One-of-a-Kind Stories

One-of-a-Kind Stories

American Avocet on managed, former salt ponds in the South Bay. Photo: Roopak Bhatt, USGS

Our magazine’s media motto for many years has been “Where there’s an estuary, there’s a crowd.” The SF Estuary is a place where people, wildlife, and commerce congregate, and where watersheds, rivers and the ocean meet and mix, creating a place of unusual diversity. In choosing to tell the Story of the Estuary in just nine major topics and a few browsing categories, so many unique stories from our archives have been missed. Like tales about the region’s various research vessels that collect data on conditions in the water or trawl for fish of management concern. Or the stories bringing to life the experiences of people swimming or fishing or boating on the water, or walking the trails and watching the birds on our shores. Central to so many of our stories are also the people working on the frontiers of estuary management, and our archives also include profiles, memorials, Q & As and podcasts like this one about efforts to embrace equity in resource management. And then there are just the fascinating specifics about a particular place (a quarry, a dam, a levee, a floodplain), a particular group or agency or a time when something really important happened like Measure AA. More treasures can be found by scrolling down to Reporters Look Back on our archive home page (each of our legacy reporters chose their stand out stories). If you dig deep into our older archives, you’ll also unearth some tales of times past, all of which add up to the unique place and history that is the SF Estuary. Photo: USGS

Editor’s Picks

  • The Grande Dames of the Delta
    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…

  • Tallying Bird Populations Then and Now
    Tallying Bird Populations Then and Now

    How many ducks and geese used the Estuary before the Gold Rush? The numbers are beyond conjecture, but they must have been mind-boggling. Observers writing about a hundred years ago noted major decreases during the era of market hunting, when waterfowl were shot to supply the restaurants and stores of California’s emerging cities, but offered […]

  • Science-in-Short ~ Sea Level Rise Podcast
    Science-in-Short ~ Sea Level Rise Podcast

    In this podcast, Julie Beagle, a former lead scientist at the SF Estuary Institute now the Army Corps, tells what she calls “wicked scary” sea level rise stories. Beagle also describes several kinds of “nature-based” treatments that can delay and soften the onslaught and also addresses the problem of scale.

  • Equity with Intention ~ Podcast
    Equity with Intention ~ Podcast

    It might be a stretch for many of us to see the relationship between keeping the Estuary healthy and racism in our communities. But leaders and staffers in organizations and agencies across the San Francisco Bay Area have been steadily working to make this connection, and recent events – with the death of George Floyd […]

  • A Fragile Fleet
    A Fragile Fleet

    Watching Bay-Delta science unfold, we take for granted the little armada that keeps it all going. Nobody has a firm count, but it appears there are about 100 vessels supporting research in the Estuary. They range from a few large craft that can work outside the Golden Gate to little “trailerable” skiffs and Adirondack rowboats that ply Delta shallows. Like many of the systems that quietly sustain our society, this one is showing signs of strain.

  • True to the Trail
    True to the Trail

    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 two years, they have covered more than half the trail, both the finished, and as best they can, the unfinished portions.

  • New Video: USGS Investigates 50-Year Mystery of San Francisco Bay
    New Video: USGS Investigates 50-Year Mystery of San Francisco Bay

    Between April 1969 and March 2019, USGS conducted 1,167 boat-based sampling cruises to better understand changing conditions in San Francisco Bay — producing data used by scientists around the world. Meet four scientists and the captain of the March 14, 2019 cruise, and watch them plumb the Bay depths, drag nets, filter samples, and explain their work.

  • Feds Coastal Research Crew Bucks Headwinds
    Feds Coastal Research Crew Bucks Headwinds

    Jim Cloern looked out of an airplane window one day and saw red streaks in the water; crimson patches darkening the grey-green shallows that are San Francisco’s South Bay. A superscientist with the US Geological Survey, he knew something big was happening. As soon as the plane landed he called his crew. “You will not […]

  • Photo Essay:  Sailing, A Dying Sport or Character Builder?
    Photo Essay: Sailing, A Dying Sport or Character Builder?

    Around the Bay, people who love to sail are sharing the sport with young people. Tucked into marinas and coves, and working out of portable classrooms and small offices, yacht club volunteers and nonprofit staff are working hard to get youth out on the bay in sailboats. They don’t expect to make sailors out of […]

  • Going Local Buys Future for Bayshore
    Going Local Buys Future for Bayshore

    When Bay Area voters approved Measure AA in June 2016 they not only created a significant new source of environmental funding, they also made California history, levying a parcel tax across the entire region for the first time. The measure, which resulted in creation of the SF Bay Restoration Authority, may be a catalyst for a regional approach to wetland restoration, rising sea levels and other challenges.

  • Bay Belle Retires; Catamaran Carries On
    Bay Belle Retires; Catamaran Carries On

    Side by side at a Redwood City marina, two vessels await their very different destinies. The Research Vessel Polaris, a classy 96-foot yacht, spent decades as the workhorse of the US Geological Survey’s San Francisco Bay science program. Her successor floats next to her in the Redwood City marina, a 67-foot aluminum catamaran named RV David H Peterson for the late oceanographer.

  • Mainstreaming Resilience
    Mainstreaming Resilience

    Whatever the “perturbation” coming our way – a flood, a drought, a weed or Donald Trump – our recovery, in the aftermath, depends on something ecologists call resilience. It’s a term everyone is pasting onto their management initiatives these days. But what exactly does it mean?

  • The Most Under-Regulated Facility
    The Most Under-Regulated Facility

    The Kaiser Permanente Cement Plant (named after nearby Permanente Creek) produced six million barrels of cement to build Shasta Dam, and countless roads, buildings, and bridges. Now known as Lehigh Southwest Cement Company, the quarry and plant still supplies 50% of the Bay Area’s Portland cement, and recently earned some intense scrutiny from local regulators.

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