Category Archives: Bolinas

Bolinas and Dogtown

 

BOLINAS

 

Seaside Bolinas is the oldest town in Coastal Marin. It is famously an eccentric and tolerant town with a community that includes descendants of early Bolinas families, artists and writers, biologists, high tech innovators, social and environmental activists, renowned organic food producers and more.

The turn-off to Bolinas from Highway One is at the head of the Bolinas Lagoon, keeping the lagoon on your left. Parking in town is problematic and the dead end main street makes turning around difficult. Alternatively arriving by the West Marin Stage public transportation can free you and townspeople from parking frustration. Or add to your adventure by turning right on Mesa Road, parking in the roomy gravel lot by the fire station, then stroll across the road to a pleasant downhill path through a eucalyptus grove. The town is dog friendly but please bring only well-socialized dogs to Bolinas. No camping or fires are allowed on the beach. Residents ask visitors to be thoughtful and respect their community, beaches and environment.

The town’s history stretches back to Native Americans followed by Spanish Californios, both settled on the sunny flatland by today’s schoolhouse. The Gold Rush brought logging, ranching and an economy dependent on maritime transportation until the 1930s. From 1914-1990s Marconi / RCA made global communication history here. Besides a literary Renaissance, the 1970s were pivotal for community commitment to preserve small town Bolinas and its wildlife-rich environment. Most of downtown was built between 1850 and 1920. The Schooner Saloon (Smiley’s) dates back to the early days of logging, and Bolinas Market has changed little since reopening after the 1906 earthquake. Next to the historic blacksmith shop/garage is Bo-Gas, one of only two gas stations in Coastal Marin. It is open 24/7 by credit card and sales contribute to Bolinas Land Trust, a non-profit providing affordable housing. Public restrooms are located in the downtown park and another by the tennis court.

In addition to savoring nature, hiking or the small beach, Bolinas offers an honor-system bookstore and farm stand, a hardware store with unusual gifts, second-hand stores, world-source gifts, a library, a few B&Bs and a few motel rooms 
at the saloon. For eating, emphasis here is on delicious locally harvested food. There are sandwiches at natural foods Bolinas People’s Store and Bolinas Market, sit down at Coast Café, and interesting new food venues are opening. Don’t miss the wildlife artist’s gallery, changing shows at the rentable Bolinas Gallery and the outstanding Bolinas Museum of fine art and local history.

The community center has a
 busy schedule of classes and events, Commonweal’s New School offers stimulating public talks and the Maritime Radio Historical Society offers RCA radio station tours by appointment. There are surfboard rentals, surfing lessons and supplies. In the historic barn, next to Bolinas Museum, The Surf Shop sells comfortable clothes now, but the owner, Buzz, was the founder of the very first surf shop (including building surfboards) between the Golden Gate Bridge and Canada.

There is no highway sign and the town has a reputation for discouraging visitors, but if you find your way here, you will find the community is friendly, interesting and full of independent-minded creative people.

Courtesy of Elia Haworth, Curator of Coastal Marin Art & History, Bolinas Museum

 

Dogtown – the first Bolinas

Just north of the Bolinas turn off is the little settlement of Dogtown. This was the original Bolinas and entry to Rancho Las Baulines (established about 1834) whose boundaries defined the township until 1916. The lagoon side town’s location today was just called “The Point”, the place where schooners were loaded with lumber, dairy, farm products and people to transport to San Francisco.

The Gold Rush brought thousands
of immigrants into the tiny San Francisco and created an insatiable need for lumber to build a city. In 1850 hundreds
of men descended on Rancho Baulines to fell the primeval redwood forests and turn the ancient oaks and pines into firewood. Sawmills were built and the rowdy community of Baulines sprang up. Yankees simplified the spelling to Bolinas. In 1865, newspaper editor Ai Barney visited Bolinas and described it as “quite a settlement, and is known under the cogomen of “Dogtown”– being so called, we presume, from the immense number of canines which infest the place”. Dogs were for hunting bear and deer. He described it’s wagon-its businesses and five or six houses. A few of those buildings remain today including the first Bolinas schoolhouse. Three copper mines opened nearby and Bolinas was briefly renamed Copper Town, but mining failed. Eventually busy commerce at The Point drew the township of Bolinas.

The name Dogtown-Bolinas stuck for the settlement, much to the frustration of resident men who believed the name Dogtown hindered attracting marriageable women. On December 31, 1868, a town meeting was held, “to deliberate on the expediency of the proposition to make sausage of all the dogs and chose a more virtuous, modest and sweet-scented word of a warbling sound as a name more suitable for our thrifty town of decent inhabitants.” Dogtown-Bolinas became “Woodville.”

Woodville faded into a neighborhood of fewer residents and locals continued to call it Dogtown for over 100 years. Finally a local resident petitioned the Board of Supervisors of Marin County to restore the name. By unanimous resolution in April, 1976–it officially became Dogtown.

Courtesy of the Bolinas Museum

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BOLINAS

 

Seaside Bolinas is the oldest town in Coastal Marin. It is famously an eccentric and tolerant town with a community that includes descendants of early Bolinas families, artists and writers, biologists, high tech innovators, social and environmental activists, renowned organic food producers and more.

The turn-off to Bolinas from Highway One is at the head of the Bolinas Lagoon, keeping the lagoon on your left. Parking in town is problematic and the dead end main street makes turning around difficult. Alternatively arriving by the West Marin Stage public transportation can free you and townspeople from parking frustration. Or add to your adventure by turning right on Mesa Road, parking in the roomy gravel lot by the fire station, then stroll across the road to a pleasant downhill path through a eucalyptus grove. The town is dog friendly but please bring only well-socialized dogs to Bolinas. No camping or fires are allowed on the beach. Residents ask visitors to be thoughtful and respect their community, beaches and environment.

The town’s history stretches back to Native Americans followed by Spanish Californios, both settled on the sunny flatland by today’s schoolhouse. The Gold Rush brought logging, ranching and an economy dependent on maritime transportation until the 1930s. From 1914-1990s Marconi / RCA made global communication history here. Besides a literary Renaissance, the 1970s were pivotal for community commitment to preserve small town Bolinas and its wildlife-rich environment. Most of downtown was built between 1850 and 1920. The Schooner Saloon (Smiley’s) dates back to the early days of logging, and Bolinas Market has changed little since reopening after the 1906 earthquake. Next to the historic blacksmith shop/garage is Bo-Gas, one of only two gas stations in Coastal Marin. It is open 24/7 by credit card and sales contribute to Bolinas Land Trust, a non-profit providing affordable housing. Public restrooms are located in the downtown park and another by the tennis court.

In addition to savoring nature, hiking or the small beach, Bolinas offers an honor-system bookstore and farm stand, a hardware store with unusual gifts, second-hand stores, world-source gifts, a library, a few B&Bs and a few motel rooms 
at the saloon. For eating, emphasis here is on delicious locally harvested food. There are sandwiches at natural foods Bolinas People’s Store and Bolinas Market, sit down at Coast Café, and interesting new food venues are opening. Don’t miss the wildlife artist’s gallery, changing shows at the rentable Bolinas Gallery and the outstanding Bolinas Museum of fine art and local history.

The community center has a
 busy schedule of classes and events, Commonweal’s New School offers stimulating public talks and the Maritime Radio Historical Society offers RCA radio station tours by appointment. There are surfboard rentals, surfing lessons and supplies. In the historic barn, next to Bolinas Museum, The Surf Shop sells comfortable clothes now, but the owner, Buzz, was the founder of the very first surf shop (including building surfboards) between the Golden Gate Bridge and Canada.

There is no highway sign and the town has a reputation for discouraging visitors, but if you find your way here, you will find the community is friendly, interesting and full of independent-minded creative people.

Courtesy of Elia Haworth, Curator of Coastal Marin Art & History, Bolinas Museum

 

Dogtown – the first Bolinas

Just north of the Bolinas turn off is the little settlement of Dogtown. This was the original Bolinas and entry to Rancho Las Baulines (established about 1834) whose boundaries defined the township until 1916. The lagoon side town’s location today was just called “The Point”, the place where schooners were loaded with lumber, dairy, farm products and people to transport to San Francisco.

The Gold Rush brought thousands
of immigrants into the tiny San Francisco and created an insatiable need for lumber to build a city. In 1850 hundreds
of men descended on Rancho Baulines to fell the primeval redwood forests and turn the ancient oaks and pines into firewood. Sawmills were built and the rowdy community of Baulines sprang up. Yankees simplified the spelling to Bolinas. In 1865, newspaper editor Ai Barney visited Bolinas and described it as “quite a settlement, and is known under the cogomen of “Dogtown”– being so called, we presume, from the immense number of canines which infest the place”. Dogs were for hunting bear and deer. He described it’s wagon-its businesses and five or six houses. A few of those buildings remain today including the first Bolinas schoolhouse. Three copper mines opened nearby and Bolinas was briefly renamed Copper Town, but mining failed. Eventually busy commerce at The Point drew the township of Bolinas.

The name Dogtown-Bolinas stuck for the settlement, much to the frustration of resident men who believed the name Dogtown hindered attracting marriageable women. On December 31, 1868, a town meeting was held, “to deliberate on the expediency of the proposition to make sausage of all the dogs and chose a more virtuous, modest and sweet-scented word of a warbling sound as a name more suitable for our thrifty town of decent inhabitants.” Dogtown-Bolinas became “Woodville.”

Woodville faded into a neighborhood of fewer residents and locals continued to call it Dogtown for over 100 years. Finally a local resident petitioned the Board of Supervisors of Marin County to restore the name. By unanimous resolution in April, 1976–it officially became Dogtown.

Courtesy of the Bolinas Museum

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bolinas Lagoon

Bolinas Lagoon is the core of local human history, it is home to billions of organisms from microscopic to harbor seals, and an essential resource to countless generations of migrating birds. But before the arrival of Russians hunters, and Europeans and Yankee settlers, almost unimaginable numbers of animals, insects, birds and fish inhabited this primeval landscape. Native Americans lived at Bolinas for perhaps 2000 years, as equal members of a complex web of life centered around the lagoon.

Bolinas Lagoon is created by San Andreas Fault, the seam between continental North America and the geologic island of Point Reyes Peninsula. It is a remarkable confluence of unobstructed watershed, fertile land and the upwelling-enriched Pacific Ocean. Occasional earthquakes and the scouring of a robust tidal prism kept this lagoon/estuary vibrant for some 7000 years. Yet, in less than 180 years, since the introduction of agriculture and livestock about 1834, followed by logging, humans have radically impacted the lagoon’s health.

By 1852 human-caused erosion allowed winter rains to wash heavy loads of sediment into the lagoon, and began affecting boat traffic and the lagoon’s natural system. Since the 1870s, landfill for building and repairing a tide-resistant road around the lagoon, housing development, non-native plants, garbage dumps, pollution, and loss of habitat have further exacerbated the problems.

Marin County’s vigorous environmental preservation movement began in the 1930s. When a yacht harbor with hotels and casinos was proposed for the Lagoon in the 1960s, public activism saved it. Since then, concerned citizens and scientists have been intensely searching for how we can help the health of this important and complex ecosystem.

 

In the 1980s, citizen groups like Bolinas Lagoon Technical Advisory committee, the Bolinas Lagoon Foundation and its ad hoc Committee to Save Bolinas Lagoon, caught the attention of national and international entities that began to recognize its importance. In 1997 the lagoon was designated a State and National Treasure, and in 1998 it was recognized by the Ramsar Convention as a wetland of international importance.

 

These designations brought long awaited federal support from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers who studied the lagoon, and in 2002 released a draft study proposing removal of 1.4 million ft³ of sediment. Alarmed by the impacts dredging would cause to established habitat, and opposition to what many saw as a short-term fix, public outcry spawned a Marin County review of the study and a new process for developing science-based community supported initiatives to restore and manage the lagoon.

 

In 2008 the Locally Preferred Plan was released and today guides Marin County and its partners toward multi-beneficial efforts that encourage natural recovery from human-caused impacts, and facilitates adaptation to future changes. Climate change threatens impact from increased storms, flooding and erosion, so projects that instill resilience are crucial.

 

Today several initiatives from the Locally Preferred Plan are actively addressing invasive species removal, sediment and water movement, flooding, and water quality among other issues. Projects like the Kent Island Restoration Project, and the European Green Crab Removal Project implemented by local volunteers and school groups, embody the importance of human action, not just to remedy impacts but to prevent them. Other projects like the upcoming North End Restoration Project involving road redesign and enhanced wetland habitat will provide ecological benefits, sea level rise adaptation measures, and improve transportation and public safety.

 

Although the lagoon will never return to the ecological oasis it once was, residents are establishing stewardship of the environment they call home. Humans are partnering with nature and are committed to removing obstacles from the natural system that will contribute to aid the Bolinas Lagoon’s healthy future.

 

Article co-authored by

Kate Bimrose

Resource Protection Specialist, Bolinas Lagoon

Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary

 

and

 

Elia Haworth

Curator of Coastal Marin Art & History

Bolinas Museum

 

Keith Hansen-Wildlife Artist, Bolinas

BirdsOfSierraDShansen1

http://keithhansen.com

Call Now to Order! : 415-868-0402

I am a wildlife artist who specializes in the inspirational and accurate portrayal of birds. I was raised in a family of artists and lovers of all things natural. This combination of creativity and care for our natural world has hopefully become manifest in my works and images. If you are interested in learning more about how I first got inspired to look at and then begin illustrating birds, go to my website.

Please feel free to stop by the gallery for current art projects, images, prints, and more. Available on the site you will find limited edition, numbered and signed giclee prints from Birds of the Sierra authored by Edward Pandolfino and Edward Beedy.  You are welcome to visit the gallery in Bolinas.

Keith Hansen of Bolinas publishes new book

KeithHansen_InStudio

Keith Hansen and his Bolinas Wildlife Gallery and Studio
By Charles Post

Sixteen years and 1,400 paintings later, Keith Hansen has once again garnished and expanded our visual exploration and reference of avian ecology, a feat of epic proportions, one that truly captures the beauty of 320 bird species, all of whom call our beloved Sierra Nevada home. This comprehensive text, titled “Birds of the Sierra Nevada: Their Natural History, Status and Distribution”, authored by Ted Beedy and Ed Pandolfino, will surely become a hallmark for decades to come – a true masterpiece and gift to naturalists and birders from across the globe.

Keith Hansen has long used his artistic prowess to capture the innate, aesthetic subtleties and showy qualities of avifauna from Marin to Mexico and beyond. His card-carrying zeal for birds stems way back to a fateful encounter with an ornate cedar waxwing in Maryland’s broad-leafed forests, a formative moment which propelled Keith on a trajectory that would prove to bisect and intermingle with habitats, landscapes and wildlife research stations from the Galapagos to the Farallon Islands – the latter of which is a series of islets whose jagged crests rise from the Pacific some 30 miles outside the Golden Gate; these islands, and the North American mainland that dominates it’s easterly views, would prove to be a focal point of Keith’s love-affair with the birds of California.

It may even be fair to say that the Farallon Islands are to blame for that initial tug which would inspire Keith to begin laying roots here in Bolinas. One day in particular stands out; when Keith was only in 10th grade he first stepped foot onto those craggy, windswept islands, becoming the youngest Point Reyes Bird Observatory intern ever to work on the Farallons up to that point, a day which marked the first of over 150 more, which Keith continued to spend studying and becoming familiar with the ebb and flow of avian migrants that perennially imbue our skies, creeks, coastlines, marshes, forests and grasslands with splashes of radiance and feverish chatter. This initial attraction to northern California, and specifically the Farallon Islands and West Marin, would, in 1986, land him in Bolinas, and five years later, in 1991, the Bolinas Wildlife Gallery & Studio opened it’s doors.

Today, the Bolinas Wildlife Gallery and Studio has become a destination and hub. With a near steady stream of serendipitous, seasoned and studious visitors, paired with Keith’s hospitality and gregarious, genial nature, it’s not uncommon for this cozy studio to burst at the seams with eager eyes gazing across the avian adorned walls, tables and shelves. Once you’ve entered the portal, and the well-used, white door closes behind you, soon-to-be and self-proclaimed bird lovers find themselves immersed in a world that celebrates and reveres birds, their peculiarities, unique plumage, curious bills, and their fellow Aves whom together represent beloved bird communities from across the globe.

And it’s no coincidence that Bolinas became Keith’s hometown; Bolinas and the greater Point Reyes peninsula is widely known as a hub for birds in and of itself. Remarkably, more bird species have been found in the Point Reyes eco-region than 44 of the 50 states in America; that is, only 6 state’s entire bird list is greater in terms of species richness than that of Point Reyes – which encompasses Bolinas – and data suggests that’s over 500 species! Furthermore, the number of species visually identified from the Bolinas Wildlife Gallery and Studio alone, which currently stands at 225 species, represents 22.5 percent of all the bird species in North America, and holds the title as the most birds identified from any single room on the continent. Just to put that incredible statistic into a global context, Keith recently returned from a lodge situated in a pristine, southern Costa Rican rainforest, with a “Lodge List” (i.e., number of bird species identified from the lodge itself), which topped out at 245 species – and that’s in Costa Rica!

So, it’s clear that we West Marin folk are a lucky bunch, living amongst one of the world’s most unique and rich ecosystems, and just a short drive from Keith Hansen’s Bolinas Wildlife Gallery and Studio. With Keith’s sixteen year, mammoth contribution to the “Birds of the Sierra Nevada: Their Natural History, Status and Distribution,” you may ask what could Keith be up to next? Well, a “Field Guide To The Birds Of The Sierra Nevada” of course! Keith’s back at it, embarking on a scholastic and artistic endeavor which will certainly prove to be epic in it’s contribution to our hikes and adventures in those luminous mountains, John Muir’s beloved “Range of Light”. And thankfully, Keith doesn’t plan to leave us, or Bolinas any time soon. With smiling eyes, Keith proclaimed: “the longer I live here, the more I realize how unique this place is. What makes Bolinas special is just that it’s so unique, the fact that it’s nestled in this crossroads – if you will – literally on the san Andréa’s fault, riding piggyback between the pacific plate and the continental plate, and just the confluence of so many different types of habitat: the oceanic, the coastal, coastal rock, coastal sand, the lagoon, the mudflats, all of the tidal marsh, the forest, the alder & willow river habitat, the freshwater marsh, the Bolinas sewage ponds, all of these different habitats… that all converge on one small area that really makes Bolinas quite an amazing allure for anybody who’s interested in nature and especially birds. But then socially, morally, ethically, the town is my style, and I just love it here, and love the people and the creativity that flows through the town. And I think it’s probably what everybody else likes about it, it’s surrounded and shrouded with beauty…[where you] can breathe freely.”

If you’re interested in visiting Keith or the Bolinas Wildlife Gallery and Studio, you’ll find him at 48 Wharf Road, adjacent to the Bolinas Museum.

 

 

Tide Pool Etiquette at Duxbury Reef

 

Duxbury Reef, located at the edge of the Bolinas headland as the largest shale reef in North America. This reef and its surrounding waters are home to billions of creatures from the microscopic to harbor seals, sharks and visiting whales–in an ecosystem of truly astonishing complexity. Our human experience of the reef is enriched if we know how to respect and protect this ecosystem while learning about its fascinating inhabitants. On Saturday October 25, the Bolinas Museum presents Ocean Wonders: Sea & Sunset tour, (by reservation) a tide pool etiquette walk with Bruce Bowser, who serves on the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary (GFNMS) Advisory Council and is a trained reef docent for the GFNMS and the California Academy of Sciences’ Rocky Shore Partnership.

The Gold Rush era ship Duxbury left its name on the reef after briefly running aground, but the three miles of rough reef rock has been the scene of many shipwrecks. The reef’s shale is sturdy enough to withstand the powerful ocean, yet soft enough for such organisms as sea urchins, chitons and rock boring clams to make countless niches for themselves and others. Reef inhabitants evolved ingenious adaptations for withstanding the intense challenge of living in a fierce environment of pounding waves and inundation by seawater alternating with exposure at low tide to drying sun and wind and to predators. They must also adjust salt content in their bodies, have very specific feeding and protective techniques and now face warming water temperatures. Add to these challenges the incursion of humans.

Generations of visitors to the reef have trampled reef life and carried off countless buckets of animals–from Bay area families foraging snails, abalone, crab, clams, mussels and seaweed for food and scientists over-collecting, to casual visitors or bus loads of school children. Toxins from shipwrecks, land run off and chemicals are another threat.
All have unintended but devastating effects on the fragile balance of this ecosystem.

Conservation of Duxbury Reef was instigated by Gordon Chan, a marine biology professor at College of Marin, who intensely studied the reef in the 1960s. Alarmed by his findings, he compiled irrefutable scientific evidence that the health of this reef depended on it being protected. Chan’s leadership resulted in Marin County creating Duxbury Reef State Marine Reserve in 1971. Yet it took decades more to protect the reef as it is today– under firm state and federal regulations, with Marin County Parks jurisdiction of the upland area.

Over several decades Gordon Chan, fellow marine biology professor Al Molina and former County Naturalist Bob Stewart were instrumental in educating and inspiring thousands of students and the public to value the reef. That legacy is carried on today
by educators like Professor Joe Mueller at College of Marin, and dedicated conservation organizations with members like Bruce Bowser who work to protect the reef through monitoring and education.

Bowser’s lifelong passion for ocean advocacy led him to the GFNMS Advisory Council in 2006, where he also chaired the working group that developed the Bolinas Lagoon Ecosystem Restoration Project. Bowser has dedicated much of his adult life to grassroots and environmental non-profit work. He is semi retired as an international commercial interior and graphic design professional. He and his wife Marlie de Swart moved to Bolinas in 1992. Bowser’s deep commitment to preservation and his joy in sharing the wonder of Duxbury Reef are contagious. Tour space is limited so please make your reservation now by calling (415) 868-0330. $20 general / $15 Bolinas Museum members. For more information visit bolinasmuseum.org. This event is part of the Ocean: Wonders & Wellness exhibitions and programming at Bolinas Museum where admission to the Museum is always free.