By Habitats Seasonal Ecologist Eric Lynch
helped me grasp the sheer vastness of the Bay. While the sounds and sights of human civilization were always present, they were muted and quickly forgotten. There was a profusion of wildlife you won’t see in some of the richest and most remote ecosystems in the world. It was not uncommon to see a gray fox roaming our plant nursery or a Bald Eagle soaring high above former salt ponds.
Just as impressive was the amount of research and thought our team put into our restoration sites. There are no longer any pristine marsh transition sites remaining between the wetlands of the San Francisco Bay and its well-preserved hills. Steady development has left much of the Bay surrounded by concrete or filled in to create more human real estate. In addition, the creeks and rivers that would have formed vast floodplains around the edge of the Bay had been dammed and set into levee-bound channels, drastically changing the ecology of the bay. As a result, when SFBBO began our habitats work in 2011 our team had no living example of what these restoration areas should look like.
So the team decided what plants to use in our restoration projects partly by examining historical accounts and museum collections. They did careful surveys of restoration sites to verify whether these plants can survive in a vastly different landscape. My favorite part of our program’s research was searching areas around the Bay for remaining populations of plants we needed, and I learned that a lot of little jewels still remained.
We found inconspicuous bayside areas in Fremont and Alviso that were painted purple and yellow with carpets of flowers in wet years. Some Bay levees near Hayward were taken over by beautiful orange fiddlenecks in early spring. Every empty field or levee became a potential treasure trove of plant genetics that could have been lost if not for our persistent curiosity.
After three years of delightful part-time employment with the Habitats Program, I am moving on to pursue a master’s degree . I’ll miss working with the Habitats team dearly, but my perspective on the place I love has been forever changed for the better. I am grateful for the diligent work the program does to help improve our incredible San Francisco Bay ecosystem and for all it taught me.
To find out how to get involved with our work to create and restore tidal marsh habitat at the Bay's margins, please visit our website or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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