San Francisco 500 years ago, looking eastward across the Bay from Nob Hill. Coastal prairie grasses, and coastal sage scrub bushes cover the rocky hills and sand dunes. Oil on panel, Laura Cunningham, private collection.
What was Old California like 200 years ago? A thousand years ago? Point Reyes National Seashore and Golden Gate National Recreation Area are precious gems of the National Park Service. No other public lands contain such scenic cliffs, coastal prairies, redwood forests, and beaches along the Pacific Coast with a high diversity of native species and wildlife. Herds of tule elk still roam here, along with bobcats, badgers, and coyotes. Harbor seals, elephant seals, and whales can be viewed from the cliffs and beaches. Bird diversity is high, and salmon still swim up from the sea to spawn in streams. I joined this team of conservationists, film-makers, artists, and grassroots activists in order to increase the protection and truly restore Point Reyes National Seashore to it's original state.
This Pacific Coast region could be the Yellowstone of California if we, the public, push for it.
This website is a project of mine that resulted from an ongoing collaboration with many people. My goal is to be inclusive with all the experts and interested citizens who value conserving and restoring our Bay Area parks and wildlands.
Laura is an artist-naturalist who grew up in the Bay Area, and wrote and illustrated the ecological history book A State of Change: Forgotten Landscapes of California (Heyday: 2010), emphasizing native California grasslands, oak woodlands, shrublands, and forests once filled with salmon, antelope, elk, wolves, and grizzlies thriving for thousands of years before European Contact. She has a particular interest in native grasses and grasslands.
She has visited Point Reyes National Seashore since the 1980s, and jumped at the opportunity to work with conservation allies to further restore the Seashore and other National Park Service lands. She has been long involved in opposing development and urban impacts to the many other parks and last-remaining open spaces of the Bay Area.
To further her goals of conserving, restoring, and rewilding California, she joined the staff of Western Watersheds Project as their California Director in 2018.