Plant Trees SF Events 2011 Archive: 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022 2023 2024


1.   Coastal Cleanup Days September 17 - many
2.   Sea Turtle Restoration Project's Leatherback and Whale Watching Tour 9/25 and 10/23
3.   Field trip to see spiders in Glen Canyon Sept 17
4.   Sierra Point, Brisbane tour Thurs Sept 15, 5.30 pm
5.   Introduce yourself to the City College SF native garden Sept 29
6.   Shop Whole Foods Wednesday the 14th and help
7.   Sounds like a good book:  Gibson's The Bedside Book of Beasts
8.   God gives advice to Rick Perry
9.   The kingfisher, by Mary Oliver
10. Planning & Conservation League report on final Legislature action
11.  24 Hours of Reality - September 14 at 7 pm
12.  Feedback
13.  Feedback Special:  Cats
14.  Spectacular astronomy photographs
15.  World's shortest poem?


Literacy for Environmental Justice (LEJ)
Here we are again! California Coastal Cleanup Day is back and LEJ is leading the efforts with an impressive list of community organizations and businesses helping us out. We’d love to see you, as a community member, as a volunteer, contribute to this special day where we gather to steward our shared shoreline. The event is just a few days away on Saturday, September 17th from 9am-noon.

Since 2006 LEJ has participated in Coastal Cleanup Day which focused on the western shoreline of San Francisco. Then in 2008 LEJ began the efforts to clean up the east side sites from AT&T Park down to Candlestick Point Recreation Area. This year we're working alongside local businesses and organizations to bring the same clean up efforts as previous years. Please join us during this state-wide event to clean up our shorelines. 

And remember roughly 70% of the volunteers that sign up for this event sign up for the WEST side sites, such as Ocean Beach, but ~80% of the trash and debris end up on the EAST! So sign up where the need is greatest.

Also, we strongly recommend that everyone BYO (Bring Your Own _______ ) reuseable bags, buckets, gloves, and refillable water containers. Let’s make this a Zero Waste event! *There will be limited clean up supplies for those who do not bring their own materials. Remind everyone to wear layers, a hat, closed toe shoes, and sunscreen.

So, what are the details and how can you get involved? Register yourself or a group of volunteers by simply...

1. Going to
2. Type “San Francisco” in the Enter Location field.
3. A map should show the various locations where cleanups are happening.
4. Click on the site that you would like to clean up and click “Please Register for Availability”
5. Complete the required fields for registration.
*6. Recommended; Download and fill out your Waiver Form for the event by going to the California Coastal Commission website or download the form atBlue Greenway Coastal Cleanup Up Day.


GreenTrustSF hosts Coastal Cleanup Day at Warm Water Cove
Sat. Sept.17, 9:30-noon.
24th Street at the Bay (2 blocks east of Third St.)
Use T-Line 23rd St. Station and free parking available at site.

Join your neighbors, and bring a friend to help keep trash out of the Bay and the park. Approximately 80% of San Francisco's debris ends up in the eastern shoreline. For a low environmental impact— bring your own water in re-usable container, gloves and large bag or bucket to collect trash. We will have some for those who do not have!

Also watering of the flower beds to perk them up from the rainless summer. We should see some water birds and/or a harbor seal, hummingbirds, butterflies, dragon flies, late summer flowers,earth art and great views of the Bay. 
Snacks and a few "door prizes" provided by local businesses!

See more and register here:
Fill in "Warm Water Cove, San Francisco" for site. We would like you to register but can also just sign in on day.

This coming Saturday, SEPTEMBER 17, is the annual Coastal Cleanup Day. Sequoia Audubon is co-sponsoring a coastal cleanup at Mussel Rock Park, on the Pacifica/Daly City boundary. This park hosts some of the best winter sea duck populations in our county, as well as providing nesting sites for Pigeon Guillemots, Black Oystercatchers, and cormorants. Come help us there from 9 am to noon. If possible, bring heavy work gloves and buckets. Mussel Rock's parking lot is located at the end of Westline Drive. For a map and more precise driving directions, check out the Mussel Rock entry on the San Mateo County Birding Guide:

Since garbage on beaches often ends up in the stomachs of our avian friends, coastal cleanup events like this can help the birds we love. Thanks for helping out. Good birding!


2.  Sea Turtle Restoration Project’s Leatherback and Whale Watching Tour

The Farallon Islands off the coast of San Francisco lie within the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, a rich marine ecosystem that attracts leatherback sea turtles, whales, dolphins, seals and seabirds throughout the year.  Sea Turtle Restoration Project (STRP) has partnered with Oceanic Society ( for two leatherback and whale watching trips to the Farallon Islands in September and October.  STRP’s Dr. Chris Pincetich will be on board each of these special expeditions to talk about the critically endangered leatherback sea turtles.

Pacific leatherbacks are among the most imperiled of any sea turtle population in any ocean basin on Earth, and are offshore of California right now!  These sea turtle and whale-watching expeditions will be a fundraiser for STRP’s Leatherback Watch Program, which monitors sightings of Pacific leatherbacks for education and conservation purposes.

WHEN: Sunday, September 25 OR Sunday, October 23, all day, leaving from the San Francisco Bay.

WHO: Age minimum 10; an adult must accompany all youths under the age of 15.  The special STRP discounted tickets are priced at $110.00 per person.

DURATION: Approximately 8 hours.  In order to visit the whale “hot spots,” including the Continental, and have enough time to observe the wildlife at the islands, an 8 hour trip is required.

To reserve a spot, please email or call (415) 474-3386 and be sure to mention Sea Turtle Restoration Project to the staff at Oceanic Society.  You will receive a discounted price and we receive part of the proceeds!

For more information please email or visit

California Native Plant Society field trip - free and open to the public
Glen Canyon Spiders
Leader:  Darrell Ubick
Saturday 17 September, 10 am to noon

Fall is a good time for spidering because we are almost sure to see large, beautifully marked, often colorful orb weavers (family Araneidae), among others.  Plus, we're unlikely to get rained out, as happened during the long, wet spring this year.  

Darrell is an arachnololgist with the California Academy of Sciences and his knowledge is matched only by his infectious enthusiasm.  His trips are very popular with kids as well as adults.

Meet behind the Glen Park Recreation Center where the lawn stops and the wild part of the canyon starts.  Contact: dubick(at)


A Council Subcommittee and interested citizens will meet to tour Brisbane’s Sierra Point on Thursday, September 15th at 5:30pm at the Brisbane Marina Office, Sierra Point.   Discussion will be about Public Open Space uses, views, and best use of the waterfront.   The goal is to give direction to the city for future development guidelines. 
There are habitat values, recreation opportunities and grand vistas at stake.  Find out what is under consideration and be a part in helping keep our waterfront open, sustainable, and accessible.

Info: Deputy City Clerk- Wendy Franklin-Ricks 415-508-2144
(not printed by the city)


5.  CCSF Native Plant Garden

Hi Jake,
    My name is Amy Ellevold and I am running the native plant garden at city college with a fellow student this year. We are having an event to introduce the garden on September 29th at 3pm. I was hoping you could list it in your news letter. We would also love for you or any native plant enthusiast to be there. One of our main goals this year is to educate as many people as possible and I heard that your news letter is a great resource. I would love it if you could add me to the list so I could read it too. Thanks so much for your time (and all the work you do with native plants).


6.  Please let everyone you know in SF who shops at Whole Foods to shop this Wednesday, Sept. 14th at the 24th Street, Noe Valley store!! SaveNature.Org was chosen as the 5% recipient.
Whole Foods: 5% Day Benefiting SaveNature.Org's Edible EdVentures

If your shopping plans for the week include a stop at Whole Foods, then this Wednesday, Sept. 14th is the time to shop at the Noe Valley store - 3950 24th Street and support our educational outreach programs.

5% of the total sales for the day will be donated to SaveNature.Org  The donation will be used to help bring our Edible EdVenture program to inner city school children to link  which inspires children, parents and teachers to consider earth-friendly food choices through hands-on demonstrations, interactive lessons, and scientific experiments. Edible EdVentures will come to classrooms and communities and cultivate an understanding of the linkage between food and nature.

7.  On Sep 12, 2011, at 11:36 AM, Steve Lawrence wrote:
> To all I commend Gibson's The Bedside Book of Beasts. Two example quotations:
> [In response to predatory urges] “we developed our nimble minds, our weapon-making skills, our agile and fertile brains. Our imperatives were no different than those of any species: to eat, procreate, and avoid being eaten. Only our method of coping was unique: the enormous development of our cerebral functions, which in time led to language, arts, and to a vision of God.” -F. Leydet
> “The heart has its reasons that reason cannot know. While Reason may help us develop strategies for mending the earth and ourselves, it will not open us to the process and possibilities that help us reconnect with the animal inside us... Until we do that the mind will continue to spin its wheels.” -Pascal.
> Steve Lawrence 
> Available at SF Public Library, 347 pages, illustrated, Doubleday, 2009



(Seems a number of people have been speaking to God, although she has never spoken to me.  I remember Ellen DeGeneres picking up the telephone and dialing God):

DeGeneres:  ...Ellen DeGeneres here. (Pause)... No, DeGeneres.

God (saying something which the audience can't hear)

DeGeneres:  Yes, it does sound a little like that, doesn't it?




The Kingfisher

The kingfisher rises out of the black wave
like a blue flower, in his beak
he carries a silver leaf. I think this is
the prettiest world -- so long as you don't mind
a little dying, how could there be a day in your whole life
that doesn't have its splash of happiness?
There are more fish than there are leaves
on a thousand trees, and anyway the kingfisher
wasn't born to think about it, or anything else.
When the wave snaps shut over his blue head, the water
remains water--hunger is the only story
he has ever heard in his life that he could believe.
I don't say he's right. Neither
do I say he's wrong. Religiously he swallows the silver leaf
with its broken red river, and with a rough and easy cry
I couldn't rouse out of my thoughtful body
if my life depended on it, he swings back
over the bright sea to do the same thing, to do it
(as I long to do something, anything) perfectly.


~ Mary Oliver ~

(House of Light)


10.  The Planning & Conservation League, joining with a coalition including Sierra Club California, Coalition for Clean Air, Clean Water Action, and a host of environmental justice and community groups from the Los Angeles area and throughout California, tried valiantly to stave off three bills that will weaken protections of The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

Unfortunately, SB 226 (Simitian), SB 292 (Padilla) and AB 900 (Buchanan), all either introduced or dramatically amended in the last 36 hours of the legislative session, passed the Legislature on its final day of session. SB 226 will, if signed into law by the Governor, exempt from CEQA certain urban projects deemed ‘green’, with inadequate definitions of for what defines ‘urban’ and ‘green’. It could, therefore, allow sprawl or other large-effect projects without adequate environmental review. AB 900, while not an exemption, “streamlines” CEQA’s judicial review requirements, potentially limiting the public’s voice in challenging projects. And SB 292 is, most simply, special treatment under the law for an influential developer (AEG) seeking to build a downtown Los Angeles football stadium. By depriving petitioners of the opportunity for superior court jurisdiction, SB 292 and AB 900 may even violate the California Constitution. 

...but these 11th-hour efforts, while perhaps well-intentioned, were ill-conceived. They attack important protections of CEQA that have given communities a voice in the development process for more than four decades, with a great deal of uncertainty as to whether these measures were needed to, or will in fact, create more jobs in California.  Moreover, the measures themselves were hastily crafted and poorly thought-out. ...In addition to depriving legislators with final bill language before they voted, the rushed process also deprived the public from having meaningful input into the process.

...we continue to advocate for CEQA to remain a strong environmental bill of rights for all Californians.


11.  24 Hours of Reality
Wednesday, September 14
Starts at 7:00 pm

Have you been noticing the weather getting wilder where you live, and in the news around the world?

Well, we wanted to share with you an exciting global event that will help connect the dots between the wild weather we're seeing, climate change, and why it's so important we move quickly to find alternatives to fossil fuels.

The event is called 24 Hours of Reality, and it will be a 24-hour worldwide marathon all about the reality of the climate crisis. Around the world, from New York City to South Africa to the Solomon Islands, people will use the power of the Internet to present their stories of living with climate change. These stories will make clear the connection between extreme weather and the carbon pollution that's changing our climate.

All the presentations, which will be in multiple languages, and in every single time zone, will be streamed live at You can also stop by the Peninsula Conservation Center at 6:30 p.m. for a viewing at 7:00 p.m.


12.  Feedback

> On Sep 10, 2011, at 8:52 AM, Clark L. Natwick wrote:
>> The upshot of all this is that we live in a universe whose age we can't quite compute,  surrounded by stars whose distances we don't altogether know,  filled with matter we can't identify, operating in conformance with physical laws  whose properties we don't truly understand.
The upshot of what?  Is this in response to something I had in my newsletter?
> Hi Jake, Your newsletter takes the reader's attention to many issues, from endangered manzanita to viewing constellations.  I thought this quote was a type of confession of the limits of our knowledge.  I don't take the quote to be a resignation from inquiry.  Your newsletter reflects a zest for knowledge and understanding. I read and enjoy every issue.

On Sep 10, 2011, at 1:44 PM, Robert Laws wrote:
> Jake, Thank you for the always interesting NN.   Can  you direct me to the text for the quote:
> A quote from the ancient orator Isocrates: “Democracy destroys itself because it abuses its right to freedom and equality. Because it teaches its citizens to consider audacity as a right, lawlessness as a freedom, abrasive speech as equality, and anarchy as progress.”
From an article in Vanity Fair explaining the moral degeneration that has resulted in the Greek debt crisis.  I want to agree with Isocrates; however, when you have other forms of govt besides democracy you get rot also.

Jake Sigg to ML Carle, who sent me the preceding quote:
Wasn't it Churchill who said (perhaps not verbatim) "Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others."

He also said:  "The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation  with the average voter." — Winston Churchill

The Athenians, who invented democracy, were not entirely comfortable with it, and many (including, unsurprisingly, Socrates and Plato) opposed it.  After the Peloponnesian War democracy was overthrown for a few years, but then it was restored, as the oligarchy was worse.

So what does it all mean?  It means that we are a cussed lot and don't take well to being governed.  Sometimes after hearing complaints about govt or politicians I think "If you're looking for a culprit, why don't you look in the mirror?"


13.  Cats 

Ann Halton:
> This is my 'measured response' to 'cats and birds/ Grey Brechin'.
> Once again I'm well aware that feral cats have affected birds in a negative way.
> Has anyone reading this website who complains about bird loss ever tried to help get feral cats fixed so they can't have babies? Has anyone helped outlaw highly unnecessary breeding of cats:breeding done for profit ? How about we outlaw breeding, both 'professional' and casual, until every single shelter animal is adopted? 
> And keeping cats indoors is not cruel. Mine has something to climb up and down on, room to run and is extremely well cared for. If I let her roam, she would poop in other gardens, get hit by a car, get bitten by other animals, get mistreated by a cat-hater, would pick up fleas and ticks, get poisoned and god knows what else.
> I love birds,too. I've tried to help. Have you?
I think you're taking this too seriously, Ann.  

For the umpteenth time I will warn readers of the dangers of email.  I think you and Gray would get along just fine if you met, but you are beginning to raise your voices, and a shouting match might follow.  Words divide--but mostly printed words--eg, 'cruel'.  I don't recall anyone calling keeping cats indoors 'cruel'.  I dislike keeping them indoors, but I don't consider it cruel; it's just a preference, and it's a choice I made.  Spoken words communicate much much more.

As for fixing feral cats, there are large programs for this very thing, called Trap, Neuter, Release, or TNR for short.  It is effective in preventing a population explosion, but it doesn't prevent people from dumping cats they no longer want, which they do all the time.  Thus, there is a constant supply, and it is hell on birds and other wildlife.
> Hi Jake, O.K. o.k. I herewith raise the white flag. I do understand what you are saying. Thanks.

This exchange has prompted me to go to my Cat file, where I found the following:

"He will kill mice and he will be kind to Babies when he is in the house, just as long as they do not pull his tail too hard.  But when he has done that, and between times, and when the moon gets up and night comes, he is the Cat that walks by himself, and all places are alike to him.  Then he goes out to the Wet Wild Woods or up the Wet Wild Trees or on the Wet Wild Roofs, waving his wild tail and walking by his wild lone."
Rudyard Kipling, The Cat That Walked by Himself

From Scientific American, June 2009:

*  Unlike other domesticated creatures, the house cat contributes little to human survival.  Researchers have therefore wondered how and why cats came to live among people.

*  Experts traditionally thought that the Egyptians were the first to domesticate the cat, some 3,600 years ago.

*  But recent genetic and archaeological discoveries indicate that cat domestication began in the Fertile Crescent, perhaps around 10,000 years ago, when agriculture was getting under way.

*  The findings suggest that cats started making themselves at home around people to take advantage of the mice and food scraps found in their settlements.

The Truth about Cats and Dogs

Unlike dogs, which exhibit a huge range of sizes, shapes, and temperaments, house cats are relatively homogeneous, differing mostly in the characteristics of their coats.  The reason for the relative lack of variability in cats is simple:  humans have long bred dogs to assist with particular tasks, such as hunting or sled pulling, but cats, which lack any inclination for performing most tasks that would be useful to humans, experienced no such selective breeding pressures.

When I purr
Don’t infer
It’s because you pat.
No, you pat
Because I purr
I am the cat.
Don’t forget that.
Roy Blount, Jr

Following up on the (above) Scientific American article:

Only here for biscuits
We have to lower our expectations when it comes to our cats
By Paul MacInnes, Guardian Weekly 05.06.09

…In other words, we didn’t domesticate cats, they domesticated themselves.  The animal was not tamed by the human, it looked the human up and down, liked what it saw and decided it would put on its cutest expression and pretend to be friends.

Cat owners reading this, perhaps with Tango or Whiskey (or both) sitting nonchalantly on top of their paper, may not be overly surprised to learn of these zoological developments.  Unlike obliging, loving, slavering dogs, cats can often give the distinct impression of only being in it for the tuna-flavoured biscuits.  The fact that this might be a habit established over millennia only proves the consistency of their interests.

That said, the postulations of the academics ought to give those same owners pause for thought.  For every moment of insistent miaowing for meat, there is also the soft purring your cat emits while it submits willingly to your caress, seemingly because it likes it.  It is all too easy for humans to imagine a sophisticated relationship between themselves and their familiar.  As opposed, say, to it being just an extended period of transactions designed to guarantee the continued delivery of Whiskas.

It seems that now might be the time to revise downwards our expectations of cats.  To continue to imagine, as I have done myself, that a cat actually loves you may only lead to heartbreak when the next study comes out revealing that, far from having an emotional bond with his human host, Felix has in fact conducted due diligence on his owner before deigning to move in.

The other extreme, of refusing to countenance any bond with your beast, would also prove unproductive, I suspect.  Instead, I think, the model for our cats should be roughly the same as for our MPs (Member of Parliament):  acknowledge that we need them, but let our trust in them be a wary one.

“Cats are smarter than dogs.  You can’t get eight cats to pull a sled through snow.”  Jeff Valdez

“Dogs come when they’re called; cats take a message and get back to you.”  Mary Bly

“If a cat spoke, it would say things like ‘Hey, I don’t see the problem here.”  Roy Blount, Jr.

When Coyote's Away, Cats Will Prey
RECENT RESEARCH IN SOUTHERN California's coastal sage scrub and chaparral suggests that small predators can have surprisingly big impacts on native birds, while large predators actually boost populations of birds and other potential prey. Biologist Kevin Crooks calls this seaside region "one of the world's largest epicenters of extinction," but relatively wild, steep-sided canyons break up the densely developed mesas surrounding San Diego. And in at least some of these fragments of natural habitat, the ever-adaptable coyote is still top dog. If coyotes get edged out and vacate a canyon, though, all hell breaks loose-ecologically speaking.
When the top predator disappears, says Crooks, smaller carnivores like foxes, skunks, raccoons, and house cats tend to take over, with consequences that cascade throughout the ecosystem. Even minor increases in the numbers and activity of these so-called mesopredators help push populations of such birds as the California gnatcatcher, California quail, and cactus wren closer to vanishing from a canyon. Roadrunners have already been forced from all but the largest canyons in San Diego County.
"You wouldn't expect that the presence of coyotes would benefit prey populations, but there's greater predation pressure from all these smaller predators," says Crooks, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California at San Diego. The idea that larger carnivores might keep numbers of small carnivores in check-and that losing the top dog would free smaller predators to ride roughshod on prey-had been proposed more than a decade ago to explain the rapid decline in certain scrub birds noted by Crooks's former professor, Michael Soulé, and colleagues. Even as the "mesopredator release" hypothesis became widely embraced as part of carnivore conservation plans nationwide, however, its central tenets remained untested. Crooks set out to do just that. "Kevin's work put meat on the skeleton of the theory," says California Department of Fish and Game biologist Ron Jurek, while providing hard evidence as to how this particular ecosystem works.
Between 1995 and 1997, Crooks studied the dynamics of predators and their feathered prey in 28 habitat fragments that sampled the range of size, age, and isolation in San Diego's canyons. The presence of coyotes turned out to be a major predictor of bird diversity. Nearly half of the study plots contained at least one coyote full-time, while in other plots coyotes would come and go. Mesopredator activity increased wherever coyotes were absent, but even coyotes' part-time presence provided sufficient impetus for cats and skunks and such to lie low or stay away. After accounting for the likelihood of birds faring poorly in older and smaller fragments, Crooks found that mesopredators reduced bird diversity. Ten years after local bird numbers were first detected to be dropping, the population extinctions had largely continued.
Worst offender among mesopredators is the domestic cat. By surveying neighborhood residents, Crooks learned that a third of homeowners bordering the canyons kept cats, and most pet cats spent time outdoors. A canyon that might harbor a pair of coyotes or a few foxes thus became hunting ground for dozens of cats. The overwhelming abundance of cats, plus their habit of hunting for fun as much as for food, increased their toll on native prey. In a paper published last year in Nature, Crooks and Soulé estimate from survey results that cats took home about 840 rodents, 595 lizards, and 525 birds yearly from a 50-acre canyon (and other studies show that cats kill many more animals than they drop on their owners' doorsteps).
Coyotes hunt their fair share of native prey, too, but Crooks found that local coyotes also eat a wide variety of garden fruits and vegetables, as well as a considerable number of cats. Cat remains were in 21 percent of coyote scat examined during the course of Crooks's study, and coyotes killed a quarter of radio-collared pet cats that he monitored.
Much like mesopredators, cat owners seem to sense when coyotes might pass through their local canyon; this perceived threat causes people to restrict their pet's outdoor forays, which indirectly benefits biodiversity. "If you want to protect species," concludes Crooks, "you ought to foster coyotes." And keep the cats indoors.

Blake Edgar (formerly with the California Academy of Sciences)


High Country News 5 September 2011

And lastly, Einstein:

"The wireless telegraph is not difficult to understand.  The ordinary telegraph is like a very long cat.  You pull the tail in New York, and it meows in Los Angeles.  The wireless is the same, only without the cat."

This quote reportedly kept (Erwin) Schrodinger awake well past his bedtime.  (Reported by Steve Mirsky in Scientific American, Sept 2002

[Note:  This is a tongue in cheek item from Steve Mirsky.  Erwin Schrodinger was one of the unwitting architects of quantum mechanics.  Unwitting, because he was appalled at the implications of the theory he helped to create--as was Einstein--and both of them did everything they could to disprove or discredit it.  Steve Mirsky's impish joke about keeping Schrodinger awake refers to this.  JS]


14.  Astronomy photography

(For such sophisticated photographs of awe-inspiring subjects, I found the commentary could stand improvement:  "amazing, incredible, absolutely beautiful, absolutely amazing, breathtaking," &c.  While writing that sentence I found it difficult to avoid over-used words--such as those.  Maybe we should all just shut up for a few days, months, years.  JS)


15.  LTE, The Economist

Poetic form
Sir:  At 11 words, Harold Pinter's shortest poem was certainly enigmatic:  

"I saw Len Hutton in his prime
Another time
another time."

So was Simon Gray's response when, a few days after sending him the poem, Pinter phoned Gray to check if he had received it.  He replied he had, but "I haven't finished reading it yet".

Kaushik Basu
Chief economic adviser
Ministry of Finance
For updates and info, contact scott at planttrees dot org.