When you step foot atop Twin Peaks in San Francisco, you imbibe sweeping views of a thriving metropolis nestled in nature. There are vast swaths of gray hugged by adjacent seas of green and blue. It’s not Brooks Range-esque wilderness, but as Bill Cronon professes, “what brought each of us to the places where such memories became possible is entirely a cultural invention.” Although I don’t always completely agree with Professor Cronon’s view of a necessarily anthropogenic wilderness – San Francisco undoubtedly stands as living proof that cultural intervention has allowed for these memories to be accessible (my interpretation) to the masses, not the few private property owners. Cultural intervention has also preserved a taste of wilderness, and the home of this unlikely resident of Twin Peaks, the Mission Blue Butterfly. MBB’s fly from about April to May, each year, a reminder of how delicate biodiversity can be, while at the same time celebrating the incredible resiliency of this tiny, ephemeral butterfly.
Two Golden Hour Restoration Institute volunteers restoring habitat for lupines, the host plant for the Mission Blue butterfly.
My biological field experience is what eventually led me to pick up a camera and use it as a tool for conservation and awareness. I was first attracted to the idea of creating National Geographic style images. You know, eye candy (for plant nerds). Grand, sweeping landscapes that sing of feelings of vastness and purity. Those classic photos oftentimes are thought to create a feeling of wilderness – a landscape untouched by humankind.
As I work more and more as a restoration ecologist, I have come to realize that the hand of humankind is critical in maintaining so many species and landscapes we might perfunctorily believe are “liberated” or protected from humans. It is our hands that help protect these places. And I’m not talking about raising fences and locking gates, I’m talking managing invasive plants, rewarding sensitive ranching practices, and leading hikes to get more people hooked on nature. Continue reading →
Restoration is a favorite activity of mine. There’s an intrinsic healing that happens within oneself when your hands get dirty, plants comes to life, caterpillars become butterflies, and you generally work as a hand that protects and celebrates nature. It’s kind of like gardening, but way cooler!
In this month, my field work has ramped up and there are lots of amazing flowers and creatures that have come to enjoy their rebirth in spring. This desktop calendar celebrates an almost 30 year effort to understand and save one species in particular, the Bay Checkerspot Butterfly.
Here’s my desktop calendar March – free for all who want to use it as such. I wanted to celebrate the work of Dr. Stuart Weiss (see this wacky character, mentor, revolutionary above) and his associates (okay, fine, I’m one of them) in restoring habitat before a species becomes extinct. More info about the Creekside Center for Earth Observation here. Click on the photo, then right click and save the image, or see the link below.