Tour stop: Environmental Education Center (EEC)
History of Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge
Through the early 1900s and into the 1960s portions of the San Francisco Bay and surrounding baylands had become a waste land – raw sewage, garbage, and landfill filled the edges of the bay. This alarmed many residents that recreated on the Bay, and enjoyed the windy edge of the Bay and all the plants and animals that live here. A group of residents formed a group called the South San Francisco Baylands Planning, Conservation and National Wildlife Refuge Committee, and they lobbied Congressman Don Edwards to create a National Wildlife Refuge in the South Bay. In 1972, Congress passed HR 111, sponsored by the Bay Area Delegation. The San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge was authorized to be 23,000 acres. The Refuge was formed, and land could be acquired. The Refuge has grown over the years and in 1988 was authorized to acquire land for a total size of 43,000 acres. The Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge was born out of the hard work and dedication of residents in the South San Francisco Bay. The organization, now called, the Citizens Committee to Complete the Refuge is still active today, they are dedicated to ensuring current and future generations of Bay Area residents have a clean, healthy, sustainable and vibrant San Francisco Bay.
The story of the San Francisco Bay begins millions of years ago when active faults folded and lifted the Santa Cruz Mountains and Berkeley Hills. During the last Ice Age (20,000 years ago,) mammoths and saber-toothed cats roamed the broad river valley between the Coastal Ranges. As temperatures warmed, the great glaciers melted and sea levels began to rise. Over many generations, the first human inhabitants witnessed the rising ocean waters enter through the Golden Gate and eventually fill this ancient river valley. Today, we call this body of water the San Francisco Bay.
With the help of many volunteers and staff members over the years, the Native Plant Garden at the Environmental Education Center flourishes with various California native plants that provide food and shelter for much wildlife. Some of the native plants in the garden include: Black Sage, California buckeye, California Fuschia, Lemonade Berry, Toyon, and Yarrow just to name a few. Visiting the Native Plant Garden you will hear songbirds singing, you'll see butterflies and bees enjoying the nectar of flowering plants, and you may spot jackrabbits hopping among the foliage. The Native Plant Garden is also a Monarch Waystation, providing Monarch butterflies a place to rest, feed, and lay eggs along their long migrations.
Gray Foxes are small omnivorous mammals that live on the Refuge. They eat plants and berries, but also enjoy rabbits and mice! They are specially adapted to climb trees, with rotating wrists and semi-retractable claws! Kits are born in mid-late Spring, and stay with the family through the end of Fall.
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