Judging by its scenic photos of bridges, ships and seals, San Francisco Bay: Portrait of an Estuary is the kind of book a Bayside resident might keep on her coffee table as a reminder of why her ludicrous rent is worth it.
book is more than a Bayside lovefest: It’s also a reckoning
with just how polluted, dredged, diked and degraded this estuary
has become since the days when sea otters and blue whales still
swam inside the Golden Gate.
Writer John Hart chronicles
the ongoing efforts to clean up what’s left of these waters
and reveals the humble beginnings of that grand experiment. If not
for three faculty wives at the University of California at Berkeley
in 1960, there might be little left of the bay beyond a few foul
shipping channels. These women started the “Save the
Bay” movement back when cities were dredging and filling its
waters to make way for houses and residential streets.
Hart introduces other unexpected bay-savers, such as the
duckhunters who preserved a 140 square-mile swatch of marshlands to
support their bird-shooting habit. Even the military, which gobbled
up prime bay-view land for forts and bases, has proven a
benefactor: Much of that land is now home to public parks.
Still, this is the only large bay in the world where you can no
longer buy a single aquatic critter caught in its waters. Even the
Dungeness crab, once so abundant it was thought a nuisance, has
been overfished and crowded out by exotic invasive
Mucking around with Hart in the real San
Francisco Bay uncovers many of the other equally intriguing —
and often unintended — ways in which people are still
San Francisco Bay: Portrait of an
by John Hart, photographs by David
194 pages, hardcover $34.95.
of California Press, 2003.
Mucking around San Francisco Bay
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