Together we Thrive!

AAU Ladscape Architecture Students summoning some much needed H20 with their rain dance! (IT WORKED!!!)

By Sara Giarratana

As cities and regions grow, the landscape is often altered to accommodate the needs of the people that live there. Oftentimes these changes are made without consideration for the other animals and plants existing in their natural habitats. It is easy to forget that human life is but one element in a larger system that must co-exist in order to maintain balance. Many ecosystems have been impacted by the abundant development of the San Francisco Bay Area, and as species are becoming threatened and endangered, we are called to intervene and re-establish a self-sustaining ecosystem for the region.

Just across the Golden Gate Bridge, at the mouth of the Redwood Creek Watershed at Muir Beach, a 46-acre project is underway to restore natural function to the creek, freshwater wetlands, tidal lagoons, and sand dunes. Since 2009, The National Park Service and Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy have been working with volunteers to improve the habitat of Coho Salmon, Steelhead Trout and California Red-legged Frogs. Students from the School of Landscape Architecture, Interior Architecture & Design and Game Design recently joined together to plant native Coyote Bush seedlings along the Dias Ridge at the project site.

We were welcomed by a cheerful group of interns from the GG National Parks Conservancy, who spoke to us about the Redwood Creek region and why it is important for this creek to flourish. For example, the range of the Coho Salmon stretches from Northern Alaska to the Redwood Creek, and their lifecycle depends upon the diversity of these waterways. The fish hatch in a freshwater creek, migrate to the ocean to mature, and return to the creek where they hatched in order to reproduce. The Coho can smell the soil in their home territory, and trust they will have a safe return! Sadly, due to drastic changes in the surrounding environment, including rerouting the creek to better serve grazing land for cattle, the Coho no longer have a place to lay their nest and are now listed as an endangered species. By restoring the creek and surrounding area to its natural state, there is hope that the Coho will thrive again!

This Landscape Workday is the first of many volunteer events planned for the semester. We consider ourselves lucky to live in such a beautiful and nourishing region; it is important to give back, especially to the flora and fauna that need it most!

After a long day’s work, we headed down to Muir beach for a lunch break, where we were greeted to beautiful sunshine along the California coastline! Rewarding!!!!

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