Notes from the Field: June

Happy summer! June was a month of reflecting on where we’ve been, planning for the future, and dealing with the drought in the present here in the Peninsula. Here’s what’s been happening in the land conservation world this past month:

Long Ridge Open Space Preserve © Charlie Theodorovich (via the San Francisco Chronicle)

Can you count the POST-protected properties in the San Francisco Chronicle’s list of the best photos from open space preserves on the Peninsula in the past year?

An outline of the projects MROSD will be able to complete (including opening many POST-protected properties to the public!) thanks to the funds from Measure AA.

New York Times food columnist Mark Bittman explains why land trusts’ work is so important in the quest to create more farmers in America.

As the drought continues to ravage California, the state has started restricting farmers’ legacy water rights for the first time.

If there’s any upside to the drought, it’s that it’s at least helping make California’s beaches cleaner.

A local artist is creating art with an ecological bent in residence at POST-protected Cooley Landing in East Palo Alto this summer.

A touching tribute to the Lutheran pastor who went on to save thousands of acres of local redwood forests as the leader of POST’s partner Sempervirens Fund.

On finding inspiration along the Devil’s Slide Trail.

Photo credit: Long Ridge Open Space Preserve © Charlie Theodorovich (via the San Francisco Chronicle)

Notes from the Field: June

charlie-theodorovich_long-ridge_winner-landscape

Happy summer! June was a month of reflecting on where we’ve been, planning for the future, and dealing with the drought in the present here in the Peninsula. Here’s what’s been happening in the land conservation world this past month:

Can you count the POST-protected properties in the San Francisco Chronicle’s list of the best photos from open space preserves on the Peninsula in the past year?

An outline of the projects MROSD will be able to complete (including opening many POST-protected properties to the public!) thanks to the funds from Measure AA.

The Santa Clara County Open Space Authority opened Coyote Valley Open Space Preserve south of San Jose, which reignited debate over the area’s future.

New York Times food columnist Mark Bittman explains why land trusts’ work is so important in the quest to create more farmers in America.

As the drought continues to ravage California, the state has started restricting farmers’ legacy water rights for the first time.

If there’s any upside to the drought, it’s that it’s at least helping make California’s beaches cleaner.

local artist is creating art with an ecological bent in residence at POST-protected Cooley Landing in East Palo Alto this summer.

A touching tribute to the Lutheran pastor who went on to save thousands of acres of local redwood forests as the leader of POST’s partner Sempervirens Fund.

On finding inspiration along the Devil’s Slide Trail.

What did we miss? Let us know in the comments!

Photo credit: Long Ridge Open Space Preserve © Charlie Theodorovich (via the San Francisco Chronicle)

POST’s Summer Reading List Part 2

by Manon von Kaenel, former Communications Intern and Lily Hartzell, Communications Intern

Here’s the second half of our summer reading list, featuring books on human experiences in nature and history (go here if you missed part one earlier this week). Pick one of these books, recommended by our staff, and get reading!

(c) Paolo Vescia 2014

Hikers at Windy Hill Open Space Preserve

Human Experiences in Nature

Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey

A philosophical memoir depicting and reflecting on the experiences of the “Thoreau of the American West” as a park ranger and conservationist in the southwestern wilderness.

Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner

A Pulitzer Prize-winning saga of one family in the American West, written by the legendary local environmental leader and namesake of POST’s Wallace Stegner Lectures.

Big Rock Candy Mountain by Wallace Stegner

Another novel by Stegner, this time looking at a poverty-stricken family trying to make it in the West in the early twentieth century. Julie Campbell, Digital Marketing Manager, recommends these two novels by Wallace Stegner because of their “beautiful descriptions of Western landscapes, and discussion of sense of place and what it means to be a Westerner and an American.”

My Antonia by Willa Cather

Published in 1918, this beautiful and sensitive masterpiece by one of American literature’s most important women novelists brings the American Midwest to life and notably highlights the role of women pioneers.

Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner

One of POST President, Walter Moore’s, favorite books, this novel follows the friendship of two couples as they move between Wisconsin and Vermont. Can you tell we’re Stegner fans?

History

The Golden Shore by David Helvarg

A geographic and literary chronicle of the cultural and natural history and current environmental struggles of California’s coasts and oceans.

Cadillac Desert by Mark Reisner

A classic account of land development and water policy in the American West and its long-term impacts on environmental health. “Especially for newer arrivals to the state (many of us!), it can really help by explaining, among other things, why southern California is so heavily developed, and why the Owens Valley is so dry,” Tricia Suvari, Vice President of Acquisition and General Counsel, says.

The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan

The National Book Award-winning account of the people who struggled through the Great American Dust Bowl by one of POST’s 2013 Wallace Stegner Lectures speakers.

Tending the Wild by M. Kat Anderson

Contrary to popular belief, California was not pure wilderness before Europeans arrived. Anderson’s book explains the ways Native Americans shaped the landscape with their own brand of conservation. “After reading it you have a much better appreciation of the various landscape types and plants that grow in them, as well as for the cultures and people who tended them for thousands of years,” Outreach Manager Mark Mereidos says.

Now that you know about POST’s favorite nature and conservation-focused reads, what are some of your favorites we could add to this list? Comment below!

POST’s Summer Reading List Part 1

by Manon von Kaenel, former Communications Intern and Lily Hartzell, Communications Intern

What better way to spend a relaxing summer afternoon than to read a book on the beach? POST staffers love both reading and spending time outdoors, and want to share that love with you with this list of their must-read books (part one of two). The first part of the list focuses on books about flora and fauna, food, health, and environmental ethics. There’s something for any land and nature enthusiast here: academic essays, touching memoirs, fascinating adventure stories, engrossing novels, and more. We hope you take some time to read and learn about issues regarding open space in our local open spaces before the end of summer!

A few of the books POST staffers recommend

A few of the books POST staffers recommend

Flora and Fauna

The Wild Trees by Richard Preston

The story, written by one of the speakers at POST’s 2011 Wallace Stegner Lectures, of a small group of daredevil botanists and amateur naturalists who discovered and explored the uncharted canopy of northern California’s ancient redwood forests. It comes recommended by three POSTies, and as Program Development Director Gordon Clark says, “It’s a must read for anyone who admires the natural icon of our region.”

Rare Bird: Pursuing the Mystery of the Marbled Murrelet by Maria Mudd Ruth

An extraordinary look at the life of the marbled murrelet, the endangered seabird that lives in old-growth forests of coastal western US, and the people it has touched.

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard

This non-fiction narrative follows Dillard’s exploration of the Roanoke Valley in Virginia. She tells stories of the wildlife she finds there and the cycle of the seasons.

Food

The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan

This “natural history of four meals” by bestselling author and food movement leader Pollan discusses where our food comes from and challenges the way we think about America’s eating habits. It’s a “must-read for anyone even passably interested in food,” says Julie Campbell, Digital Marketing Manager.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver

Kingsolver remembers a year during which her family attempted to eat only self- or locally-grown food. “It’s not especially academic, but it is a great narrative about what it is like to begin farming and educate yourself about the food system,” Development Associate Brooke Mead says.

Farmacology by Daphne Miller

A Bay Area practicing physician and professor explores the health lessons from sustainable family farms to go beyond ‘you are what you eat’ to ‘you are where what you eat comes from.’

Health

Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv

This national bestseller discusses how our children are becoming alienated from the land by a plugged-in modern lifestyle and the costs of that alienation, in what child advocacy expert Louv calls nature-deficit disorder.

The Nature Principle by Richard Louv

Louv urges us via anecdotes and groundbreaking research to re-envision the future by tapping into the restorative powers of nature. Director of Land Acquisition Noelle Thurlow, who recommended both books by Louv, says, “The books both detail the importance of nature in our lives.”

Environmental Ethics

The Trouble with Wilderness, or Getting Back to the Wrong Nature by William Cronon

The thought-provoking essay by noted environmental historian Cronon traces the history of the idea of ‘wilderness’ in the US and posits that pristine wilderness is a misguided fantasy.

Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold

The influential Leopold’s most famous book is more than a collection of essays about the diversity of American landscapes and environmental ethics: it’s a brilliant tribute to the land we love.

Diversity of Life by Edward O. Wilson

The great biologist eloquently describes the evolution of biodiversity on earth, and how anthropogenic pressures on that biodiversity are requiring us to shift our priorities and develop a new environmental ethic.

Stay tuned for the second half of the list, featuring books about humans in nature and history, coming next week! Meanwhile, tell us your favorite nature-themed titles in the comments.

Alex’s Reflection

By Alex Casbara, former Communications Intern

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Reflecting on my POST internship, three projects strike me as particularly rewarding. First, my demographics research harnessed broad data to identify target audiences, leverage geographic resources, and weave a cohesive outreach strategy. This was a wonderful opportunity to learn the mechanics of communications planning, and I’ve already applied these skills to other facets of my professional life. I am grateful for the opportunity to present my research to staff, which provided an initial talking point for me to engage coworkers in other departments. Visiting the Facebook HQ was icing on the cake. In fact, I was very happy to attend a variety POST events, both internal and external, where I interacted with staff and supporters.

The Markegard Family Grass-fed ranch workday was another fulfilling project that I was happy to take from start to finish.The participant management and web promotion were particularly valuable, and the database experience (through tedious) will help move me forward in my career. After navigating the event process, I have renewed respect for the intense planning process and Mark’s calm, cool, collected demeanor on Lecture nights.

As my time at POST winds down, I am thrilled about the upcoming series of recreation maps. This project fulfills one of my personal goals, and I learned much about land conservation and POST’s history in the Peninsula through my research. I personally took advantage of my fledgling familiarity with POST-protected lands by stumbling over banana slugs under Purisima’s redwoods, enjoying coastal serenity on Pillar Point, and getting lost trying to find the Phleger Estate. I finally appreciate the dizzying variety of landscapes packed into our small peninsula.

Many thanks to Mark for laying the track for me to smoothly glide along, and my regards to everyone else at POST for the friendly three months (and the ceaseless supply of delicious kitchen treats).

See you all soon,

Alex

Fighting Nature Deficit Disorder

By Vivian Underhill, former Conservation Landscape Intern

If you’re reading this, you likely know first-hand the restorative benefits of an afternoon spent outside. In fact, the intangible scenic and spiritual effects of open spaces often motivate conservation work just as much as ecological research does. We often say we’re conserving this land for future generations, but how can we pass on this deep-seated respect for open space to ensure they’ll take good care of the land we’ve protected?

A new report by Ken Finch and Andrew Loza at the Pennsylvania Land Trust Association, called Nature Play: Nurturing Children and Strengthening Conservation Through Connections to the Land, investigates the effects of unstructured play time in the outdoors. This report is one part of a larger movement to restore nature exploration to childhood. Journalist Richard Louv first characterized the idea in his 2005 book, Last Child in the Woods, in which he coined the term “nature deficit disorder.” “Passion,” he wrote, “is lifted from the earth itself by the muddy hands of the young; it travels along grass-stained sleeves to the heart. If we are going to save environmentalism and the environment, we must also save an endangered indicator species: the child in nature.”

Nature Play finds that simply playing outside instills deep conservation values in children and fosters their cognitive, creative, physical, social, and emotional growth. In this era of overscheduled afternoons, nervous parents, and record amounts of screen time, nature play has never been more important. But how to make it happen?

Just Relax

First and foremost, kids must connect with nature on their own terms. The key is for the children to feel that their play is self-guided and has the room to grow and evolve on its own, a feeling that can be squashed by adults trying too hard to force engagement or structure activities. Children’s worlds are small and intimate, and even small patches of wild land are sufficient to let children’s imaginations roam.

illustration from Finch and Loza 2015

illustration from Finch and Loza 2015

This suggestion to ease the rules may be hard for conservation organizations to swallow. In a world where intact open space and wilderness is so limited, Leave No Trace laws make obvious sense. But prohibiting so many types of actions can end up creating a hard boundary between children and the natural world around them.

Perhaps there are places, around trails or trailheads, where insects can be collected, sticks can be broken, rocks can be thrown, and trees can be climbed with minimal harm done to the land. After all, “If 1,000 children do this at a natural area for 100 years, they will… probably do less ecological harm than was done creating the driveway, parking lot or trail for public access to the natural area.”

Illustration from Finch and Loza 2015

Illustration from Finch and Loza 2015

What Can We Do?

Conservation organizations are already working toward remedies for kids’ nature deficit. California’s Feather River Land Trust aims to create Outdoor Classrooms – open spaces dedicated to kids’ exploration and education – within a 10-minute walk of every public school in their service area. Many organizations have found that their nature playscapes have attracted new visitors, ambassadors, and donors. POST has already protected a network of open spaces around the Silicon Valley corridor, increasing kids’ and families’ access to the outdoors. From Bair Island, where kids can spot numerous birds, harbor seals, and leopard sharks, to Cowell Ranch, where kids can play in beach sand less than a mile from the highway, POST lands provide numerous nature play opportunities for all ages.

It’s becoming increasingly clear that the long-term viability of the conservation movement will rely on creating a new generation of stewards and activists. In that regard, attracting kids to nature is as pressing as land protection itself – and who better to lead the movement than land trusts and conservation organizations themselves?

The Berry-good Berry

By Krystel Malimban, former POST Communications Intern and Marti Tedesco, POST Senior Director, Marketing and Communications

copyright Getty ImagesNow is the time when local fruits and vegetables make their mark. Since June is also Fruit & Vegetable Month, we wanted to highlight a couple of local favorites: the delicious olallieberry and, of course, the strawberry.

An olallieberry is a cross between a loganberry and a youngberry, which means it is really ½ blackberry, ¼ raspberry, and ¼ dewberry. It is tart and slightly sweet and looks similar to a blackberry, but is darker in color, larger, and longer. George Waldo developed this juicy creation at Oregon State University in 1950. Its name comes from the Chinook word “olallie” which means berry. Though it was created to be cultivated in Oregon, the crop is now grown primarily in California, as it’s perfectly suited to the Bay Area’s climate. Its special flavor makes it a favorite in pies, preserves, muffins, scones, and cakes, and even as a sauce for savory meats. If you are interested, stop by Webb Ranch on Alpine Road in Portola Valley between mid-June and mid-July on Wednesdays and Saturdays to pick some ollalieberries (and lots of other berries) yourself. Learn more about Webb Ranch here. If you prefer to head to the coast, you can pick your own berries at Swanton Berry Farm. It’s a delicious and fun activity for people of all ages, and a great way to get outside with your family.

Strawberries, on the other hand, are a very old fruit. We know they were grown in Italy as long ago as 234 BC, and were first discovered in Virginia by the European settlers in 1588. As with many things, they made their way West and have been grown in California since the early 1900s. And boy, do they grow here! In fields from San Diego to San Mateo, California is responsible for 80% of the U.S. strawberry supply. A single acre produces 20-30 tons of berries! Strawberries are also a prime crop on a number of POST-protected farms on the San Mateo coast, including Blue House Farm and Pie Ranch. In our area, harvesting typically begins in April and continues through November, peaking in May or June. Strawberries are at their peak right now, so head to a u-pick farm or farmers market soon to pick some up!

Feeling inspired? Try these great recipes for ollalieberry cobbler and strawberry jam. They are surefire hits and you can take advantage of the best berries our local farms have to offer.

OLALLIEBERRY COBBLER

STRAWBERRY JAM