens to grow plants from their collection of original Franciscan manzanitas, saved from other areas of San Francisco.
A blooming Raven's manzanita planting
Third Redwood Creek Coho Salmon Release a Success
January 12th marked another milestone in the multi-agency effort to save Redwood Creek’s coho salmon. Staff and volunteers joined together to release 188 adult coho spawners, which had been captured in the stream as juveniles in 2015 and reared in the Don Clausen Fish Hatchery.
Coho being released from a net into Redwood Creek
Plover Numbers Strong on Golden Gate Beaches
Last winter, National Park Service biologists observed record high numbers of federally threatened Western Snowy Plovers overwintering at Ocean Beach and Crissy Field. So far, the numbers this season are not quite as high, but they are still significantly higher than average since plover monitoring began in 1994—good news for plovers.
Western snowy plover on the beach
Wildland Fire in Douglas Fir: Western United States
Douglas fir is widely distributed throughout the western United States, as well as southern British Columbia and northern Mexico. Douglas fir is able to survive without fire, its abundantly-produced seeds are lightweight and winged, allowing the wind to carry them to new locations where seedlings can be established.
Close-up of Douglas fir bark and needles.
Preserving Places of Captivity: Civil War Military Prisons in the National Parks
During the Civil War, over 400,000 Union and Confederate soldiers were held prisoner at more than 150 diff erent prison sites. Approximately 56,000 of these died in captivity. Although Andersonville is the most famous Civil War prison, it is only one of many Civil War military prisons that are preserved by the National Park Service.
Plant Community Monitoring in the San Francisco Bay Area
Plant communities create essential habitat for plants and animals. While several National Park Service projects have included limited forms of vegetation sampling for some time, a recently updated protocol guides comprehensive, long-term plant community monitoring.
Coastal dune vegetation on a hillside at Point Reyes National Seashore
Invasive Plant Early Detection in the San Francisco Bay Area
Invasive plants can dramatically alter ecosystems and reduce the amount of habitat available for native plant and animal species. The San Francisco Bay Area Inventory and Monitoring Network has developed an invasive plant early detection protocol to prioritize, find, and map invasive plants at Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Point Reyes National Seashore, Pinnacles National Park, and John Muir National Historic Site.
The yellow flowers of invasive creeping capeweed in the Marin Headlands
Streamflow Monitoring in the San Francisco Bay Area
The amount of water flowing in a stream, or streamflow, is among the most useful factors available for understanding watershed and stream health. The San Francisco Bay Area Network Inventory and Monitoring Program and its partners monitor streamflow in selected streams at Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Pinnacles National Park, Point Reyes National Seashore, and the Presidio of San Francisco.
Brisk winter flows in Redwood Creek
The War and Westward Expansion
With Federal resources focused on waging the war farther east, both native tribes and the Confederacy attempted to claim or reclaim lands west of the Mississippi. The Federal government responded with measures (Homestead Act, transcontinental railroad) and military campaigns designed to encourage settlement, solidify Union control of the trans-Mississippi West, and further marginalize the physical and cultural presence of tribes native to the West.
Painting Westward the Course of Empire Takes its Way showing settlers moving into the American west
Early Detection News, June 2017
A new edition of Early Detection News for June 2017 is now available. Brought to you by the Invasive Species Early Detection Program and Weed Watchers, this newsletter has the latest on invasive plants in the Bay Area.
Mapping a small-leaf spiderwort infestation
Summer 2016 Juvenile Coho & Steelhead Monitoring Summary
Preliminary results from our juvenile coho basinwide surveys indicated a decrease in numbers on both Olema and Redwood Creeks when compared to the previous generation. The number of juvenile coho was also fewer than anticipated given the strong return of spawning coho seen during the winter of 2015-2016.
Large juvenile steelhead trout in a measuring tray during summer monitoring
2004 NPS Environmental Achievement Awards
Recipients of the 2004 NPS Environmental Achievement Awards
The Fort has been called "the pride of the Pacific," "the Gibraltar of the West Coast," and "one of the most perfect models of masonry in America." When construction began during the height of the California Gold Rush, Fort Point was planned as the most formidable deterrence America could offer to a naval attack on California.
Fort Point and Golden Gate strait before the Golden Gate Bridge
Adelbert von Chamisso
French-born explorer and naturalist Adelbert von Chamisso (full name: Louis Charles Adélaïde de Chamisso de Boncourt) (1781-1838) visited the San Francisco Bay area in the early nineteenth century. During his time in California, Chamisso studied a number of indigenous plant and animal species and his inventory is considered a valuable ecological record to this day.
Charles Young - Buffalo Soldier
Leader among the legendary "Buffalo Soldiers", Charles Young (1864-1922) served in the segregated U-S Army of the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Charles Young, Buffalo Soldier
Colonial Revival Style 1880s - 1940s
The Colonial Revival style, one of the most popular and enduring styles in America, was fueled by the country’s interest in its own history. The Philadelphia Centennial of 1876, held to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the signing of Declaration of Independence, sparked an interest in the history and accomplishments of the country’s forefathers.
White building with red roof
2019 Spotted Owl Breeding Success Near Average
The northern spotted owl monitoring season is winding down, and the results are nearly final as biologists complete the season's surveys. Reproduction for this year was near the average with nineteen fledglings counted from twelve successful nests. One nest failed, and ten pairs of owls did not nest this season.
Fluffy white northern spotted owl fledgling peering down through the trees
Japanese Knotweed Eradication Efforts Continue Along Lagunitas Creek
Homeowners, land managers, and coho salmon and all share a common concern along Lagunitas Creek in Marin County: Japanese knotweed. The plant is one of the world’s most invasive species, and was first reported in the area in 2011. This year, an early round of Japanese knotweed treatments is focusing on an area along Lagunitas Creek where a coho salmon habitat enhancement project will be taking place later in the summer.
Shield-shaped leaves of Japanese knotweed
World War II Temporary Construction
Golden Gate contains many examples of the military’s World War II “temporary construction” building type which tells a fascinating story of American ingenuity and the nation’s ability to create and produce quickly, under pressure. The army’s World War II temporary building patterns are more a building construction type than a specific architectural style.
Temporary two story rectangular building
Redwood Creek Salmon Habitat Enhancement Project
The Redwood Creek Salmon Habitat Enhancement Project as part of the Redwood Renewal effort, will remove a portion of the rock walls, or “riprap,” that line the creek banks upstream of Bridge 3, and use fallen trees from the forest floor to create fish habitat. Over time, the natural movement of water will finish the job of transforming Redwood Creek from its current hardened state to a more complex, natural, and healthy stream ecosystem.
Two Coho Salmon in Redwood Creek MUWO Photo by TIm Jordan NPS
Portuguese Dairy Farmers
The Marin Headlands, with its ideal climate for raising dairy cows, was once covered with prosperous dairy farms. By the 1880s, Marin County was California’s largest producer of fresh milk and buttThe Marin Headlands, with its ideal climate for raising dairy cows, was once covered with prosperous dairy farms. By the 1880s, Marin County was California’s largest producer of fresh milk and butter.
Portuguese Dairy Farmers
Winter 2018-2019 Coho and Steelhead Spawner Survey Summary
The 2018-2019 cohort on Olema has been the strongest cohort since monitoring began, and redd production this season is similar to what was documented three years ago. In comparison, redd abundance on Redwood Creek increased dramatically in 2018-2019 with the successful release of the hatchery-raised adults. Along with a healthy coho return, steelhead were seen in all four streams that were surveyed.
Two large fish lunging at each other at the surface of a creek
Summer 2018 Juvenile Coho & Steelhead Monitoring Summary
Preliminary results from our juvenile coho salmon basinwide surveys indicate an increase in population on both Olema Creek and Redwood Creek when compared to the previous generation. However, both Olema and Redwood Creek juvenile estimates are lower than expected given the number of redds observed during the winter.
Volunteers with nets walk through a creek on either side of a biologist with an electrofisher
2018 Harbor Seal Monitoring Updates
The San Francisco Bay Area Network's Pinniped Monitoring Program recorded the first harbor seal pups of the 2018 breeding season at Drakes Estero and Tomales Bay on March 23. The peak of pupping occurred during late April and early May, with a maximum number of approximately 1,000 pups recorded throughout Marin County locations. Following the breeding season, a total of 3,022 seals of all ages were recorded molting at Marin County locations.
Harbor seal moms and pups hauled out on a mudflat
Crissy Field Restoration
From a waste dump to a thriving coastal wetland habitat, Crissy Field has gone through an amazing transformation.
Photo of vegetation at Crissy field following restoration work.
Rocky Intertidal Monitoring in the San Francisco Bay Area
The rocky intertidal zone, or the band of rocky shore covered up by the highest of tides and exposed by the lowest of tides, is an extraordinarily diverse and productive ecosystem. The National Park Service Inventory and Monitoring Program monitors rocky intertidal communities at five sites in Golden Gate National Recreation Area and Point Reyes National Seashore.
Colorful ochre star clings to rock in the intertidal zone
Landbird Monitoring in the San Francisco Bay Area
With their varied microclimates, large swaths of protected wild lands, and position along a major migratory pathway, the National Parks in the San Francisco Bay Area host some of the largest and most diverse assemblages of landbirds in the United States. Golden Gate National Recreation Area and Point Reyes National Seashore have a long history of landbird monitoring, with some sites surveyed since the mid-1960s.
Ruby-crowned Kinglet perches in a flowering tree
John Harris Sues Adolph Sutro for Discrimination
In the late 19th century, a new California civil rights law was put to the test after San Franciscan John Harris was turned away from Sutro Baths because he was black. His experience provided a unique opportunity to see if the recently ratified legislation, meant to ensure equal access in public places, could actually compel change.
John Harris v. Adolph Sutro Newsletter
Wildland Fire in Chaparral: California and Southwestern United States
Chaparral is a general term that applies to various types of brushland found in southern California and the southwestern U.S. This community contains the most flammable type of vegetation found in the United States.
Chaparral on steep rocky slopes.
Coho Salmon & Steelhead Trout Monitoring in the San Francisco Bay Area
Federally endangered coho salmon and threatened steelhead trout are large, charismatic fish that play crucial roles in both stream and ocean ecosystems. The National Park Service Inventory and Monitoring Program and its partners began monitoring coho and steelhead in Golden Gate National Recreation Area and Point Reyes National Seashore in 1998.
NPS staff and volunteer measuring a coho salmon smolt
Summer 2017 Juvenile Coho & Steelhead Monitoring Summary
Preliminary results from juvenile coho salmon basinwide surveys in the San Francisco Bay Area indicate a decrease in numbers on Olema Creek and an increase on Redwood Creek when compared to the previous generation. For an eight consecutive year, surveys found no coho juveniles in Pine Gulch Creek.
Fingers holding filter paper with a coho tissue sample on it
Microplastics on National Park Beaches
Every beachgoer has probably noticed plastic trash littering their favorite beaches, however remote. A new study of microplastic distribution on national park beaches indicates that whichever one you visit, there is probably also some amount of plastic that is harder to see, mixed in with the sand between your toes.
Microplastic piece and organic matter
Captive Rearing of Redwood Creek Coho Salmon
Coho salmon in Marin County’s Redwood Creek are at critically low numbers, and are at risk of local extinction. To prevent permanent loss of the fish, a team of scientists and land managers are removing juvenile coho from Redwood Creek and rearing them to maturity.
Two male coho spawners interact as they swim upstream
Fire Prevention Success--What’s Being Accomplished in the National Parks
Spring 2016 Downstream Migrant Trapping Summary
The 2016 coho smolt trapping season began in late March after some unusually strong late winter storms. Two traps were constructed on Redwood Creek and one trap was constructed on Olema Creek. In general, it was a mild spring and there were no major disruptions to smolt trapping operations from late-March through May. Coho smolt production increased on both Olema and Redwood Creeks when compared with the previous time this cohort was seen.
Group of volunteers constructing a smolt trap in Redwood Creek
New Draft Lifeform Map Available for San Mateo County
Earlier this year, a broad coalition of agencies and partners co-led by the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy released a draft “Lifeform Map” for Marin County. Now, a different but overlapping coalition has released a similar draft lifeform map for San Mateo County. The project’s ultimate goal is to produce highly detailed maps of land cover and plant communities, for the first time at a countywide scale.
Representative lifeform map portion with colors representing different plant communities.
Freshwater Shrimp Surveys Underway in Marin County Creeks
National Park Service biologists, in collaboration with US Fish and Wildlife, are surveying lower Lagunitas Creek tributaries for endangered California freshwater shrimp for the first time in almost 15 years. Researchers will identify any changes in the abundance and distribution of shrimp in Marin County’s shallow streams, which represent a sizable portion of the native crustacean’s limited range.
Overhead view of a small, mostly translucent shrimp
High Numbers of Whales Washing up on Bay Area Beaches
No, it’s not your imagination, the Bay Area has seen a large number of dead whales on its shores over the last three months. Three whales have washed ashore at Bay Area national parks alone: a gray whale calf and a juvenile blue whale.
Young blue whale carcass washed up on a beach
Corridos: Stories Told Through Song
The corrido is a traditional Mexican song style that has evolved over the past 200 years in northern Mexico and the southwestern United States. Corridos are all about storytelling. They tell of battle victories (and loses), individuals taking on the establishment, the lives of great or notorious people, and – perhaps the most ancient type of story in human history – the epic journey. Learn about this enduring tradition and listen to a corrido about the Anza Expedition of 1776
A woodcut illustration of four people singing and a man playing guitar
Coloring Pages: Golden Gate
Express your creative side and de-stress with color pages of wildlife and park sites at Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
Colored in Butterfly lands on flower
Scientist Profile: Lizzy Edson, Data Coordinator
Data Coordinator Lizzy Edson is one of the many amazing women doing science in our National Parks! Her elegant handiwork is behind some of the San Francisco Bay Area parks’ most exciting Natural Resource projects: BioBlitzes, bat monitoring, the One Tam Health of the Mountain Project, and more. Read Lizzy's story to get inspired and learn how data helps us uncover hidden stories of the natural world.
Portrait of Lizzy beside Rodeo Lagoon.
Community Science Update: 2020 San Francisco Bay Area City Nature Challenge Recap
2020 looked a little different for the City Nature Challenge, an annual community science event. The event encourages urban areas around the world to turn out the greatest number of naturalists, make the most nature observations, and find the most species. In previous years, people have traveled to parks to find nature and make observations. But given local shelter-in-place restrictions, organizers decided on a different strategy.
Bee visiting a flower.
Honoring Marty Griffin’s 100 Years: A Lifetime Of Environmental Achievements
L. Martin (Marty) Griffin, M.D. (born July 23, 1920) is a pioneering environmentalist and conservationist in California. Marty has been a leader in protecting and preserving unique ecosystems and the creatures that inhabit them.
Portrait of a silver-haired man standing outside by Bolinas Lagoon.
1997–1998 El Niño / 1998–1999 La Niña
Wind-driven waves and abnormally high sea levels contributed to hundreds of millions of dollars in flood and storm damage in the San Francisco Bay region, including Point Reyes National Seashore, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, and Pinnacles National Monument. In addition to California, the 1997–1998 El Niño and the following 1998–1999 La Niña severely impacted the Pacific Northwest, including many National Park System units.
colorful ocean surface mapping image
Biologists Survey for Endangered Black Abalone
This summer as park biologists conducted rocky intertidal surveys, they also surveyed for black abalone, the only federally endangered marine invertebrate that resides in Bay Area National Parks. Black abalone were once common in California before threats like commercial fishing, poaching, and disease drove major declines in the species across the California coast. They are rare North of the Golden Gate bridge, and their numbers do not appear to be recovering on their own.
Close-up of black abalone specimen, with bluish-black shell, in rocky intertidal habitat.
1982–1983 El Niño
As a result of this El Niño, heavy surf and rains severely eroded beaches and fragile sea cliffs in coastal California. National Park System units in California affected by the 1982–1983 El Niño event were Point Reyes National Seashore, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, and Pinnacles National Monument.
map of lower 48 united states with color ramp to show temperature
Researchers Identify Winter Bat Roosts in Marin County
Since 2017, One Tam partners have been collaborating with USGS to conduct the first countywide bat monitoring program in Marin. One piece of the program is roost site monitoring, which begins with mist netting to catch bats. This past February, the monitoring team spent seven nights mist netting at Cascade Canyon and near Lake Lagunitas on Marin Municipal Water District land.
Person in the forest holding up an electronic device over his head.
USGS National Wildlife Health Center Bulletin Addresses Coronaviruses in Wildlife
Coronaviruses exist in many mammals and birds all across the globe. At the USGS National Wildlife Health Center (NWHC), wildlife scientists are doing their part to tackle questions about COVID-19 and wildlife. For example, could North American wildlife become reservoirs of SARS-CoV-2, the virus behind COVID-19? What species are most susceptible? What can we do to reduce the risk of spreading the virus to wildlife?
A California myotis bat with a temporary radio transmitter attached to its back.
Presidio Bee Discoveries Inspire Joy and Concern
Earlier this spring, ecologists made a happy observation in the restored 2-acre patch of dunes at Rob Hill in the Presidio of San Francisco. For the second year in a row, large numbers of locally rare silver digger bees were busily digging nests and visiting flowers among the dunes. But a recently completed inventory revealed that some other bees in the park may not be doing as well.
Close-up of a black-tailed bumble bee visiting a flower.
2020 Small Research Grant Opportunities at Point Reyes National Seashore, the Tomales Bay Watershed, and Golden Gate National Recreation Area
To encourage partnerships with the research community and to support National Park Service and partner information needs, we are pleased to offer three grant competitions this year: the Neubacher Fund for Marine Science at Point Reyes, the Golden Gate Science Into Action Fund at Golden Gate, and the Tomales Bay Watershed Council Science Fund. <strong>The application deadline is February 24, 2020.</strong>
Wetland in Point Reyes National Seashore
Coast Redwoods v. Climate Change
Climate change caused by human greenhouse gas emissions has already begun to take a toll on trees in California. In fact, it is tied to a doubling of tree mortality in the Western US from 1955 to 2007 via increasing droughts, wildfires, and insect infestations. But what might climate change mean for California's iconic coast redwood trees?
Grove of coast redwoods.
Surveying for Japanese Knotweed in Lagunitas Creek
As part of a collaborative effort to manage Japanese knotweed within the Lagunitas Creek watershed, a team of ecologists from One Tam’s Conservation Management Program conducted a four-week survey to map all Japanese knotweed patches in the riparian corridor on public lands. Visit their Story Map to learn more about the creek, the plant, the surveys, and why it all matters.
Cover screenshot of
First Pupping Season Underway for New Presidio Coyote Pair
Last winter, an unknown female coyote passed through the Presidio of San Francisco. Presidio Ecologist Jonathan Young was able to put a temporary GPS collar on her before she left. Last summer, she returned with a mate and drove out the resident alpha coyote pair. Their battle was captured on a restaurant security camera. Now coyote 15F, the new alpha female, and her mate are probably caring for their first litter of pups in their new Presidio territory.
Alpha female coyote 15F, sporting a GPS collar and red ID tags in each of her ears.
Surveys Expand Known Ranges of Two Endangered Species
This fall, National Park Service biologists with funding from the US Fish and Wildlife Service made an exciting discovery. They found five endangered California freshwater shrimp in McIsaac Creek, where they had not previously been known to live! Their discovery came as part of an effort that began earlier this summer to check in on the status of the species in lower Lagunitas Creek and its tributaries for the first time since 2004.
Small brown and tan California freshwater shrimp perched on underwater vegetation.
Where Are All The Sea Stars?
Since 2013, sea stars from Alaska to Mexico have been dying in droves of a mysterious disease referred to as sea star wasting syndrome. Symptoms typically include the appearance of white lesions followed by tissue decay, body fragmentation and death, often within only a few days. Sea star die-offs are not necessarily unusual, but this one is unprecedented in terms of the numbers affected and the extensive area impacted.
Disintegrating legs of a diseased ochre star
Understanding and Protecting Northern Coastal Scrub Diversity
Conserving biodiversity hotspots like the California Floristic Province requires an understanding of plant diversity patterns in a given area. A recent study looked at these patterns of vascular plant diversity in relation to coast–inland environmental gradients in Central California shrublands.
A diverse assortment of coastal scrub species growing on a steep, ocean-facing bluff
Could Juvenile Coho Conquer Warmer Stream Temperatures?
It was long ago established that elevated water temperatures are not great for juvenile coho salmon growth and survival. But climate change is making it increasingly difficult to ensure cool creeks for young coho. Thus, researchers at tUC Davis and NOAA wondered: are there other aspects of coho rearing habitat that, if optimal, might mitigate the impacts of warmer water temperatures? In their recently published study, they find that prey abundance is key.
Cluster of netted enclusures along a wide creek, with a mountain in the background.
Peregrine Falcons May Be Nesting on Alcatraz
A pair of peregrine falcons has been active on Alcatraz Island since January 2019. While it is not unusual to see peregrines on Alcatraz during the fall and winter months, they usually depart by February. But last year, the peregrines remained active on the island through the spring and summer months. This year, on March 3, a photo was taken of the peregrines mating on the Alcatraz Water Tower. If are now nesting on Alcatraz, it will be the first time in recorded history.
View through a scope of peregrine falcons mating on the Alcatraz Water Tower.
Rare Bird Sighting on Alcatraz
On March 9th, 2020 Alcatraz Biologist Tori Seher captured a photo of a black-legged kittiwake on the northwestern side of Alcatraz Island. This bird species was observed one other time on the Island more than 20 years ago, in 2000.
Slender gull with a yellow bill and black legs
The Occupation of Alcatraz
At first the Occupation was wildly popular, attracting thousands of Native Americans on a pilgrimage to the cold, windy island in San Francisco Bay.
Woman and Man with children on the way to Alcatraz
The Case of the Missing Harbor Seals
Normally, biologists would head out weekly to survey harbor seals during their pupping season, from March through May. They would count adults and pups at eight pupping locations along the Marin County coast to be able to identify, and potentially help address, any unexpected changes in their numbers. In recent years, this monitoring might best be described as uneventful. Not this year!
Looking down from a bluff at hundreds of harbor seals crowding one side of a large sandbar.
Coho Spawners Come Up Short in 2019-2020, but Steelhead Return Looking Strong
Recent surveys revealed the coho run has ended for our coastal Marin streams. Overall, coho spawning numbers were lower than anticipated, even with beneficial December rainfall. Surveys will continue through April to document steelhead spawning.
Three people hike along the rocky banks of a creek wearing waders and carrying measuring poles
2019 Juvenile Coho Population Smaller Than Expected
Summer juvenile salmonid monitoring has revealed that the juvenile coho population was smaller than expected on both Olema and Redwood Creeks given the substantial spawning activity seen during the winter of 2018-2019. Possible reasons for lower survival rates include the major storm events that occured in February of 2019.
Close-up of a juvenile coho salmon
Marin Vegetation Mapping Project Reaches New Milestone
A draft “Lifeform Map” is now available for Marin County. It represents the latest milestone in the Marin Countywide Fine Scale Vegetation Map and Landscape Database Project, co-led by the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, in collaboration with a broad coalition of agencies and partners.
Map of Drakes Estero showing many different colors, each representing different land cover classes.
Summer 2019 Juvenile Coho & Steelhead Monitoring Summary
Preliminary results from our juvenile coho salmon basinwide surveys indicate a decrease in the population on both Olema Creek and Redwood Creek when compared to the previous generation. In addition, juvenile coho estimates were lower than expected for both streams given the number of redds observed during the winter. Meanwhile, summer 2019 juvenile steelhead totals were the highest since surveys were initiated in 2009.
Sculpin in a measuring tray showing that it is more than 8 inches long.
Natural Resource Condition Assessments Published for Golden Gate and Point Reyes
In November, the National Park Service’s Natural Resource Condition Assessment (NRCA) Program published NRCA reports for Golden Gate National Recreation Area and Point Reyes National Seashore. The reports, both prepared by faculty at the University of California, Berkeley in coordination with park staff, focus on a set of eight natural resources in each park.
Cover page of Golden Gate's Natural Resources Condition Assessment report
Gary Fellers Leaves Legacy of Scientific Inquiry in California National Parks
Few individuals have shaped our understanding of terrestrial species in the San Francisco Bay Area and California national parks like Dr. Gary Fellers, who passed away in November. Gary worked at Point Reyes National Seashore from 1983 until his retirement in 2013, first as a National Park Service scientist, and later as a researcher for the USGS Western Ecological Research Center.
Dr. Gary Fellers
Slow Start to 2019-2020 Coho Spawning Season
This year, after a dry fall, the first rains arrived during the last week of November, and rain continued to fall in December. With flows on both Olema and Redwood Creeks high enough for adult coho to migrate in from the ocean, the Salmonid Monitoring Program began spawner surveys to count how many coho are returning. As of December 19, the monitoring team had counted one redd in Redwood Creek and two redds in Olema Creek.
Coho redd, appearing as a shallow, lighter-colored depression in a creek bed.
Pacific Border Province
The Pacific Border straddles the boundaries between several of Earth's moving plates on the western margin of North America. This region is one of the most geologically young and tectonically active in North America. The generally rugged, mountainous landscape of this province provides evidence of ongoing mountain-building.
Drakes Estero in Point Reyes National Seashore. NPS photo/Sarah Codde
New Rocky Intertidal Biodiversity Surveys Seek a Broader Perspective For Monitoring Change
Every year, National Park Service biologists conduct intertidal surveys at sites along the San Francisco Bay Area coast, contributing to growing long-term data sets. Typically, they survey fixed plots, focusing on small areas of the reef and specific communities like mussels, barnacles, and algae. This year, they have also adapted an approach of sampling large areas of the reef at once and documenting all observed species along a set of transect lines.
People wearing waders stand and crouch along a transect tape through the rocky intertidal zone
Marin Wildlife Picture Index Project Hits Major Milestone
Starting in 2014, One Tam partners joined the international Wildlife Picture Index Project (WPI) with an array of cameras on NPS, Marin Municipal Water District, and state and county park lands across the Lagunitas Creek Watershed.
Wildlife camera image of a baby gray fox climbing up a steep slope.
2020 Breeding Season (Mostly) Successful for California Red-legged Frogs in Golden Gate
Golden Gate National Recreation Area biologists have been monitoring federally threatened California red-legged frogs in the park for 20 years. This year, biologists were able to complete their surveys prior to local shelter-in-place orders to slow the spread of COVID-19. Their findings were heartening! They counted a new record of over 600 egg masses in the park.
Upside-down, half-eaten adult female frog with a small cluster of gelatinous frog eggs.
Alcatraz Waterbird Docents Assist with Island-wide Winter Bird Counts
During the waterbird nesting season on Alcatraz Island (~March-September), docents are stationed near the colonial waterbird colonies. Using spotting scopes and binoculars to view waterbirds incubating eggs or feeding chicks, docents teach visitors about the ecology of nesting gulls, cormorants, herons, and egrets. However, waterbirds are not Alcatraz’s only avian inhabitants. In the winter months, these same waterbird docents assist with Island-wide bird counts.
Peregrine falcon overlooking the San Francisco Bay.
POET Newsletter September 2012
Pacific Ocean Education Team (POET) newsletter from September 2012. Articles include: Sea Level Rise and Coastal Parks; Fun with Coral Reefs and Climate Change Education; and Climate Change Exhibits From Sea to Rising Sea.
people on beach
The United Nations Memorial Service at Muir Woods
San Francisco played an important role as host to the birth of the United Nations. The United Nations is an international organization founded in 1945 after the Second World War by 51 countries committed to maintaining international peace and security, developing friendly relations among nations and promoting social progress, better living standards and human rights.
historic photo of women and men sitting formally in a redwood grove
Fort Cronkhite: A Fortified Military Post in San Francisco
Fort Cronkhite, located just north of San Francisco, was a WWII Coast Artillery military post that was part of the Harbor Defenses of San Francisco. Fort Cronkhite served Battery Townsley, a 16-inch gun that, constructed with Battery Davis at Fort Funston, was designed to protect San Francisco and the Golden Gate straights from enemy attack.
Barracks at Fort Cronkite
The Broderick-Terry Duel
Following the controversial Compromise of 1850, which admitted California to the union as a free state, politics were intense and heated. Pro-slavery State Supreme Court Judge Terry and staunch anti-slavery candidate Senator Broderick took their disagreement beyond words. Two shots fired, one man dead, two causes continued to battle.
Early 20th-century depiction of the Broderick-Terry duel
Winter 2019-2020 Coho and Steelhead Spawner Survey Summary
By the second week of December, conditions were ideal for coho spawning. However, spawner surveys conducted during the first two weeks of December revealed only one coho salmon redd in both Olema and Redwood Creeks and no coho activity in Cheda Creek. By the end of December, it became apparent that the coho runs in coastal Marin County would be weak, and that survival between the smolt and spawner life stages for these cohorts was very low.
People in waders hike up the center of a swiftly flowing creek carying backpacks and wading poles.
San Francisco Bay Seacoast Defenses 1776-1974
People have always been drawn to the land around San Francisco, because of its sheltered harbor and its rich natural resources. Overtime, as different communities settled here, they would defend their stake in the land against other potential invaders.
Coast Artillery soldiers manning Battery Cranston, SF
Biologists Begin Coyote Tracking Study in the Marin Headlands
Golden Gate continues to see issues with people feeding coyotes, particularly in the Marin Headlands. So this fall, park wildlife biologists will use temporary remote tracking collars to learn about the coyote population size and movements in this area. The study aims to improve coyote coexistence outreach messaging in the park and may provide direct feedback on the success of future management actions.
Coyote with a temporary GPS collar around her neck looks at the camera.
Biologists Survey Blue Whales by Sailboat in Gulf of Farallones
In recent decades, humpback and blue whales have become more abundant in the waters off Central California. This summer, concentrations of blue whales were higher than ever recorded. But Cascadia Research Collective's usual whale survey coverage was limited because of the coronavirus. So, the Colaborative put out a call for for help documenting the unusual blue whale abundance. Biologists Beth Mathews and Jim Taggart jumped at the opportunity.
Close-up of a blue whale spouting at the surface of the ocean.
Concepcion Arguello & Nikolai Rezanov: A Presidio Love Story
In the late eighteenth century, a young Spanish girl and a Russian explorer fell in love at the Presidio. Though challenged by different languages and cultures, the romance of Maria de la Concepcion Marcela Arguello and Nikolai Petrovich Rezanov spawned a legend that continues to capture the hearts of people today.
Painting of Maria de la Concepcion Marcela Arguello & Nikolai Petrovich Rezanov
How Women Saved Muir Woods
The women of San Francisco have so willed. They will preserve the grove. They want to create a park In the picturesque canyon that shall particularly be for the edification of the people of this city” - Marin Journal, December 1st 1904
four white women in front of old car with sign
Army Nurse Corps
Congress established the Army Nurse Corps in 1901. Nurses were the first women in the Army and U.S. Army General Hospital at the Presidio was the first Army hospital to employ them. By 1902, 41 nurses were part of the hospital staff.
African American nurses at Camp Sherman, 1919.
The Kent Family and Conservation
The Kents are complex historical figures. They are associated with the conservationist movement, yet they were also involved in politics. William served in Congress and fought to exclude Chinese and Japanese immigrants from this country, while Elizabeth Kent participated in the women’s suffrage movement.
John Muir and William Kent pose
Monitoring in the Context of Climate Change
Global climate change may be altering ecosystems in the San Francisco Bay Area - changing fundamental processes such as temperature regimes and streamflow patterns. The National Park Service Inventory and Monitoring (I&M) Program conducts monitoring to track changes in plant and animal communities that will help illuminate the effects of climate change on our parks.
Researcher monitors pinnipeds at PORE from a coastal overlook.
Celebrating soils across the National Park System
First in a series of three "In Focus" articles that share insights into the near-universal and far-reaching effects of soils on the ecology, management, and enjoyment of our national parks.
Fossil soils at Cabrillo National Monument reveal marine deposits
Conserving pinnipeds in Pacific Ocean parks in response to climate change
The evolutionary record from previous climate perturbations indicates that marine mammals are highly vulnerable but also remarkably adaptable to climatic change in coastal ecosystems. Consequently, national parks in the Pacific, from Alaska to Hawaii, are faced with potentially dramatic changes in their marine mammal fauna, especially pinnipeds (seals and sea lions).
black harbor seal
Bat Conservation in the San Francisco Bay Area
What is the NPS doing about bat conservation and preventing the spread of White nose syndrome in the San Francisco Bay Area region?
California myotis gets measured and overall health assessed during a mist netting study.
Monitoring Crew Finds Critically Low Numbers of Juvenile Coho in Redwood Creek
This August, the coho and steelhead monitoring crew completed juvenile coho salmon monitoring in Redwood Creek. Normally, juvenile coho monitoring would entail snorkel surveys, plus electrofishing. However due to the coronavirus, they did things a little differently. Since electrofishing requires crewmembers to work in close proximity, the crew did multiple snorkel survey passes instead. They counted only 51 coho while snorkeling over 7.5 km of the Redwood Creek mainstem.
Underwater view of Olema Creek.
The U.S. Army’s San Francisco Port of Embarkation in World War II
During World War II, more than 4,000 voyages by freighters and over 800 by troopships emanating from the San Francisco Port of Embarkation carried nearly 1,650,000 soldiers and 23,600,000 ship tons of cargo to support the efforts of General MacArthur in the Southwest Pacific Area and Admiral Chester Nimitz, Commander in Chief of the Pacific Ocean Area.
Photo of NPS welcome sign.
Coyote Tracking in the Marin Headlands
Beginning fall 2020, Golden Gate National Recreation Area wildlife biologists will use temporary remote tracking collars to learn about the population size and movements of coyotes in the Marin Headlands. Information from this study will be used to improve coyote education and outreach, with a focus on addressing the coyote feeding and habituation issues.
Photo of coyote wearing black radio collar looking at camera.
Dialogues Further Environmental Solutions and Racial Inclusion at Golden Gate
The Racial Justice protests across the world this summer have put a renewed focus on Environmental Justice efforts that have been taking place for decades. Communities of color continue to be at the highest risk for health impacts of local air and water pollution, and the deadly impacts of climate change like flooding and triple digit heat.
Two latina park rangers in front of a colorful Dia de Los Muertos banner.
A Record Year for Western Pond Turtle Reintroductions
In September 2020, scientists released a total of 41 juvenile turtles in Golden Gate National Recreation Area, almost double the amount released in the past three years combined! This is the first year scientists released western pond turtles to Rodeo Lake, now home to 20 new turtle residents. Biologists also released 14 turtles in the Redwood Creek watershed and seven turtles to ‘donor’ ponds near the Tomales Bay Trail in the park’s northern district.
Staff holding two young western pond turtles, one in each hand, prior to releasing them.
Tracking the Return of River Otters: First Results From a Long-term Monitoring Project
Today, observant Bay Area parks visitors may spot North American river otters swimming, hunting, or playing along waterways throughout the area. This was not always the case. Otters were wiped out from the area in the 19th century by fur trapping, habitat loss, and pollution. Their return is not only a visual treat but a positive indicator of ecosystem health. Scientists have been using a combination of methods to document and learn from the otters' ongoing recovery.
Three river otters in a fast-flowing creek.
Mist Netting, Radio Telemetry, and Acoustic Monitoring: What We’re Learning About Bats in Marin
Since 2017, One Tam partners have been collaborating with USGS to conduct the first countywide bat monitoring program in Marin. This October, we dove in to the results from last winter's roost site monitoring, and discussed the implications of what park researchers have learned from three years of bat monitoring.
Researcher smiles while holding a bat with gloved hands.
Summer 2020 Juvenile Coho & Steelhead Monitoring Summary
Results from our juvenile coho salmon basinwide surveys indicate a slight increase for the Olema Creek population and decrease for Redwood Creek when compared to the previous generation. Juvenile estimates were lower than expected for Redwood Creek and slightly higher than expected for Olema Creek given the number of redds observed during the last winter.
Person in a wetsuit snorkeling in a shallow creek.
Ohlones and Coast Miwoks
Native Americans have called the San Francisco Bay region home for over 10,000 years. Park areas south of the Golden Gate, from the San Francisco Peninsula, to the East Bay and south to Monterey, are the aboriginal lands of the Ohlones (also called Costanoans).
drawing of ohlone looking at the bay
Places of World War II in the San Francisco Bay Area
World War II dominated the social, economic and political landscapes of the mid-20th century, setting in motion momentous events that still shape the world we live in today. The communities that ring the San Francisco Bay were irrevocably altered by that wartime era and still bear its visible marks in the remains of military bases and coastal defense fortifications, ships and shipbuilding facilities, worker housing and day-care facilities. This travel itinerary highlights 31
Chinatown, San Francisco
Not Your Ordinary Culverts: Bringing Native Oysters Back to the Presidio
This year the Presidio is expanding the wetlands along its northern waterfront at a site known as Quartermaster Reach. The project will allow water to flow through new culverts, or underground water tunnels, beneath Mason Street. This will create seven acres of new habitat for birds, plants, and other native species. But the culverts for this project will not be your usual culverts. They’ll also help create habitat for native Olympia oysters.
Close-up of tiny Olympia oysters.
New Marshland and Trail Open in the Presidio on December 11, 2020
On November 13, the Presidio Trust removed an earthen berm and some sheet pilings that were preventing water from flowing through new culverts (and oyster habitat!) beneath Mason Street. As the tide rose, salt water from the Bay and Crissy Marsh flooded through for the first time to meet the fresh water of the Tennessee Hollow Watershed. Now, visitors can get their first up-close look.
Socially distanced people in safety gear, planting wetland plants in a barren, muddy landscape.
Saving the Sandwort: Reviving One of California’s Rarest Plants
Near Fort Cronkhite, a watershed that once contained a barren parking lot now hosts a more robust population of one of the rarest plants in California - marsh sandwort. In late October, park ecologists planted 45 endangered marsh sandworts in the Lower Rodeo Valley area of Golden Gate National Recreation Area. These plants were introduced to supplement a population planted in 2011 as part of the Rodeo Valley wetland restoration.
Freshly planted marsh sandworts, and a person crouching down to plant another.
2020 Coho Salmon Spawning Season Off to a Dry Start
After a dry year marked by wildfire, the coho salmon spawning season is off to a similarly dry beginning. As of the end of November, the salmonid monitoring team had not spotted any coho salmon in Redwood and Olema Creeks. Fortunately, it is still early in the spawning season.
A large greenish-brown fish with black spots swims over a rocky streambed.
Scientists Analyze Feathers to Understand the Origins of Sharp-shinned Hawks Migrating Over the Bay Area and Beyond
Sharp-shinned hawks, or “sharpies” in birder-speak, breed in dense northern or high-elevation forests where they are difficult to find and track. Some overwinter in the US, while others migrate all the way to southern Central America. When they’re heading south along popular raptor migration routes, or flyways, is when they’re easiest to spot. But their large-scale movement patterns are also poorly understood.
Small hawk with a shiny new band on its leg, being held in a banders fingers.
Fort Mason Historic District Cultural Landscape
Fort Mason is a green sward within the dense urban grid of San Francisco, perched on a point of land on the northern tip of the San Francisco peninsula at the edge of the San Francisco Bay. Fort Mason’s 68.5 acres are but one small sub-unit of the immense Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The military structures on site date from the 1850s through the 1950s and illustrate the evolution of military landscape planning and architecture over a one hundred year period.
U.S. Coast Guard Fort Point Station Cultural Landscape
The United States Coast Guard Fort Point Station is a five acre historic district located in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area in California, sited within the boundaries of the Presidio of San Francisco NHL. The U.S.C.G. Fort Point Station period of significance, 1915 to 1964, includes the period of initial development at its existing site, until the the time new lifesaving equipment was introduced that drastically altered the way in which the site was used.
Officer in Charge Quarters
Series: National Park Service Geodiversity Atlas
The servicewide Geodiversity Atlas provides information on <a href="https://www.nps.gov/subjects/geology/geoheritage-conservation.htm">geoheritage</a> and <a href="https://www.nps.gov/subjects/geology/geodiversity.htm">geodiversity</a> resources and values all across the National Park System to support science-based management and education. The <a href="https://www.nps.gov/orgs/1088/index.htm">NPS Geologic Resources Division</a> and many parks work with National and International <a href="https://www.nps.gov/subjects/geology/park-geology.htm">geoconservation</a> communities to ensure that NPS abiotic resources are managed using the highest standards and best practices available.
park scene mountains
Series: NPS Environmental Achievement Awards
Since 2002, the National Park Service (NPS) has awarded Environmental Achievement (EA) Awards to recognize staff and partners in the area of environmental preservation, protection and stewardship.
A vehicle charges at an Electric Vehicle charging station at Thomas Edison National Historical Park
Series: Red Power on Alcatraz, Perspectives 50 Years Later
How far would you go to fight for your community?
Indians of All Tribes, American Indian Occupation of Alcatraz, 50th Anniversary Commemoration
Series: Coastal Geomorphology—Storms of Record
Storms can bring about significant coastal change as well as substantial economic damage and loss in the human environment. Read about a few storms of interest that have since made history due to their unique intensity, characteristics, or impacts.
aerial view of a major storm along the northwest coast of the united states and canada
Series: Physiographic Provinces
Descriptions of the physiographic provinces of the United States, including maps, educational material, and listings of Parks for each.
George B. Dorr, founder of Acadia National Park
Scientist Profile: Sarah Codde, Marine Ecologist
Meet Sarah Codde, a Marine Ecologist with the San Francisco Bay Area Inventory & Monitoring Network. She specializes in marine mammals, and leads the elephant seal and harbor seal monitoring programs at Point Reyes National Seashore and Golden Gate National Recreation Area. What’s it like to study 6,000 pound mammals that spend half their time in the ocean and half their time on land? Read Sarah’s story to find out!
Marine Ecologist Sarah Codde pauses for a portrait while surveying elephant seals on Drake's beach.
Scientist Profile: Taylor Ellis, Wildlife Technician
How do biologists survey endangered northern spotted owls in the forests of Marin county? Wildlife technician Taylor Ellis has some tricks up his sleeve for finding these charismatic birds. Read about his adventures as a field wildlife biologist and how he got to be where he is today.
Wildlife technician Taylor Ellis smiles outside Point Reyes National Seashore headquarters.
Scientist Profile: Dr. Alison Forrestel, Supervisory Vegetation Ecologist
As part of a larger effort to the dynamic women doing science in our parks, we are featuring Alison Forrestel, Supervisory Vegetation Ecologist at Golden Gate National Recreation Area. What’s it like to manage a vegetation program for a huge, urban National Park? Read Alison’s story to find out!
Alison Forrestel in the field.
Scientist Profile: Michael Reichmuth, Fisheries Biologist
Meet Michael Reichmuth, fisheries biologist for the San Francisco Bay Area Inventory & Monitoring Network. Find out more about why he’s so excited about fish, and how he got to be where he is today.
Fisheries biologist michael reichmuth poses by a creek with a smolt trap.
Climate Change Communication Series: Dr. Patrick Gonzalez, Principal Climate Change Scientist
Dr. Gonzalez is the principal climate change scientist for the National Park Service. He’s also an associate adjunct professor at UC Berkeley and a lead author on four reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the organization awarded a share of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. My conversation with Dr. Gonzalez revealed that while climate change and its intersections with human narratives are infinitely complex, the simplest solutions are often the best antidotes.
Patrick measuring the girth of a large tree in Yosemite National Park.
Climate Change Communication Series: Dr. Will Elder, Visual Information Specialist
In this interview, we dive into strategies and nuances for climate change communication with Dr. Will Elder. Dr. Elder is a paleontologist and the media team lead for Golden Gate. As a visual information specialist, he also interprets the natural and human history of the park to visitors through exhibits, virtual content, and other media. Through conversations like these, we can work together to effectively convey the story of climate change.
Ranger gestures in front of a backdrop of rocky bluffs.
Coho Salmon: Habitat and Climate Matter
Endangered coho salmon in coastal streams within the Golden Gate National Recreational Area and Point Reyes National Seashore may be on the verge of disappearing from these sites. These populations are affected by what happens in both their stream and ocean habitats.
Aerial view of the Giacomini wetland and Lagunitas Creek mouth after restoration efforts
Fort Baker Cultural Landscape
Fort Baker is situated on the shore of the Marin Headlands in San Francisco Bay. It is one of the nation’s earliest coastal defense artillery batteries, and is significant in the development of the American coastal defense system. The period of significance is 1867 to 1946. Fort Baker, along with Forts Barry and Cronkhite, was included as a nationally-significant historic district in the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.
Battery overlooking the bay
Early Detection News - 2019
The Invasive Species Early Detection Team (ISED) conducted surveys in 2019 at Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GOGA), Point Reyes National Seashore(PORE), John Muir National Historic Site (JOMU), and Pinnacles National Park (PINN). Noteworthy detections this year included yellow star thistle and purple star thistle at GOGA, poroporo and Jimson weed at PORE, cheat grass and smilo grass at PINN, and stinkwort at JOMU.
A clump of green grass (cheat grass) laying on the ground
First Redds and Fish: 2021 Salmonid Spawner Season
It's been a slow salmonid spawner season in San Francisco Bay Area I&M Network parks with the first coho redds and fish observed in January. Stream flows have been low, but there's hope for a few more spawners to enter the system with several storm events in the forecast.
A spawner salmon tail poking out from under a log in a stream
Salmonid Diet Study
Scientists at Golden Gate National Recreation Area are taking a look at salmonid diets in the park. They found a variety of aquatic invertebrates including the highly invasive New Zealand mudsnail.
A small snail under a microscope lens
Zeroing In On Spawner Surveys
Just before Thanksgiving, the fisheries crew with the San Francisco Bay Area Network Coho & Steelhead Monitoring Program conducted “Zero Count Surveys” along the lower sections of Redwood and Olema Creek. Zero counts are spawner surveys that occur before winter flows permit fish passage throughout a creek.
A lagoon surrounded by vegetation
Scientist Profile: Alex Iwaki, Hydrology Monitor
"While I was in college, I didn't want to go back home for the summer to work at the local grocery. I applied for a bunch of environmental internships and got a fisheries internship in Colorado. I had no prior experience or any interest in fish, but I thought 'why not?' I went out there, learned a lot, and had an amazing time. After the fisheries internship, I knew I wanted to continue to work in natural sciences."
Volunteers Find Fewer Than 2,000 Monarchs Overwintering in California in 2020
Each fall, western monarch butterflies migrate to the California coast, to protected groves where they huddle together and wait out the cold. This fall, as the monarchs settled into their winter homes, observers noticed fewer monarchs. A lot fewer monarchs.
Cluster of overwintering monarch butterflies before their most significant population crash to date.
An Obituary For a Coyote
Resting peacefully in the shade of a Coyote brush, her grayish-brown long torso was cradled by the wetland grasses of Muir Beach. The left eye, half open, the whitish fur of her left big ear exposed to the sunlight, the bushy tail curled up like a caterpillar, hiding the hind legs.The front legs looked as if they were carefully and gently placed, one on top of the other, reminding me of how a new mother swaddles her baby before putting her to sleep.
Sun shining over a shady patch of wetland.
San Francisco: Where the Plates Meet
The San Francisco Bay Area sports “coasts with abundant marine and terrestrial resources, a sheltered deep-water harbor, hills and mountains with plentiful forests, and streams and rivers providing water and transportation routes, including to the goldfields of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.” As a result, it has attracted people to it for millennia. But why does the area feature such enchanting diversity in the first place?
Coastal rock formation featuring four differently colored and textured types of rocks.
Scientists Discover Silent Threats to Pacific Coast Salmon Populations
For decades, coho salmon returning to spawn in urban Pacific Northwest streams have been mysteriously dying in the aftermath of large storms. Now, after a painstaking search for answers, a team of scientists have found the culprit: a previously undescribed chemical nicknamed 6PPD-quinone. Meanwhile, scientists in California’s Central Valley noticed odd behavior and high mortality among juvenile Chinook salmon in multiple hatcheries just last winter.
Scientists Use Sediment Cores to Look Into the Past at Rodeo Lagoon
Have you ever wondered what an environment looked like in the past? Or how much human-caused change has altered an area? So have scientists at Golden Gate National Recreation Area and the US Geological Survey! Sediment cores can act like windows into the past, containing information like what animals lived there and what their surroundings were like. In fall 2020, scientists collected about 21 four-inch sediment cores from throughout Rodeo Lagoon.
Fingers hold a small clam shell found in a sediment core.
2021 Spawner Surveys Continue in Marin County Creeks with Mixed Results
The San Francisco Bay Area Network fisheries crew continued their weekly surveys up Marin County creeks in search of spawners and redds. Surveys produced mixed results with redd counts on Olema creek higher than the previous generation, but no new spawners or redds on Redwood Creek.
A person with a snorkel and wetsuit floats in a shallow stream among downed trees
Listening for Owls: A Multi-agency Collaboration to Preserve Spotted Owl Habitat Across the West
For over 25 years, biologists from the National Park Service and several other agencies have collected spotted owl monitoring data to inform forest management that is guided by the multi-agency Northwest Forest Plan. Yet traditional field surveys for spotted owls have become less effective as their numbers have dwindled. Thus in 2021, the Northwest Forest Plan’s spotted owl monitoring design is transitioning to remote acoustic monitoring (also known as passive monitoring).
Audio recording unit, with microphones on either side, mounted on a tree trunk.
Wrapping Up Coho Spawner Season
The 2020-2021 coho salmon spawning season has come to an end in the San Francisco Bay Area parks. Unfortunately it is likely one of the worst seasons on record for Redwood Creek with no live coho observed and only one steelhead carcass. With the spawning season over, the salmonid team will transition to smolt trapping operations.
A close up of fish tail
Biologists Begin Acoustic Monitoring to Study Spotted and Barred Owls
National Park Service biologists have been tracking federally threatened northern spotted owls in the forests of Point Reyes National Seashore and Golden Gate National Recreation Area for decades. But this February, biologists began to supplement traditional surveys with a new method: remote acoustic monitoring. Biologists also received a grant to use acoustic monitoring to conduct the first comprehensive inventory of invasive barred owls on park lands.
Map of northern Marin County, CA, with a haxagonal grid overlayed on the study area.
For This Week, A More Personal Note on Education in Watersheds
Hi, my name is Dustin Geisen and I am part of the San Francisco Bay Area Network fisheries crew. I serve in the California Conservation Corps Watershed Stewards Program in partnership with AmeriCorps (WSP). Today, I am excited to share about a specific part of my service that I started this week: teaching for a WSP education series called Wonders of Watersheds (WOW!).
Dustin Geisen in waters and a safety vest, knee-deep in a brisk creek collecting a water sample.
The Role of Women at Marin Headlands Coastal Defense Sites
Women were not always able to play a prominent role at the coastal defense sites of the Marin Headlands due to societal restrictions that largely barred their participation through WW2 and Cold War. That being said, here we highlight two women who contributed to the lasting stories and legacies of Battery Townsley and Nike Missile Site SF-88.
John Martini (left) speaks with Col. Susan Cheney (right) in the underground Nike missile magazine.
Funding Granted for Much-needed Monarch Conservation Efforts in Marin County
Working within the structure of the One Tamalpais Collaborative, the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy received $400,000 in funding through the California Wildlife Conservation Board’s pollinator rescue program to invest in protection of monarch butterflies in Marin County.
Close up photo of an adult monarch butterfly perched on green vegetation.
What’s All the Stink About in Rodeo Lagoon?
Large concentrations of various types of cyanobacteria, called algae blooms, are becoming more frequent at Rodeo Lagoon. They turn the water a green pea soup color and their collapse doesn’t just smell awful. It can cause oxygen in the lagoon to drop to levels that can’t support life. Furthermore, some cyanobacteria produce toxins that can cause serious injury or death. Scientists collected water samples to learn if toxin-producing species are behind Rodeo Lagoon's blooms.
Portion of a cyanobacterium viewed under a microscope.
New StoryMap Helps Visitors Protect Foothill Yellow-legged Frogs
One Tam partners are making a difference for foothill yellow-legged frogs in Marin, and are seeking the community’s help during their especially vulnerable breeding season. A new StoryMap is now available to help visitors protect them while enjoying parks in Marin. Using long-term monitoring data from One Tam partners, the story details why this indicator species is special, what One Tam partners are doing to support them, and how visitors can help.
Brownish frog with a white chin and a yellow belly, sitting in shallow, flowing water.
San Bruno Elfin Monitoring Leads to New Clues and Questions at Milagra Ridge
The Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy’s Park Stewardship Program has been keeping tabs on San Bruno elfin butterflies and their host plants at Milagra Ridge since 1999. Just recently, program staff finished analyzing the results from their 2020 monitoring season, and the news is generally good. At the same time, some of their findings have left them with new questions.
Red caterpillar on newly opening cluster of yellow flowers.
Celebrating Signs of Resilience in Mission Blue Butterfly Populations
With the 2021 Mission blue butterfly flight season approaching, monitoring for their larvae at Milagra Ridge in Golden Gate National Recreation Area has already yielded some hopeful findings. In addition, biologists have finished analyzing their adult Mission blue monitoring results from the 2020 flight seasons at both Milagra Ridge and Oakwood Valley. They were excited to find signs of resilience in both butterfly populations.
Camouflaged green larva on lupine leaves.
The 2021 smolt trapping season has begun
With the onset of spring, the San Francisco Bay Area Inventory and Monitoring (SFAN) fisheries crew has moved to a new form of monitoring: smolt trapping. Data gathered from the traps can help to estimate ocean survival and productivity and assess rates of survival through the winter season.
A wide mouthed funnel attached to a pvc pipe leads to a wooden box in a stream bed.
From the Field: Winter 2021 Low Rainfall Impacting Salmonid Populations
In this salmonid monitoring field update, learn how a historically low rainfall for Winter/Spring 2021 is affecting coho salmon and steelhead trout monitoring results.
Photo of stream channel linking the lagoon and the ocean at Muir Beach, near Redwood Creek
Climate Change Communication Series: Dr. Gillian Bowser, Research Scientist
Dr. Gillian Bowser studies small creatures that tell a big story. Her research on pollinators demonstrates how insects are sentinels of change because their short generations mean they evolve faster and can quickly respond to changes in our climate. In this interview, Dr. Bowser explains how we need to focus less on the specific impacts of climate change and more on the protection of the greater system.
Dr. Bowser smiles surrounded by a field of wildflowers.
New Perspectives On Old Teachings
"In a few hours, I will be surrounded by our community of volunteers, who have come to celebrate ‘Eid’ in the parks, a festival that marks the end of Ramadan and is celebrated by Muslims across the world. On this special day, my reflection takes me back to when I first learned about the five pillars of Islam. While in my childhood, these duties were confined to the mosque and my community, in my adulthood, I started to see these pillars show up in my connection with nature."
Two women holding an enormous, overflowing bag of freshly pulled weeds.
Point Blue Ecologists Use Novel Tracking Technology to Unravel Mysterious Migratory Patterns of Swainson’s Thrushes
April 2021 - Where do different populations of a migratory songbird go when they migrate? This mystery was first put forth by Audubon scientists over a century ago, and the answer might hold the key to protecting declining populations of a once-common species, the Swainson’s thrush. In 2014 Point Blue Conservation Science ecologists began a migration study to investigate, and the results were published in prominent scientific journal, Nature.
Swainson's thrush with geolocation tag and zoomed in picture of tag
From Source to Sea: Discover What Connects Watersheds to You and Me
Watershed Stewards Program members Samantha Kuglen and Dustin Geisen made a video highlighting the National Park Service’s salmonid smolt trapping program in Point Reyes National Seashore and Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The National Park Service San Francisco Bay Area Network fisheries crew monitors coho salmon and steelhead trout smolts from mid-April to late May.
A ruler with a silver fish measuring at nearly 6 in
Scientist Profile: Darren Fong, Aquatic Ecologist
Meet Darren Fong, aquatic ecologist for Golden Gate National Recreation Area and lead scientist for the SFAN streamflow monitoring program. Discover how Darren's fascination with aquatic life and freshwater ecosystems began and learn how he got to be where he is today.
Ecologist in NPS uniform at rocky intertidal monitoring site checks clipboard
Top 10 Summer Tips at Golden Gate NPS
Are you ready to explore your local national park this summer? Golden Gate National Recreation Area and its park sites, have so much to offer for visitors of all ages, abilities, and interests!
View of the Bay and trail that faces the Marin Headlands
Low Stream Flows Cause Smolt Trapping to End Early
For the first time in the Coho and Steelhead Monitoring Program’s history, the monitoring crew had to stop outmigrant coho salmon smolt trapping early due to low flows. They removed the traps from both Olema and Redwood Creeks. This is just one of many indicators showing how severe the drought is this year.
Damp creek bed where water should be flowing at the entrance to the Olema Creek smolt trap.
California Ringlets Get Helping Hand Returning to Presidio Grasslands
The California ringlet was last seen in San Francisco’s Presidio in 2007. Grassland habitat loss and degradation from before the Presidio became a park contributed to its extirpation. Now, after more than two decades of grassland restoration, the time is ripe for this lost butterfly to return. But the California ringlets can't return on their own. They are about the size of a quarter, and they're weak flyers. So this spring, the butterflies have been getting a helping hand.
Small butterfly the color of dried grass.
One Tam is Excited to Announce the Return of the Tamalpais Bee Lab in 2021!
In collaboration with Dr. Gretchen LeBuhn and her lab at San Francisco State University, One Tam is continuing our efforts to monitor and understand more about Mount Tamalpais’ wild bees and other pollinators. Building on the initial 2017 survey of Mt. Tam’s wild bees, we’ll be expanding monitoring to Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Point Reyes National Seashore, Marin Water, California State Parks, and Marin County Parks from 2021-2025.
Close-up of a black & yellow bee dusted with yellow pollen inside a bright orange & yellow flower.
West Coast National Parks Work with NOAA to Better Understand Ocean Acidification in the Rocky Intertidal and Beyond
Ocean acidification (OA) is a huge threat to marine life. But it is hard to track remotely on a large scale. So this summer, seven West Coast national parks are teaming up with the 2021 NOAA West Coast Ocean Acidification Cruise. They’ll collect water samples in-person to check several OA indicators. Their data will help paint the most detailed picture yet of OA conditions up and down the coast, from parks’ rocky intertidal zones to dozens of miles offshore.
Collage of different rocky intertidal creatures photographed against a white background.
Marin County Fine Scale Vegetation Map Complete
Since 2018, a broad partnership co-led by the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy has been working towards creating a fine scale vegetation map of Marin County. After collecting high resolution aerial imagery, LiDAR, and on-the-ground data, they released a draft “Lifeform Map” last year with 22 vegetation classes. This June, they finalized that map and completed it’s fine scale counterpart!
Brightly colored map of southern Marin County, California.
Bay Area Parks Work with NOAA to Better Understand Ocean Acidification in the Rocky Intertidal and Beyond
Ocean acidification (OA) is a huge threat to marine life. But for now, it is harder to track remotely on a large scale. So this summer, seven West Coast national parks are teaming up with the 2021 NOAA West Coast Ocean Acidification Cruise. They’re collecting water samples in-person to check several OA indicators. Their data will help paint the most detailed picture yet of OA conditions up and down the coast, from parks’ rocky intertidal zones to dozens of miles offshore.
Large, impressive, white ship with several decks and equipped with lots of scientific equipment.
Juvenile Salmon Summer Monitoring: Electrofishing Surveys in Redwood Creek
The San Francisco Bay Area Inventory & Monitoring Network salmon team is continuing their summer juvenile salmon surveys and are currently performing electrofishing surveys throughout Redwood Creek in Marin County, CA. Electrofishing is a common technique in fisheries biology for sampling fish populations and determining species health, abundance, and density.
Three staff members stand in a creek with one holding a long rod with a metal ring in the water.
Monitoring Team Counts Fewer Harbor Seals than Usual Across Marin County in 2021
Last year, COVID-19 meant that biologists weren’t able to do their usual harbor seal surveys at park sites throughout Marin County. The few surveys they were able to do left them with more questions than answers. Namely, where did a large portion of Drakes Estero’s seal population disappear to? This year, the monitoring team hoped to find clues. But with the 2021 season now wrapping up and countywide harbor seal counts below average, some of the mystery remains.
Three harbor seals resting on a sandbar.
Second Round of Invasive Plant Surveys on Mount Tam Yields Few New Priority Weed Populations
Brushing and flossing every day isn’t a glamorous task. But if you don’t do it, you risk serious dental health issues. So it is with Invasive plant surveys. They aren’t flashy, but the health of ecosystems depends on them. On Mount Tamalpais, invasive plant surveys are coordinated by the One Tam Early Detection and Rapid Response (EDRR) program. In mid-June, the EDRR program finished a second cycle of early detection surveys along Mt. Tam’s road and trail network.
Two people use a long torch to burn an invasive plant on a grassy ridge overlooking the ocean.
San Francisco Bay Area Network 2019 Long-term Monitoring Updates
The San Francisco Bay Area Inventory & Monitoring Network has created a new product for sharing our science with the Bay Area parks community: an immersive, multimedia StoryMap! Discover key highlights from the 2019 monitoring season along with striking photos, interactive maps, annotated graphs, audio recordings, and more.
Person sitting among ferns beside an enormous tree, recording owl data.
Sgt. Leonard Foulk fought and was blinded during the Battle of Attu. He recovered at Letterman General Hospital in the Presidio of San Francisco. At the Presidio, we was paired with a guide dog and received the Bronze Star for his service.
A man in uniform hugs a dog against his chest
How Will Climate Change Impact Muir Woods?
The impacts related to climate change are evident throughout the redwood forests of California. At Muir Woods, climate change has resulted in a significant impacts on the iconic trees, wildlife, and annual precipitation.
Redwood Creek at Muir Woods
2021 Harbor Seal Monitoring Updates
Since monitoring started in 2000, monitors have counted an average of nearly 1,100 harbor seal pups born each spring at the main harbor seal locations in Marin County. This year, they counted only 921. Monitors also count harbor seals during the summer molt season. This is when all age groups come onshore to shed their fur. It's the best time to estimate Marin's total harbor seal population. Unfortunately, the 2021 molt season had the lowest total seal count on record.
Dozens of harbor seals clustered together on a sand bar at low tide.
Migration: How Birds React to Climate Change Paints a Picture for People
Birds are sensitive to environmental changes around them. They also are easy to identify and count, so there’s a wealth of data about where they live and their abundance. For this reason, scientists and park staff can focus on shifts in bird populations as a way to monitor the changing ecosystem.
Spotted owl perched on a redwood tree branch
Reflections on the 2020 Woodward Fire: Understanding the Impacts of Fire on Point Reyes Ecosystems
The Woodward Fire, which ignited in August 2020 and burned nearly 5,000 acres of Point Reyes National Seashore wilderness, provides valuable counterpoint to the ecological devastation seen from many of other 2020 California fires. It presents a unique opportunity to observe the effects of a mixed-severity fire on an ecologically rich patchwork of coastal California habitats.
Images of different vegetation types that burned with different severity in Woodward FIre
As Drought Continues, Young Coho and Steelhead in Redwood Creek Need a Helping Hand
This summer continues to be a challenge for the San Francisco Bay Area Network Fisheries Team and the aquatic life that inhabit our coastal streams. During our summer habitat monitoring, we found several drying pools in lower Redwood Creek in Golden Gate National Recreation Area. We also noted fish displaying signs of distress like rising to the surface for air. Our team is working closely with park managers and regulatory agencies to help save these young coho and steelhead.
An aerator pumps air into a small pool a fisheries crew prepares to rescue the pool's fish.
Alcatraz Hosted Unprecedented Numbers of Waterbirds During 2021 Nesting Season
Waterbirds, which nested on Alcatraz Island long before people built upon it, have been reclaiming parts of the island in recent decades. But Alcatraz Natural Resources staff hadn't seen anything quite like the 2021 nesting season. It was one for the record books, with numbers far surpassing previous years' estimates. It’s been quite a journey for one species in particular—the Brandt’s cormorant. The Island's great blue herons and peregrine falcons also had a good year.
Sleek black bird with blue eyes and throat patch opens its mouth wide to feed its chicks.
Return of the Fire Defenders in Your Backyard
Non-Indigenous land managers have suppressed fire for years which has led to what we now call “Fire Season.” So now some land managers are slowly reintroducing fire regimes, such as prescribed and cultural burns. These have immense power in protecting against catastrophic fires. But bringing back fire regimes isn’t necessarily an easy option close to our homes and communities. So what other opportunities do we have to support local fire resilience?
Uniformed NPS staff kneeling by a plot of grassland overlooking a bay, writing on a clipboard.
Womxn of Color Mentorship Program Builds Lasting Bonds at the Parks Conservancy
In January, twelve staff from the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy came together for a pilot online Womxn of Color (WOC) Mentorship Program. This program created a space like no other. A space that came to life by a sharing of inter-generational and multi-cultural stories and experiences of womxn, and what it means to grow up, get educated, have a career, and walk and move in a world that continues to be challenged by race and gender inequities.
Lively watercolor bringing to life 13 womxn around a yellow "Women of Color Warriors" banner.
Winter 2020-2021 Coho and Steelhead Spawner Survey Summary
Due to drier than normal conditions, the 2020-2021 spawners needed a very wet start to the spawning season to access their creeks. That did not occur. The Olema Valley Rain Gauge only recorded 2.37 inches of rain in November. This was okay, but not enough to get the spawning season underway. To our dismay, storm after storm went by with only small amounts of rain each time. Finally, the creeks rose enough at the end of December to allow some coho to migrate upstream.
Rear half of an adult salmonid decaying on a rocky streambed.
Fog, Redwoods and a Changing Climate
Explore the ways in which climate change will impact life at Muir Woods National Monument and people around the world with the changing availability of water.
Light pours through thick fog in a redwood forest.
Fire & Redwoods—What Does the Future Hold for this Ancient Species?
Coast redwood trees’ evolutionary adaptation to fire–sprouting–means they can survive. What does this mean in the age of climate change and mega-fires?
Redwood sprouts from a tree after a fire.
A Climate Resilient Future for Muir Woods
Solutions to building a climate resilient redwood forest.
A couple hiking on the Main Trail at Muir Woods.
POET Newsletter September 2014
Pacific Ocean Education Team (POET) newsletter from September 2014. Articles include: Sea Star Wasting Disease; Corallivore: Crown of Thorns Starfish Wreak Havoc in American Samoa — The NPS Responds; Seafloor in 3D; and Coral Bleaching Monitoring on Guam.
A large, red-colored sunflower sea star that appears to be melting or disintegrating.
Series: Pacific Ocean Education Team (POET) Newsletters
From 2009 to 2015, the Pacific Ocean Education Team published a series of short newsletters about the health of the ocean at various National Park Service sites in and around the Pacific Ocean. Topics covered included the 2010 tsunami, marine debris, sea star wasting disease, ocean acidification, and more.
Ocean waves wash in from the right onto a forested and rocky shoreline.
Blue and "Other Than Honorable" Discharges
World War II had an impact on the social landscape of the United States. Millions of Americans mobilized to join the war effort, leaving their rural homes for urban centers like San Francisco. For LGBTQ+ servicemen, who were once isolated, they found community for the first time. While facing ‘the enemy’ on the battlefield, they also fought discrimination in the barracks.
Soldiers unload a gun at Aquatic Park, San Francisco
Gender, Expression, and WWII
Explore the role of gender, expression, and WWII in lives of women and men in the military. Women joined the Armed Forces and military men had access to female impersonation through G.I. shows. The roles of men and women in society shifted during WWII.
This is the Army, three soldiers dressed in costume and feathers, perform in drag
POET Newsletter February 2014
Pacific Ocean Education Team (POET) newsletter from February 2014. Articles include: A Beacon of Light for the Channel Islands; A Challenging Place; Isolation within Isolation; Destruction Island Lighthouse
A black and white historic photo of the Destruction Island lighthouse tower on a bluff top.
Letterman Hospital and the HIV Epidemic
Parklands of Golden Gate National Recreation Area incorporate San Francisco, San Mateo and Marin counties. All of which, envelope overlapping military histories, and social movements that influenced each other. This included military bases and the Presidio’s Letterman Army Hospital. LGBTQ military personnel faced the military ban, discrimination and in 1981: the HIV/AIDs epidemic.
Letterman Army Medical Center was a 550-bed hospital
Cold War, Lavender Scare, and LGBTQ+ Activism
The Nike Missile Site SF-88, is a Cold War era military site In the Marin Headlands. During the Cold War, there were close to 300 of these sites around the U.S. armed with powerful missiles. The fear of the enemy, the fear of the ‘other’ that powered this missile defense system, is the same sentiment that fueled the military ban on LGBTQ+ people.
Nike Missiles in launch position at Nike base SF-88L, the Marin Headlands.
Armed Forces Disciplinary Control Board
The Armed Forces Disciplinary Control Board served as an agent of harassment for LGBTQ servicemen and the establishments they patronized. As raids and arrests continued, many LGBTQ+ people fought to protect the few places they felt safe. Local bars and clubs admonished by the AFDCB, became unintentional epicenters for this fight.
The front of the Black Cat Cafe
Scientist Profile: Lisa Schomaker, Botanist
Meet Lisa Schomaker, botanist for the San Francisco Bay Area Inventory & Monitoring Network. Discover how Lisa cultivated an early love of the outdoors into a career studying plant communities in national parks. Plus, get Lisa's perspective on what it's like to monitor the diverse ecosystems of the San Francisco Bay Area!
Botanist Lisa Schomaker is pictured smiling.
What Are Transects, and Why Are They Important for Monitoring Natural Resources?
Ever wondered what those long tape measures botanists and field technicians use, anyway? They're called transects. Join plant community monitoring technician Mackenzie Morris as she breaks down why transects are so important for monitoring natural resources.
Field technician uses a long piece of tape to conduct measurements on a vegetation community.
Coast Live Oak Woodland Biodiversity Hotspot Under Threat by Sudden Oak Death
What impact could prescribed and cultural burnings have on the distribution of Sudden Oak Death? Community plant monitoring bio tech Danielle Parson's reflects on her experiences monitoring oak woodland plant communities that are suffering from Sudden Oak Death. and considers what it would take to collaboratively steward these special places.
Photo of sunlit oak tree grove.
Trials, Trails, and Tribulations of a Biological Plant Field Technician: Perspectives on Poison Oak
Although poison oak can cause uncomfortable skin rashes, it is a vital part of California native plant communities. Join biological plant technician Mackenzie Morris as she explores the trials and tribulations of being exposed to poison oak as part of her work stewarding the native plant communities of the San Francisco Bay Area National Parks.
Close up photo of plant with red and green leaves.
Marin Bat Project Resumes Radio Telemetry After Covid-19 Hiatus; Continues Acoustic Monitoring
After a long hiatus due to concerns of the unknown risk of transferring COVID-19 from humans to bats, the Marin Bat Monitoring Project team was finally able to safely resume the bat-handling portion of our research this summer.
White gloved hands hold a small, furry bat.
Rare Damselflies in Distress: Scientists Work to Sustain an At-Risk Species in the Presidio
This year has been a roller coaster for scientists keeping tabs on the Bay Area’s most at-risk insect—the San Francisco forktail damselfly. They’ve had some good news—the first population estimate in five years revealed stable numbers despite the drought—but also been confronted with diminishing water levels threatening the species' remaining stronghold near Fort Point like never before.
Iridescent black, green, and blue insect with a long, slender abdomen and long, folded wings.
Kings Ride the Atmospheric River into Unexpected Places
On Sunday, October 24th, 2021 a highly anticipated atmospheric river swept through the Bay Area, dumping over a foot of rain on Mount Tamalpais. Besides inciting disbelief in drought-accustomed Californians, this weather event has had very new and interesting impacts on anadromous salmonids (salmon, trout, and their relatives that split their lives between freshwater and ocean environments).
Chinook salmon swimming side-by-side, spawning.
Can San Francisco Parks Support the Reintroduction of California Quail?
It’s ironic: the official bird of San Francisco and the State of California, the native California quail, is locally extinct within the city of San Francisco. Land managers have mused about reintroducing the iconic species. But what would it take?
Adult quail mid-stride. © er-birds / Photo 101950384 / 2021-11 / iNaturalist.org / CC BY-4.0
Climate Corner: What do Heavy Autumn Rains Mean for California’s Drought Status?
● Reconciling record rainfall in October with continued drought predictions for California<br> ● Predictions for winter 2021, including La Niña<br> ● How La Niña and El Niño cycles may start to shift with the changing climate
Map of the USA showing how fall temperatures are departing from previous averages
Kings Continue to Make a Splash in Bay Area Streams
This year Redwood Creek, Olema Creek, and Pine Gulch are all playing host to adult Chinook salmon, also known as king salmon due to their impressive size, for the first time in monitoring history. To date, our San Francisco Bay Area Network fisheries crew has recorded over 80 Chinook across the creeks we monitor! For comparison, the highest historic number of adult Chinook for Lagunitas Creek, the nearest creek with a frequent spawning run, was 65 in winter 2018-2019.
Two people kneeling on either side of a large, light-colored salmon carcass.
New Research Tests a Common Assumption about Protecting Birds
A recent study sheds light on the value of protected areas like national parks for conserving wild birds, with some surprising results.
Small, yellow-orange bird and a narrow, pinkish beak.
Team Leads Successful Search for Invasive Thoroughwort on Mount Tamalpais
Keeping invasive plants at bay is a powerful way to help native plants and wildlife flourish. But that’s no easy task when you aren’t quite sure where they are; first, you have to find them. The One Tam Conservation Management Team recently set out to do just that to help land managers keep one particular species of concern off of upper Mount Tamalpais: thoroughwort (<em>Ageratina adenophora</em>).
Person heading down a steep, grassy slope into a narrow gully.
Changing Patterns of Water Availability May Change Vegetation Composition in US National Parks
Across the US, changes in water availability are altering which plants grow where. These changes are evident at a broad scale. But not all areas experience the same climate in the same way, even within the boundaries of a single national park. A new dataset gives park managers a valuable tool for understanding why vegetation has changed and how it might change in the future under different climate-change scenarios.
Green, orange, and dead grey junipers in red soil, mountains in background
December 2021 Rainfall Guides Coho Salmon Up West Marin Creeks
Almost three weeks of near-constant rainfall in December provided ideal conditions for spawning coho salmon. However, the survey conditions for our San Francisco Bay Area Network fisheries crew were less than ideal. High flows prevented us from performing regular weekly surveys. The water also remains quite murky, which makes it harder to spot fish and redds (fish nests). Despite the low visibility, our surveys and the salmon have carried on.
Large fish, greenish above and red below, swimming over a depression in a creek bed.
Challenging The Ranger Image
In spite of programs to encourage hiring of individuals with disabilities, it was often others’ misconceptions or discomfort that prevented women with disabilities from getting National Park Service (NPS) jobs. Those hired in the 1970s and early 1980s brought diverse skillsets and new perspectives to the workforce. Like the earliest women rangers in the 1910s and 1920s, they often only had short-term positions. They all challenged ideas of what it takes to be a park ranger.
Ranger Vicky White in a wheelchair with a visitor and man in military dress.
LaNada War Jack
LaNada War Jack is a member of the Shoshone Bannock Tribes and a central figure in the twentieth- and twenty-first century Native American activist movements. Between 1969 and 1971, she helped to organize a nineteen-month Native American occupation of Alcatraz Island.
Dr. Warjack standing next to a spray painted building with the words Red Power
Biologists Brave Cold Waters to Count Juvenile Salmon
With the coho spawner season over, our San Francisco Bay Area Network fisheries crew shifted focus to a different generation of salmonids in Redwood Creek. Deep pools and sheltered banks below the creek’s surface are home to juvenile coho salmon and steelhead trout. Crew members braved the cold and plunged into the 47°F water to conduct snorkel surveys and assess winter habitat use by these populations.
A snorkeler in shallow water illuminates the creek bed before him with a flashlight.
In Conservation Milestone, Staff Complete First Outplanting of Endangered Hickman's Potentilla in Golden Gate
Hickman’s potentilla is a federally endangered herb in the rose family that produces charming yellow flowers with heart-shaped petals. About 99% of all known individuals occur at Rancho Corral de Tierra in San Mateo County, CA. In early January, Golden Gate National Recreation Area staff took a new step in their quest to conserve Hickman's potentilla, outplanting it at Rancho for the first time.
Hand holding a small plant just above the ground.
Biologists Seek to Reintroduce More Genetically Robust Stickleback Population at Presidio’s Mountain Lake
Should a reintroduced wildlife population come from one source population, or from several? This question is actively debated among conservation biologists. Presidio Trust biologists tried the former approach in 2015 when they first reintroduced threespine stickleback into Mountain Lake from a population in nearby Lobos Creek. Now, after what may have been a disease-related die-off in 2020, they will draw on three local stickleback populations for a second reintroduction.
Small olive fish with spines on its back.
Women in Landscape-Scale Conservation: Alison Forrestel
As co-lead of the Golden Gate Biosphere Network, Alison Forrestel has helped create momentum for the biosphere network that is actively fundraising and assessing the network for climate change vulnerabilities.
closeup of woman in park ranger uniform.
In Bay Area National Park Creeks, Fish Must Race to Beat the Drought
This has been a highly productive spawner season for the salmon in the Olema and Redwood Creek watersheds. The San Francisco Bay Area Network coho and steelhead monitoring crew spotted over 140 Chinook, coho, and steelhead redds (nests) in these creeks since November. These encouraging numbers are largely due to the heavy rainfall the Bay Area received in late fall and early winter. However, two months without significant rain has sounded some alarms for our coastal streams.
Tiny fish with comparatively large eyes swimming in a crevice between two rocks.
Planting Native Species to Improve Salmon Habitat
Every year, Watershed Stewards Program (WSP) Corspmembers host a Watershed Awareness Volunteer Event during their term of service. These events bring the local community together to engage in various restoration activities and learn about watershed health. This year, WSP members Natale Urquhart and Tara Blake recruited volunteers from all over the Bay Area to pull invasive blackberry and plant native juncus grass, willow, maple, alder, and oak trees along Lagunitas Creek.
Group of people outside in a grassy landscape.
New Study Sheds Light on Seals as Magnets for Marine Algae
Researchers studying pinnipeds (seals and sea lions) have long noted marine algae sometimes growing on their fur. But few had studied the phenomenon. Dr. Floyd Hayes, struck by a few seals in Bodega Bay with large mats of algae on their backs, decided to investigate. He and researchers from the San Francisco Bay Area Network and Point Reyes National Seashore found that at least eight genera of photosynthetic algae attach to six different pinniped species.
Harbor seal swimming through the water with a thick mat of algae on its back.
Translocation Project Brings Mission Blue Butterflies Back to Sweeney Ridge
Sweeney Ridge was once one of the few remaining places to support endangered Mission blue butterflies on the San Francisco Peninsula. But the quarter-sized, iridescent insects disappeared from the site after a fungal outbreak decimated their host plants in the late 1980’s. Recently, a multi-agency collaborative formed to bring mission blues back to Sweeney Ridge. Thanks to its efforts, Mission blue butterflies are now flying there again for the first time in 35 years!
Two people crouching around a net on a grassy hillside beneath a clear blue sky.
“Why Black Abalone?”: The Duality of Black Abalone in California
Black abalone are endangered marine snails. When I told people that I was making a podcast about them, I was often met with the question, “Why black abalone?” If you are curious too, you’re in the right place. I hope to elucidate why black abalone represent an interesting case study in delicate balances: between marine and terrestrial, ancient and Anthropocene, and vulnerability and resiliency in the context of roles they play in their communities and in ours.
Two large, round black abalone side by side in a tidepool.
The Presidio Raptor Cam Returns: Nesting Red-tailed Hawks Hatch Two Chicks!
In 2018, the Presidio of San Francisco’s live “Hawk Cam” was established above a nest located 100 feet up in one of the blue gum eucalyptus trees near the Main Post. Over a few seasons, it’s given all of us an up-close and personal look at nesting raptors in the park – and it’s back. The same breeding resident pair of hawks have returned to their nest four years later – and two chicks hatched starting on Easter weekend!
Overhead view of red-tailed hawk parent with two fluffy white chicks half-under its breast.
San Mateo Fine Scale Vegetation Map Complete
Fine scale vegetation maps are precise snapshots of plant communities (and other land cover types) across a landscape at a given time. They're also invaluable tools for land stewards. A coalition of agencies and partners just completed such a map of San Mateo County, plus federal lands in San Francisco. It shows 106 land cover types with 97,582(!) polygons and depicts the landscape as it was in 2018, when the project team acquired the map's foundational aerial imagery.
Screenshot of a web map interface. The map is titled 'San Mateo Fine Scale Vegetation Web Map'.
Meet the Watershed Stewards Program
A partnership between the California Conservation Corps, AmeriCorps, and California Volunteers, the Watershed Stewards Program (WSP) is dedicated to improving watershed health. Since 1994, WSP has partnered Corpsmembers with placement sites at the local, state, and federal level throughout the state of California. And since 2012, the San Francisco Bay Area Network fisheries crew at Point Reyes National Seashore has been one of the sites hosting Corpsmembers.
Two young people standing in waders in the middle of a rushing creek beneath towering trees.
Native Conservation Corps
Learn about a program for Native American youth to engage in conservation work in national parks and extend their experiences into their communities. Native Conservation Corps members become dual ambassadors between the National Park Service and Native American tribes.
Staff Spotlight: Rebecca Au and Jackson Lam
Meet Rebecca Au and Jackson Lam!
Becca and Jackson at Muir Woods on Earth Day 2022
50th Anniversary Scavenger Hunt
Do you know your parks!? Celebrate 50 years with this fun activity including trivia from Glen Canyon, Gateway and Golden Gate National Recreation Areas.
The Men of Baker Street
In 1918, the United States Army learned that the Presidio of San Francisco was home to men who desired other men. The Men of Baker Street were incarcerated on Alcatraz Island for five months awaiting their courts-martial. These courts-martial found all six soldiers guilty and dishonorably discharged. They forfeited all pay, and five were sentenced to be “confined at hard labor” for sentences ranging from 2-10 years.
Pillow basalts are named for the rounded shapes that form when lava cools rapidly underwater.
photo of golden gate bridge
Protecting Western Monarchs
Iconic to North America, monarch butterflies are important pollinators. However, their numbers have been declining drastically over the past 20 years. See how the National Park Service along with partners and community scientists are helping protecting western monarchs and find out what you can do to help too!
monarch butterfly on pink flower
2022 Smolt Trap Recap
Each spring, young salmonids enter their smolt life stage and begin migrating downstream towards the ocean. The San Francisco Bay Area Network fisheries crew maintains downstream migrant traps, or smolt traps, on Olema and Redwood Creeks to study them. In the 12 weeks that our smolt traps were operating, our crew captured over 1,700 salmonid smolts. Coho salmon made up the majority of our smolt numbers, but Chinook and steelhead salmon were also found on both creeks.
Hand scooping a silvery fish with large eyes and dark fin tips out of a net.
Fisheries Crew Launches Pilot Study on Salmon Interactions in West Marin Creeks
In May, the San Francisco Bay Area Network fisheries crew launched a pilot study to look at the interactions between Chinook salmon, coho salmon, and steelhead trout in Olema and Redwood Creeks. With this data, they will seek to determine if juvenile Chinook, which have never been observed rearing in Olema and Redwood Creeks prior to this year, interact with coho and steelhead. If so, they'll aim to describe the interactions between the species.
Chinook salmon fry swimming in a pool. Its shadow can be seen on the creek bed beneath it.
Rehabilitation of historic Presidio building for NPS maintenance operations
A project funded by the Great American Outdoors Act will rehabilitate 20,000 square feet of historic Presidio Building PE-643, a contributing structure to the Presidio of the San Francisco National Historic Landmark District, for permanent occupation as a code-compliant, accessible, efficient maintenance facility for Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
Historic airplane hangar undergoing rehabilitation project.
Botany News – Spring 2022
Beyond the breath-taking views that give Bay Area national parks their claim to fame lie incredibly diverse plant communities. Since 2013, National Park Service botanists, seasonal technicians, interns, and volunteers have established and revisited over 150 permanent plots, building a baseline for long-term data collection. This summer's botany team has hit the ground running, enjoying snacks on the hillsides of Tennessee Valley and sleeping beneath the stars in Pinnacles.
Two women on a rocky outcrop looking out over a hilly landscape.
With Ocean Foraging Conditions All Over the Map, Alcatraz Offers Breeding Seabirds an Alternative
Ocean conditions are becoming more unstable (remember The Blob?) with more frequent impacts to seabird prey, and ultimately, offshore seabird breeding success. Meanwhile, estuaries like San Francisco Bay, home to Alcatraz Island’s seabird colony, may offer more stability. A new study of pigeon guillemots on Alcatraz and Southeast Farallon Island, led by National Park Service Natural Resource Specialist Victoria (Tori) Seher, lends further support to that idea.
Black bird on a building ledge, carrying a fish in it's bill.
Marin County Northern Spotted Owl Population Remains Stable in 2022
Each spring, National Park Service staff monitor northern spotted owl breeding activity in national and state parks in Marin County. With the 2022 breeding season now almost over, we’ve found that the local population appears stable. Marin remains the only part of the owl's historic range, which stretches north to Canada, where the population is not in severe decline.
Fluffy white spotted owl fledgling being observed by an out-of-focus biologist in the foreground.
Spring 2022 Botany Newsletter Now Available
After a multi-year hiatus, the San Francisco Bay Area Network’s Early Detection News is back, and it’s grown! Now called Botany News, it’ll be sharing the achievements of the Plant Community Monitoring (PCM) crew as well as the Invasive Species Early Detection (ISED) crew. Both work to better understand trends in plant communities within the San Francisco Bay Area national parks.
Two women looking at a tablet on a trail lined with tall grasses.
A Zone of Its Own - Adventures in Rocky Intertidal Monitoring
Standing on what would soon be the ocean floor again, it felt like I’d stumbled upon a secret no one had ever told me. Across rocky intertidal sites at Golden Gate and Point Reyes National Seashore, I saw colorful claws from a few crabs, who seemed to be happy to be getting some sun. I knew the intertidal stole my heart when I saw a baby ochre star nestled beside a much larger purple ochre star. There were also anemones smaller than quarters, and some larger than my hand!
Giant green anemone, its hundreds of tentacles exploring the water, alongside a smaller anemone.
Jane P. Marshall
Jane P. Marshall began working for the National Park Service (NPS) as a "kiosk kutie" on the National Mall in the late 1960s. At the persistent urging of a couple of patrolmen, she joined the US Park Police (USPP) in 1973. Two years later she became the first USPP policewoman to be shot in the line of duty. Although her recovery was long and she suffered permanent injuries, she returned to work. She enjoyed a long career, becoming the second woman lieutenant in USPP history.
Jane P. Marshall wearing her US Park Police uniform.
Muir Woods Proclamation
To protect the area from logging and development, William and Elizabeth Kent purchased Redwood Canyon in 1903. It was a financial risk for them at the time. Learn the story of how that land became the Muir Woods we know today. Read President Theodore Roosevelt words proclaiming the famous forest by the Bay a National Park.
William Kent and Gilford Pinchot pose in front of redwoods trees, and large stone.
Tipping the Scales
The 1970s saw the expansion of US Park Police (USPP) units, responsibilities, and force size. Equal employment opportunities resulted in more women and minority officers joining the rapidly evolving organization. Although policewomen were still a small percentage of the force, their numbers began to increase in the mid-1970s. They weren’t always accepted by their fellow officers, however, and many faced discrimination and hostile work environments.
US Park Police officers, including seven women, pose in their uniforms for their class photo.
Botany News – July 2022
This July, the Invasive Species Early Detection team mapped invasive plants at John Muir National Historic Site and at Rancho Corral de Tierra and the Presidio of San Francisco in Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Yellow star thistle, Algerian sea lavendar, and Oppositeleaf Russian thistle emerged as noteworthy early detections. Meanwhile, the Plant Community Monitoring team surveyed freshwater marsh plots and shine a spotlight on the ecological benefits of poison oak.
Two people look down through dense bunches of tall sedges. One holds a tall yellow device.
2022 Harbor Seal Monitoring Updates
Harbor seals live a dual life, spending half their time on land and the other half in the ocean. This duality means they have to avoid both terrestrial and oceanic predators. In recent years, the harbor seals in Marin County have been dealing with more interactions from coyotes. Biologists monitoring the seals in 2022 continued to see this issue.
Coyote on a mudflat beside a group of harbor seals. Some seals are retreating into the water.
July 2022 Botany Newsletter Now Available
Botany News is back with it's second issue of the season! One top takeaway is that the Invasive Species Early Detection (ISED) team is seeking volunteers for year-round invasive species surveys. Field days involve up to five miles of walking on easy to moderate trails, oftentime less. At least a general knowledge of invasive species of the Bay Area is preferred, and data collection training will be provided.
Person in hiking gear on a trail, leaning down to take a photo with a cell phone camera.
Four Birds from Golden Gate and Yosemite Star in New Study of Migratory Species’ Responses to Climate Change
Scientists have abundant data on bird population trends and on climate change impacts to habitats around the world. For birds that stay in one place year round, linking the two to study bird population responses to climate change is relatively straightforward. But migratory birds spend time in different places at different times. As a result, all of that existing data isn’t enough to tease apart how climate impacts birds at different stages of their annual journeys.
Bird with black head, deep orange breast, black-and-white wings, and a wide gray beak.
Botany News – August 2022
Internship projects, invasive species early detection surveys across Golden Gate, and plant community surveys in squishy salt marshes and dense Douglas-fir forests are among the features in this August issue of Botany News. You'll also find info on two high priority invasive plants to look out for, parrot's feather and old man's beard, and a native species spotlight on the beautiful, sturdy, and ecologically and ethnobotanically significant blueblossum ceanothus.
Cluster of small light bluish-purple flowers at the tip of a branch covered in glossy green leaves.
50 Years of Recreation
50 Years of Recreation Scavenger Hunt Competed!!
Botany News – September 2022
You'll find coastal wetland wonders, Point Reyes post-fire monitoring, September invasive species surveys in the Presidio, and salt marsh plant community surveys featured in this issue. Noteworthy invasive species profiles include false ice plant and oxeye daisy, and don't miss a native species spotlight on the sticky, strangely shaped Point Reyes bird’s-beak, a threatened species in California!
Two people collecting and recording data by a road, with a view of the San Francisco Bay beyond.
Meet the 2022-2023 Watershed Stewards & Summer Basinwide Surveys Conclude
The San Francisco Bay Area Network coho and steelhead monitoring crew is excited to welcome the 2022-2023 Watershed Stewards Program Corpsmembers! Elizabeth Bear and Catherine Masatani will work at Point Reyes and Golden Gate until August 2023, aiding in salmon population recovery on Olema, Redwood, and Pine Gulch creeks. The first task as incoming Corpsmembers is reviewing summer basinwide habitat typing data and making sure everything lines up.
Underwater view of a large creek pool filled with hundreds of small fish.
Marin Bat Monitoring Team Starts Using Motus Tracking System to Study Migratory Species
Through acoustic monitoring, winter mist netting, and summer radio telemetry, researchers have started to describe Bay Area bats’ habitat preferences, roosting sites, and more. But there’s a whole other black hole of bat knowledge that they’re just now beginning to peer into: bat migrations. This fall, the team started leveraging an automated wildlife tracking system for the first time to better understand bats’ journeys as they migrate through—and beyond—local parks.
Cute bat with silver-tipped fur and its tongue sticking out, held in a scientist’s gloved hands.
Tales from a Summer Night of Bat Research by Redwood Creek
On one memorable nighttime visit to Redwood Creek in Muir Woods, I met with several National Park Service and US Geological Survey biologists to learn about and photograph their bat research. Turns out it’s a good place to catch bats that like to hunt along the creek for mosquitos, flies, and beetles. In the last few moments of sunlight, we set up four mist nets (loose, nearly invisible mesh nets) over different parts of the creek and crossed our fingers.
Tiny bat, gently held between a biologist's thumb and fingers as the they collect a swab sample.
Health Checks Show Growth of Reintroduced Western Pond Turtles as Tracking Project Ends
As part of a collaborative western pond turtle reintroduction project, Golden Gate biologists have been using radio telemetry to track the movements of released turtles. We also conduct annual health checks of the turtles at the end of each summer through trapping. Trapping for the 2022 season occurred in late-August through early-September. Unlike previous years, this year's health check marks the official end of the radio telemetry monitoring program.
Hand holding a medium-sized turtle with marbled orange and black markings on its head.
Taking the Pulse of U.S. National Parks
How do we know if parks are healthy? We measure their vital signs, of course! Across the country, there are 32 inventory and monitoring networks that measure the status and trends of all kinds of park resources. We're learning a lot after years of collecting data. Check out these articles written for kids and reviewed by kids in partnership with the international online journal Frontiers for Young Minds.
A cartoon of a ranger taking the pulse of the Earth.
Series: Climate Change at Muir Woods
What does a changing climate mean for Muir Woods? How will redwoods adapt and become climate resilient? A new report found that climate change may threaten the redwood trees of Muir Woods. Find out how climate change is impacting Muir Woods and learn ways you can become a part of the solution.
A dry Redwood Creek next to the Main Trail at Muir Woods National Monument.
Series: Women's History in the Pacific West - California-Great Basin Collection
Biographies from Northern California, Central Valley, Sierra Nevada Mountains and Nevada
Map of northern California, Central Valley, Sierra Nevada Mountains and Nevada
Coastal Geohazards—Storm Surges
Storm surge may severely impact coastal geomorphology and inundate park resources. Brought by coastal storms, storm surge can be dangerous and have lasting effects. Coastal areas that remain at low elevation are prone to the effects of storm surge. The magnitude of a storm surge is increased when coupled with sea level rise.
damaged road with sand overwash
50 Nifty Finds #4: Getting In the Zone
For more than a century the National Park Service (NPS) has won awards and honors for its work preserving cultural and natural resources and sharing the diverse stories of American history. One of its earliest honors came from the Panama-Pacific International Exposition held in San Francisco, California, in 1915. But wait…The NPS was created in 1916, right? How could it win an award before it existed?
Round bronze medal featuring nude man and woman
Runs and Rainfall: When Will the 2022-2023 Spawner Season Begin?
With winter fast approaching, the rain that marks the beginning of spawning season has just arrived. Without rainfall, the adult coho salmon native to Olema and Redwood Creeks wouldn’t be able to migrate upstream to their spawning grounds. It is truly a special time, as coho salmon are completing their three-year life cycle while attempting to produce the next generation of fish.
At least three large fish with red sides swimming against the current of a briskly flowing creek.
Series: Coastal Geohazards
Natural processes such as tsunamis, coastal landslides, and storms are driving forces of change along the coast. These processes and other coastal hazards can threaten parks’ cultural and natural resources, infrastructure, and public recreational opportunities.
storm surge waves breaking over pathway
A Window into What a Bird in the Hand Can Teach Us
"Coming to California exposed me to a variety of birds that I was not familiar with. That’s why I was really looking forward to joining Point Blue Conservation Science for two days to observe their mist netting, which would allow me to see the birds up close for the first time. Point Blue’s work in stream-side areas of Golden Gate and Point Reyes in partnership with the National Park Service forms the core of the San Francisco Bay Area Network’s Landbird Monitoring Program."
Yellow bird with a small patch of black feathers on its head, suspended in a nearly invisible net.
Request for Proposals (RFP) - Golden Gate National Recreation Area Residential Master Lease
Golden Gate National Recreation Area Residential Master Lease - The National Park Service (NPS) has issued a request for proposals (RFP) for a lease of 39 residential units within Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The 10-year lease is expected to begin in March 2024.
Aerial view of Fort Mason and San Francisco Bay.
Historic Rainfall Surges Bay Area Creeks, but Where are the Salmon?
‘Atmospheric rivers’ and ‘bomb cyclones’ have occupied headlines these past few weeks as significant storms have battered the area, bringing historic rainfall amounts and causing our local creeks to surge. But what exactly do these meteorological terms mean? And what do surging creeks mean for the Coho & Steelhead Monitoring Team and the spawning coho salmon we are trying to monitor?
Hand holding a partial coho salmon carcass--a piece of a head--over a flowing creek.
Sharing the Shore with Western Snowy Plovers at Ocean Beach
Ocean Beach is exactly what I thought an urban California beach in the summer would look like. There were lots of surfers and families and dogs just hanging out enjoying the weather. I was there with Wildlife Biologist Rachel Townsend and Wildlife Intern Ana Arce to look for a small bird, the western snowy plover.
Person looking through binoculars on the beach as another writes on a clipboard.
Travels of the Marin Headlands
Learn how scientists have "read" the rocks of the Marin Headlands to decipher a 200-million-year history of the Northeast Pacific basin and the tectonically active margin of North America. This story includes ancient mid-ocean mountain ridges and plateaus, volcanic hotspots, seamounts, and ocean floor that was thrust under and onto the North American continent and then transported northward 100s of kilometers to where we find them today.
Reddish, layered rock exposure rising above a beach, with the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance.
Coho Salmon's Upstream Battle Against Climate Change
A coho salmon valiantly pushes against the current of Olema Creek as winter settles in West Marin. She is lucky. At every stage in a salmon’s life cycle, they face perilous challenges and high mortality rates. This has always been true – predators have been around as long as the salmon have, after all – but conditions are growing increasingly challenging because of human disturbances, including manipulation of the environment and anthropogenic climate change.
Large, olive-colored fish with small black spots, swimming over a rocky creek bed.
Series: Using Science to Preserve the Past
Conserving our nation’s rich cultural heritage – the stories, places, traditions, and artifacts that make up the fabric of our shared history – is an important part of the NPS mission. Throughout the Pacific West Region, park archeologists and paleontologists, museum curators, historic preservationists, and more are using scientific practices to better steward the cultural resources they protect. Explore these articles to learn more about their work.
Museum object of cat-like nimravid skull with large incisors
Understanding the Space Between Land and Sea Through the Eyes of Snowy Plovers
Limantour Beach is wide. Bookended by ocean on one side and grassy dunes on the other, its sandy expanse provides a habitat for many organisms that rely on the rich ecosystem between land and sea. The western snowy plover, a small brown and white shorebird, is one species that finds refuge in the sand. Over time, human activity and development have degraded many beaches like Limantour, and biologists have seen those impacts through the eyes of the snowy plovers.
Small shorebird stands on a sandy beach. Out of focus behind it are turquoise ocean swells.
Spotted: Chinook Spawning in Redwood Creek Once Again
During last year’s spawning season, 2021-2022, the San Francisco Bay Area Network fisheries crew observed an unusual event: Chinook—or king—salmon migrating into Redwood Creek to complete their life cycle and spawn. Now, for the second year in a row, we observed a female Chinook on her redd, or nest, in Redwood Creek.
Large fish swimming against the current of a clear, shallow, gravelly creek.
One Tam Weed Program Spreads Across California
Perhaps the last thing a weed cares about is where one property ends and another begins. As part of their efforts to collaboratively care for Mt. Tamalpais in Marin County, the five One Tam partners—National Park Service, California State Parks, Marin Water, Marin County Parks, and Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy—teamed up to create an Early Detection Rapid Response program to manage weeds across boundaries. Now, the successful program is spreading across California.
Person talking and gesturing across a hilly, sunny landscape as others look on.
Botany News – Winter 2022-2023
Meet GIS Intern Shea Nolan, get a peek at post-field season indoor botany, and test your invasive species ID skills in this fall-winter issue. Also catch invasive species profiles of two grassland troublemakers, <em>Bromus tectorum</em> and <em>Rytidosperma penicillatum</em>, and a native species profile on the charming redwood forest floor groundcover <em>Oxalis oregana</em>.
Microscope view of yellowed grass spikelets with long, needle-like awns.
Almost a Wrap: Observations from the 2022-2023 Coho & Steelhead Spawner Seasons
As winter transitions into spring, the 2022-2023 coho spawning season is coming to an end. Steelhead are still moving into our coastal Marin streams, but the San Francisco Bay Area Network coho and steelhead monitoring crew have not seen signs of coho since January. It’s been a season of minimal coho salmon observations: no live fish seen, only a few carcass parts collected, and a couple redds counted.
Two people walk along a stream bank beneath towering redwoods.
Extreme Home Makeover: Salmon Habitat Project Yielding Impressive Results
Three years after implementing Phase 1 of Muir Woods’ salmon habitat enhancement project upstream of Bridge 3, Redwood Creek’s ability to support coho juveniles has vastly improved. Water Year (WY; from October to September) 2021-2022’s annual monitoring report showed increased winter habitat density, more natural sediment deposition, and changes in woody debris placements that led to habitat improvements.
Person in a wetsuit snorkeling along the bank of a creek near a large buildup of woody debris.
Scientist Profile: Rachel Townsend, Wildlife Biologist
“I'm originally from Iowa, born and raised. I guess I’ve been out in nature since I was a little kid. My dad was a hunter and fisherman. In the winter times he would take me out along the Mississippi River, and we'd be eagle watching—watching them catch fish in the ice. And [we’d go] canoeing and were always going to science museums. I was a pretty high energy kid and so I think part of it was probably trying to get me outdoors, going crazy with me inside."
Rachel gently stretching a nearly-invisible black net across a creek bed.