Aleta George
About the author

Author and journalist Aleta George writes about the history, culture, and nature of California.

Articles by Aleta George

Top Photo: Sailboats crossing under Delta drawbridge. Photo: Caltrans

The Grande Dames of the Delta

The moveable bridges that cross the rivers and sloughs in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta were built in the first half of the 20th century, and most are operated by control panels as old as the bridges themselves. A day spent touring these strong-boned grande dames on backwater levee roads or zigzagging across the Sacramento River on scenic State Route 160 is time well spent. But that’s leisure time, and for the tens of thousands of commuters who use the heavily...
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Sturdy Sturgeon

A 90-year-old Australian lungfish at San Francisco’s Academy of Sciences has received a lot of press lately, but there is a wild fish species living in the San Francisco Bay that has the potential to live that long or longer — or so we think. While one white sturgeon caught in the Columbia River Basin was estimated to be 104 years old, the life expectancy of white sturgeon, Acipenser transmontanus, which includes the Central Valley population endemic to the San...
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DFW 150 Years on Patrol, and Work Still Dangerous

Lieutenant James Ober worked as a fish biologist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife for a year before joining its Law Enforcement Division in 2009. “I enjoy interacting with hunters and fishers. Most of them have a great appreciation for the resources and want to protect them,” says Ober about being on patrol. Ober belongs to the tradition of wildlife officers, both personally and professionally. His fifth great grandfather, Edwin H. Ober, was an officer and biologist during...
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Nourishing Encinal Beach

Before the East Bay Regional Park District completed the Encinal Dune Restoration and Shoreline Stabilization Project in December 2020, this tucked-away beach frequented by locals and harbor seal enthusiasts needed some love. The ice plant that dominated the low-flung dune offered little sustenance to fauna; the beach required more sand; the washed-up creosote-treated timber was strewn about like a giant game of pick-up sticks; and the large, rusty barge that buttressed a short section of the San Francisco Bay Trail...
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Londons Roam and Feast on the Bay circa 1910

Jack London usually sailed west whenever he left the Oakland Municipal Wharf, but on December 18, 1913, he headed east — because he could. Although the canal connecting the Oakland Estuary to San Leandro Bay had been completed in 1902, it wasn’t until the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers widened and deepened the canal in 1913 that it became navigable. Aboard the Roamer, a 30-foot yawl London bought used in 1910, Jack and his wife, Charmian, approached the Park Street...
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Carbon Goes Deep

By Aleta George Many Yolo County farmers and ranchers are keenly aware of climate shifts and actively involved in GHG reduction strategies. Scott and Karen Stone run Yolo Land & Cattle, a 7,500-acre ranch that lies partly in the Blue Ridge Berryessa Natural Area. The Stones have planted riparian areas and hedgerows for carbon sequestration, use solar water pumps to reduce GHGs, and manage a 400-acre conservation easement for Swainson’s hawk on their irrigated pastureland. In the Capay Valley, Fully...
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Time Travel on the Bay

By Aleta George “In day-to-day life we look at the world in a three-dimensional view,” Liam O’Donoghue, host and producer of the award-winning podcast East Bay Yesterday, says, “but when you know history, you can look at it through four dimensions because you can see into the past using your imagination.” On a recent boat tour of the East Bay shoreline led by O’Donoghue, Captain Andy threaded his vessel Pacific Pearl through the Berkeley pier as if it were a...
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True to the Trail

On a clear San Francisco morning, I met Barb Christianson and Sally Jo Dinwoodie, both 64, at a Hunter’s Point neighborhood with new, multi-storied townhouses that can go for a million dollars. Seven of us headed down the hill towards the Bay with the San Francisco skyline and Bay Bridge sparkling. Christianson, Dinwoodie, and a small group of friends are walking the entire San Francisco Bay Trail by tackling one segment at a time, in order, once a month. After...
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Saltwater Revival

“Swimming sustains me,” says Fran Hegeler of the South End Rowing Club. That’s the kind of enthusiastic language some Bay swimmers express, but sharing the water means sharing it in sickness and in health. Right now, Sausalito’s Marine Mammal Center is dealing with a large outbreak of leptospirosis, a bacterial infection that can cause fatal kidney damage in California sea lions. But it isn’t likely to affect swimmers, as the bacteria is not known to survive long in saltwater.
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Glimmers of Baywide Intent

“Bay Restoration is a race against time,” says San Francisco Restoration Authority Chair Dave Pine. “That’s why it’s so important to bring the regulatory agencies together to fast-track the permitting process.” The Restoration Authority, overseeing projects funded by Measure AA, took a step forward this June by approving funding for a Regulatory Integration Team. BCDC and six other organizations, including the US Army Corps of Engineer, the US EPA, federal and state wildlife agencies, and the state Water Board, joined...
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Caspian Push and Pull

The origin story of a project to lure Caspian terns to several barren islands in the South Bay Salt Pond Habitat Restoration Project stretches all the way to the mouth of the Columbia River in Washington. This bird story that turns out to be a fish tale shows what can happen when multiple agencies and states work together to protect the numbers of an endangered species by changing the patterns of another species. In this case, the robust population of...
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