Habitat Potential

Pub date July 25, 2006
SectionSF Blog

The biggest deterrent for the east-west migratory subset of species homo sapiens is a lack of niche habitat in San Francisco. While a unique western habitat like San Francisco offers much “to do” for the migrating easterner, the difficulty has been ingratiation with local population. Repeatedly, the search is for “common ground.”

On a steamy Sunday afternoon bird walk along Land’s End, this is how the ecologists were rapping — about pigeon guillemots and oystercatchers, and not bereft New Englanders. But during the three hour tour from Suttro Baths along the cliffs toward China Beach, the crowd of twenty or so had a chance to get pretty chummy. My own recent migration from east to west has left me looking for a niche, and I felt a bit at home with this pack of ornithologists. I am not a bird nerd, but in my past life I spent some serious QT with researchers on an offshore island so I can at least feign binocular interest. Mostly I was there to hear what the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy has planned for the area. Within the 49 square miles of San Francisco, there are 41 natural areas, some as well-known and loved as the Presidio, and others as small and locally cherished as Kite Hill. They are all considered potential habitats where a coyote, a California Quail, or a native live oak could find a home, and a human could find a place to connect with the wilder aspects of the city. Much of that area has been invaded by non-native species like eucalyptus, nasturtium, feral cats, and pet dogs, and on Wednesday, July 26, the Recreation and Parks Department will be holding a special meeting to decide how to proceed with protecting these areas. There’s been a lot of controversy between dog owners and native species advocates, and this is something of a final showdown between the two factions, so it should be interesting to see how the commission decides.

-Amanda Witherell