MARCH PARK E-VENTURES
SHARE YOUR STORY, WIN A PICNIC PACK
Birthday gatherings. Farewell parties. Wedding proposals. First kisses. Last good-byes. Remembering an old friend. And meeting new ones.
Tell us your personal favorite memory on Crissy Field and help create a living Valentine’s card to this shoreline park we love so much. You’ll be entered to win one of two Park Picnic Packs!
1. "Like" us on Facebook, if you haven’t done so already.
2. Visit our Crissy Stories Page, click on “Add a comment,” and tell us your favorite Crissy Field story (minimum 50 words). You’re automatically entered to win a picnic pack! (Limit one entry per Facebook profile.)
3. Encourage your friends to participate too. The more stories we gather, the bigger the two “picnic pack” prizes will be:
0–19 stories: Insulated lunch pack with Michael Schwab logo (insulated bag, vacuum-sealed storage container, divider inserts, recipes)
20–49 stories: Lunch pack + “I Hike” daypack
50–99 stories: Lunch pack + daypack + soft picnic blanket
100+ stories: Lunch pack + daypack + picnic blanket + comfy fleece vest
A random drawing of all entries will take place at noon on April 1, 2011. The two winners will be notified through Facebook.
Need a bit of inspiration? Park friend Sarah shared this story of a wonderful childhood memory of Crissy Field, and how that place continues to be a special place for Sarah and her father:
The first time I went to Crissy Field, I was young—probably around 5 or 6, and I went to fly kites with my dad. I remember the whipping wind, the rubble and the rocks around me, and the excitement I felt at seeing the kite swoop and fall.
Twenty years later, after I’d moved away from the Bay Area, I came back to San Francisco to visit my best friend. She was living in the Presidio at the time and suggested that we go for a run. We ran from her apartment to the new Crissy Field Promenade and all the way to Fort Mason. As I felt the push and pull of the wind, I had the strange sense that I’d been on that path before.
A few days later, I realized that we had passed the place where I flew kites with my dad, and could not believe the once-derelict spot was now part of a beautiful new park. Since that discovery, I’ve taken my dad back to Crissy Field many times. We both love the newly restored site and promenade.
And every once in awhile, just for old times’ sake, we still fly kites.
Now it’s your turn. Share with us a poignant memory or moment that you’ve had on Crissy Field. Your story—and those of your friends and neighbors—are what sustain the magic of a national park made by the community and for the community.
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Inspiring Young Emerging Leaders (I-YEL), a Crissy Field Center program comprised of 22 high school interns from San Francisco’s most diverse schools and neighborhoods, recently spent a weekend in Yosemite National Park. The interns connected with the environment, developed their leadership skills, strengthened relationships with team-building activities, and cross-country skied! Jenna Fiorella, a Sophomore at Lowell High School and 2nd year I-YELer, says that skiing was good preparation for their next challenge—hosting I-YEL’s first-ever youth summit.
“The cross-country ski experience really proved to all of us that we can challenge ourselves, push ourselves, and ultimately support ourselves up that hill,” Jenna says. “I believe that same stamina will help us overcome the hurdles this youth summit already seems to have laid out for us.”
The summit, scheduled for March 19–20, gives I-YELers an opportunity to share their enthusiasm for the outdoors and parks as well as hear new ideas on how to better connect their peers with their environment and share their appreciation for nature in everyone’s backyard.
A-HA! Drum roll please…. I-YEL’s first youth summit is named BACKYARD BOUND! In its inaugural year, this gathering will center on ways to reconnect youth back to the parks and the outdoors. The interns hope the summit will inspire teens to take advantage of the park resources in their own communities. At the Presidio’s newly renovated Rob Hill Campground, more than 100 Bay Area youth will spend two days camping and participating in outdoor experiential activities such as survival training, hiking, landscape water coloring, and a park-wide scavenger hunt.
“I’m really looking forward to how the participants will feel afterwards, because I believe that we’ve come up with an AMAZING agenda,” says first-year I-YELer Anny Ho, a sophomore at Art Academy and Science.
I-YEL has been busy planning the schedule, coordinating with other community group leaders, and doing hands-on research. The youth leaders stayed overnight at Rob Hill in February to scope out the site and get a feel for what to expect. For many I-YELers, this experience was a first.
“I had my first experience camping in a tent,” says Andy Yu, a first-year I-YELer and Galileo senior. “Although we are in our backyard, it feels like we’re a million miles away from home.”
Many I-YELers felt the site was great because while they were in the natural environment, the campground retained a “city feel.” They say that that is really important in acclimatizing urban youth with an environment they aren’t used to. They can experience the outdoors, without it feeling too daunting, and hopefully develop a comfortable, respectful, and appreciative relationship with nature.
“I’m looking forward to making a change in the participants,” says Roger Davila, a junior at June Jordan and first-year I-YELer. “I hope they’ll feel the urge to go out and explore their parks.”
We have no doubt that a change will come through the steady efforts of a strong and committed 2011 I-YEL team. Here at Crissy Field Center, we can’t wait to see how I-YEL will rise to the occasion, exceed expectations, and make this youth summit an annual one!
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By Allen Fish, GGRO Director
From the earliest days of monitoring the autumn raptor migration at the GGRO, visitors and volunteers have wondered, what happens in the spring? Do the raptors migrate back to the north? And can we see them over Hawk Hill in the Marin Headlands?
Back in 1987, a bunch of us took up this challenge and chose Sweeney Ridge above Pacifica as a great potential place to look for migrating hawks in April. Two spring seasons later, we had our answer. Some hawks were flying by, but not many, less than 10 hawks per hour…which was a little more exciting than watching paint dry.
But watching those few raptors flap northward up the spine of the Santa Cruz Mountains, we noticed something new. When the hawks departed the north end of Sweeney Ridge, they flew not north, but northeast. They appeared to be lining up toward San Bruno Mountain. This gave me my first clue that the spring raptor flight may not pass through the Marin Headlands, and for a good reason: why battle a headwind? As soon as those hawks left Sweeney Ridge they encountered the “gap” in the Coast Range that lets through the powerful Pacific winds, and these mostly northwest winds would fly in the face of a northbound hawk.
In April 1990, I spent some days up on top of Hawk Hill trying to test this hypothesis. On northwest winds, no hawks. On southwest winds (ahead of a Pacific storm), I’d see one hawk per minute. But the hawks were only coastal as long as the winds favored being on the coast, i.e., southwest winds.
For the next 15 years, that was my pat answer for the spring migration question: no southwinds, no spring flight in the Headlands. The hawks probably get diffused across California. But there’s another thing to consider. There are fewer hawks flying north in the spring, compared to the autumn. In the fall migration, although a full range of raptor ages may be flying past Hawk Hill, juvenile hawks predominate. About 80% of the raptors we count are young hawks, just months out of the nest. By the spring migration (mostly March through May) a large portion, roughly 50%, of these young birds have died due to wintertime starvation, disease, or human impacts. Bottom-line: spring migrations tend to be smaller flights overall compared to autumn migrations due to winter mortality, at least in the northern hemisphere.
IGNORANCE WAS BLISS
My spring-migration-theory bubble burst on March 30, 2005, when I got a phone call from GGRO volunteer Steve Bauer. Right at that moment, Steve was on Hawk Hill watching a Bald Eagle disappear to the north—a bird he thought was a migrant.
An hour earlier, Steve had been parked along Conzelman Road, watching the cliffs above Kirby Cove beach for signs of Peregrine Falcon mating behavior. And then, a male Peregrine streaked across the sky heading deep into upper Kirby Cove, clearly aiming for something. The streak turned to stoop and the territorial falcon balled its talons to glance off the back of a much larger blackish raptor. Steve’s scope stayed on the larger bird.
It was a Common Black-Hawk. First of its kind in the Headlands. Only one of a handful ever seen in Northern California.
Steve got in his car and raced up to the summit of Hawk Hill to get a better look. From there, he saw the last glimpse of the Black-Hawk heading north, but he also saw two Red-tails, a Red-shoulder, and a Kestrel way over to the east. And then the Bald Eagle. That was enough to convince me: Raptors do migrate through the Headlands on a northwest wind.
Starting the next morning, a handful of ace GGRO hawk-spotters started monitoring this flight. But we soon learned the best view wasn’t from Hawk Hill. It was easier to see the raptors arrive in the Marin Headlands from many of the turnouts along Conzelman Road. To make sense of this, think back to the predominant wind direction, northwest. And think of the Golden Gate itself as a kind of wind tunnel for this northwest wind, compressing it into a tight westerly.
Imagine that a hawk leaves San Francisco and travels across the Golden Gate tacking against the western cross-breeze. The hawk loses some altitude and so aims for the low spot on the Marin Headlands—Kirby Cove. Kirby Cove’s eastern boundary is Slacker Ridge, the long rocky north-south ridge that runs out to Battery Spencer. Our hawk makes the crossing, glides into Slacker Ridge, and then starts to rise. The lift is sudden and fast due to the muscular updrafts, caused by the ocean breezes against the western face of the ridgeline. The hawk fans out its tail and wings fully to receive this gift of rising air. The hawk rides to the ridgetop, reaching its maximum altitude, and then orients north and disappears from view.
So, a west wind supports the northbound migration just fine, but it does so by creating ridge-lift zones against the east faces of the larger hills and ridgelines. I believe that the headwind-problem I mentioned earlier (i.e., why would northbound hawks fly in the face of a coastal northwest wind?) is resolved in Kirby Cove because Hawk Hill itself—at 920 feet—serves to block the big northwest wind. Still the westerlies blow into the Golden Gate, and the hawks ride these up from Kirby Cove to Slacker Hill, and then north on to Mill Valley, Arcata, or Yellowknife up in Canada.
A LITTLE KNOWLEDGE
We tallied the spring flight for the rest of 2005 and found that it got pretty slow around mid-May. But we continued to monitor for full seasons (late February through mid May) from 2006 through 2010. And here’s some spring highlights from our five-year study:
- With an average of 200 hours of hawkwatching per spring, we observed from 3,200 to 4,100 raptors per season, with rates ranging from 16 to 20 raptors per hour. (For comparison, fall migration from Hawk Hill is 40 to 70 RpH.)
- All of the 19 regular raptor species seen in fall showed in the spring as well, with Turkey Vulture, Red-tailed, Sharp-shinned, and Cooper’s hawks taking the top four spots in both seasons.
- The proportions of juvenile (a hawk in its first of life) to adults are somewhat less than in the fall. For Sharp-shinned and Cooper’s hawks (accipiters), it’s close to 60% juveniles. For Red-tails, juvenile were less than 43% of the total; this compares to 75% in the fall.
CHECKING THE SPRING FLIGHT
- GGRO Intern Genevieve Rohzon looked more closely at the accipiter age breakdowns and discovered that the timing for each age was distinct. Adults consistently came though first in each year. Juveniles followed. Bird biologists would interpret this as the adults are hustling back to the north to get set up on their old favorite territories and get started on courtship and nesting, while juveniles are too young to breed and so meander north more slowly. Typical teenagers, of course.
Of course there’s a lot more to analyze in the spring flight. One of the cooler aspects for the nerdier birdwatchers among us is the chance to see hawks that have already begun their molt. Some of the accipiters and Red-tails especially have started to lose juvenile feathers in the wing, tail, or body, and the adult feathers are growing in or have grown in already. The new adult feathers tend to be darker and shinier—and so are fun to look for. Some hawks’ feathers are so ragged that they raise concerns about the birds’ ability to stay aloft. But they do.
If you want to come see the spring flight in the Marin Headlands, drive up to Hawk Hill or to a turnout on Upper Conzelman*, and find a good high spot that lets you see the mouth of Kirby Cove, and the west face of Slacker Ridge. During March through May, give yourself a good hour to get used to what’s going by. Try to make it mid-day with a light wind (1 to 5 knots) from the west. Watch for spots. Relax your eyes. The raptors will do the rest.
The GGRO spring hawk data were collected primarily by Steve Bauer, Tim Behr, Herb Brandt, and Nick Whelan. Thanks for their leadership and keen eyes. Another dozen GGRO folks showed up to help pick hawks out of the sky—and keep us honest.
*PLEASE NOTE: Beginning in April, Lower Conzelman Road will be closed for construction. You can still access Upper Conzelman Road and Hawk Hill via Bunker Road to McCullough Road; please see www.projectheadlands.gov for maps and timeline of closures and delays.
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This month, the Institute at the Golden Gate honors two activists who have inspired our work and dedicated their lives to creating a more sustainable planet—Judy Bonds and Dr. Stephen Schneider. The environmental community continues to be inspired by their legacies to change the world.
Judy Bonds, 2003 Goldman Environmental Prize winner and a leader in the fight against “mountaintop removal,” passed away on January 3, 2011 of cancer at the age of 58. Bonds worked tirelessly for environmental preservation, health, and human rights in the fight against Appalachian strip mining, a toxic and devastating practice adopted by coal companies. Judy’s dedication inspired others, like 2009 Goldman Environmental Prize winner Maria Gunnoe, to continue the fight against mountaintop removal in Appalachia. When Bonds spoke at the Institute’s Turning the Tide 2009 conference, she instantly caught people’s attention with her powerful will to stand up for her community, the environment, and human rights. Watch her video from Turning the Tide 2009 in our video gallery.
One of the pioneers of the climate change debate since the 1970s, Stephen H. Schneider, Ph.D, inspired Institute audiences over two consecutive years at Turning the Tide. Speaking at the event in both 2009 and 2010, Schneider moved listeners with his pointed humor and strong conviction on the need for systemic change at an international level. Schneider passed away unexpectedly at age 65 on July 19, 2010. A Professor of Biology and Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford University, Senior Fellow at the Woods Institute for the Environment, and consultant to White House administrations from Nixon to Obama, Dr. Schneider made it his mission to share climate science findings to the public. Watch Dr. Schneider’s eloquent speech at Turning the Tide 2009 here and listen to his Turning the Tide 2010 panel discussion with Alice Waters and others on the ties between our food system and climate change here (please advance to 21:18 in this video).
The Institute at the Golden Gate is deeply honored to have shared these unforgettable moments with these two noble leaders, and to be able to spread the timeless insight they have left with us.
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YEAR IN THE LIFE OF A NURSERY VOLUNTEER
By Michael Hanrahan
It has been one year now since I started working as a volunteer at the Presidio Nursery. It has been a very fulfilling experience, and the one year mark gives me a chance to look back and see the full cycle of the seasons.
Working at the Presidio Nursery is always an adventure, because there are different activities and tasks that need to be done each time I volunteer. Things start off each Wednesday and Saturday in the habitarium, the small building where we sign in and get our assignments for the day. Ely Huerta Ortiz, the Volunteer Coordinator and Education Manager, describes each of the day’s activities in enthusiastic detail, making sure everybody has a task, and then leads the group in a big clap or a “Whoop Whoop!” to give us all energy.
When I started working at the Presidio Nursery last February, the first task I did was plant seeds with Schuyler and Danny, two of the Nursery interns at the time. Each year, a new group of interns come into the Nursery, so there are always new people to meet. The interns are a great help to the volunteers and always eager to share their skills.
Schuyler and Danny showed us how to plant seed, taking time to carefully explain each step in the process. The seeds were tiny, so we had to be very meticulous in using tweezers to extract them from a bowl and place them carefully into a small pot with soil. Then, the seeds were covered up with a very thin layer of additional soil. A few weeks later, when the seeds started to sprout and grow into seedlings, we worked with Brianna, the Nursery Manager, to transplant them into larger containers and give them a little more room to grow.
One of my favorite activities is to go out into the field to collect seeds. This usually starts in the late spring and continues through the summer. The first time I collected seeds, fellow volunteer Kyoungha Kim and I went to the Fort Scott lawn with Michele, the Seed Ecologist and Research Manager for the Nursery. Michele is a great teacher who can patiently identify a plant and explain all of its components to novices like us. We were looking for Miner’s Lettuce that day, and Michele taught us how to find the shiny black seeds and pick out the ones that were ready to be collected. Another time, Michele brought me to the sand ladder at the Coastal Bluffs, where we collected lupine seeds. Other seed collecting expeditions have been for Presidio clarkia with Danny at Inspiration Point, and for baccharis (coyote brush) with Schuyler at Lobos Creek.
Another ongoing activity that takes up a lot of time in the spring and summer is weeding the various gardens that make up the Nursery, as well as pulling weeds from the plants in containers. Becky, the education intern who worked closely with Ely last year, would often lead groups of volunteers to the lower garden, the “metro vista” (the top of the hill above the nursery, with a great view of the city), or the “secret garden” to pull endless clumps of oxalis or non-native grasses. It sounds like a tedious task, but it is enjoyable together with other volunteers, especially when Becky and Ely teach us about the native plants whose homes we are enhancing.
Not all of the tasks at the Presidio Nursery involve working directly with plants and sometimes it is nice to do something different. “The Bucket Run” is always fun, a chance to travel around the Presidio with Jean Koch (Compost and Community Gardens Manager for the Presidio Trust), picking up buckets of coffee grounds from the Warming Hut and the café at the Crissy Field Center. We brought the big buckets of coffee grounds back to the compost pile at the Nursery and dumped them out, mixing in a little horse manure for “flavor.” Then, we stirred up the mixture with a pitchfork, watching the vapors of steam rise up from deep inside the rich compost pile.
Also, throughout the summer and fall, Nursery interns and volunteers conduct the important task of collecting and identifying mosquitoes, as a way of controlling the spread of West Nile disease. I went out into the field one day with Jamie, another one of the interns, who showed me how to assemble and hang a mosquito trap in some of the damp shady corners of the Presidio. Back at the Seed Lab, Jamie then gave me a quick lesson in identifying mosquitoes that had been collected from an earlier run. Christa Conforti (Integrated Pest Manager for the Presidio Trust) followed up the next week with an intensive lesson as we “keyed out” (identified) several batches of mosquitoes. This involves following a key to narrow the possibilities of what species of mosquito we are looking at under the microscope.
Though the spring and summer were brimming with activities around the nursery, there were also things to do in the winter. In the cold cloudy days of December, when the sun was low in the sky, we finished off the year by making holiday wreaths with Ely. Tables in the greenhouse were laid out with large piles of plant clippings, including Monterey pine, Monterey cypress, toyon, and a variety of flowering bushes. Each volunteer was given a small round metal frame and we picked out our own “ingredients” from the piles of plants, pinning them onto the frames with wire. This was a relaxing day, and a great way to make use of plant material that otherwise would have gone into the compost pile. It was also a nice way to say thank you to us volunteers, because we each got to take home our own creations for the holidays.
No matter the time of year or the activity, we finish up each day at the Presidio Nursery with a closing circle, a time when we get to brag about our accomplishments and pat each other on our sore backs. One of the biggest rewards for this work is to come back later and see the seeds that we have planted growing into plants, the seedlings that we have propagated getting moved into restoration projects in the field, and the friendships we have fostered turning into a community of citizens who strive to enhance and protect our beautiful national parks. A year has passed and the cycle begins anew!
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Alcatraz Night Tour, photo by Charlotte Fiorito
SCORE TICKETS TO THE ‘ROCK’ SHOW
Enter to win two spots for the Alcatraz Night Tour—the hottest ticket in the Golden Gate National Parks. Led by our knowledgeable docents, you’ll see secret spots and hear amazing stories that the day tours never get to experience. It’s an adventure not to be missed—and never to be forgotten.
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MARCH MADNESS: CRAZY ABOUT MUSHROOMS!
If you are ever walking around a restoration site in the park and notice a patch of straw (placed for compost and weed suppression)—stop and take a closer look. This straw layer creates an excellent micro environment for fungi! Fungi are hidden throughout most of our straw in the form of mycelia (white silky threads). We only really see fungi when the mycelia come together to form the fruiting body of fungi, aka mushrooms! After a rainy spell, mushrooms pop up out of the straw and open their caps to expose their gills and spores to the air.
Fairy mushrooms (Marasmius oreades), commonly found in the straw we lay down at restoration sites, make the classic “fairy rings” that have inspired many fairytales. In the first year this fungus devours the dead straw and produces a thick clump of mushrooms. In the second year, the underground mycelia creep outward in search of more food, each year producing bigger and bigger rings!
The wonderful mushrooms that you will find in our straw are mostly of a type called saprobe, which means that they survive by decomposing dead wood or grass. In fact, they are one of the few organisms that can break down complex molecular structures you will find in grass or wood, such as cellulose and lignin. Interestingly, fungus normally only decompose a specific type of molecule in wood or grass, so you will only find certain mushrooms growing on certain areas. Some mushrooms, in fact, only grow on other mushrooms!
Another great straw mushroom that is fairly uncommon is the smooth volvariella (Volvariella speciosa). This mushroom has an oval cap that is slimy when it comes up. This slime is produced by the mushroom to help it push up and out of the soil and straw to get to the surface. Once the mushroom surfaces, the slime quickly dries out.
While fungi are busy decomposing year round, it is only for a couple of months out of the year that we get to see mushrooms. It is then that we can really appreciate the beauty and diversity of these organisms across our parks. After the next rain go outside and look around. Enjoy all of the different types of mushrooms you see. Maybe you too will be spouting poetry like Walt Whitman’s “This Compost.”
By Walt Whitman
Something startles me where I thought I was safest,
I withdraw from the still woods I loved,
I will not go now on the pastures to walk,
I will not strip the clothes from my body to meet my lover the sea,
I will not touch my flesh to the earth as to other flesh to renew me.
O how can it be that the ground itself does not sicken?
How can you be alive you growths of spring?
How can you furnish health you blood of herbs, roots, orchards, grain?
Are they not continually putting distemper'd corpses within you?
Is not every continent work'd over and over with sour dead?
Where have you disposed of their carcasses?
Those drunkards and gluttons of so many generations?
Where have you drawn off all the foul liquid and meat?
I do not see any of it upon you to-day, or perhaps I am deceiv'd,
I will run a furrow with my plough, I will press my spade through
the sod and turn it up underneath,
I am sure I shall expose some of the foul meat.
Behold this compost! behold it well!
Perhaps every mite has once form'd part of a sick person--yet behold!
The grass of spring covers the prairies,
The bean bursts noiselessly through the mould in the garden,
The delicate spear of the onion pierces upward,
The apple-buds cluster together on the apple-branches,
The resurrection of the wheat appears with pale visage out of its graves,
The tinge awakes over the willow-tree and the mulberry-tree,
The he-birds carol mornings and evenings while the she-birds sit on
The young of poultry break through the hatch'd eggs,
The new-born of animals appear, the calf is dropt from the cow, the
colt from the mare,
Out of its little hill faithfully rise the potato's dark green leaves,
Out of its hill rises the yellow maize-stalk, the lilacs bloom in
The summer growth is innocent and disdainful above all those strata
of sour dead.
That the winds are really not infectious,
That this is no cheat, this transparent green-wash of the sea which
is so amorous after me,
That it is safe to allow it to lick my naked body all over with its tongues,
That it will not endanger me with the fevers that have deposited
themselves in it,
That all is clean forever and forever,
That the cool drink from the well tastes so good,
That blackberries are so flavorous and juicy,
That the fruits of the apple-orchard and the orange-orchard, that
melons, grapes, peaches, plums, will none of them poison me,
That when I recline on the grass I do not catch any disease,
Though probably every spear of grass rises out of what was once
Now I am terrified at the Earth, it is that calm and patient,
It grows such sweet things out of such corruptions,
It turns harmless and stainless on its axis, with such endless
successions of diseas'd corpses,
It distills such exquisite winds out of such infused fetor,
It renews with such unwitting looks its prodigal, annual, sumptuous crops,
It gives such divine materials to men, and accepts such leavings
from them at last.
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Bring your friends—and make new ones—when you join us for two Teens on Trails events in March! The Teens on Trails program brings together young people from high schools around the Bay Area who want to volunteer their time working on trails, enjoying beautiful national parks, and gaining school volunteer hours.
When you participate you’ll work with Parks Conservancy staff and National Park Service trail crew members to complete much-needed trail work in beautiful park locations. On a given day, you might rebuild a sand ladder and repair post-and-cable fencing at Fort Funston, form a bucket relay line on the Batteries to Bluffs trail in the Presidio, remove overgrown vegetation from Lands End trail corridors, or rehabilitate unauthorized trails at Mile Rock Beach. Just as importantly, you will reconnect with the Bay Area’s spectacular parklands and meet other teens who love trails and nature!
There are two Teens on Trails events in March and we need you to pitch in!
Friday, March 25, SF Unified Furlough Day
9:30 am–12:30 pm
Thursday, March 31, Cesar Chavez Day
9:30 am–12:30 pm
For locations, directions, registration information, and more details visit our website or e-mail email@example.com
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