The Natural and Cultural Legacy of Yerba Buena Island
To thousands of Bay Area residents, Yerba Buena Island means nothing more than the tunnel that connects the two spans of the Bay Bridge. But this little island is one of the Bay Area’s hidden treasures – a fascinating place with remarkable remnants of indigenous vegetation, resident and migratory wildlife, astounding views, and a complex cultural history.
Located only a mile and a half offshore of SF’s mainland, YBI is one of the Bay Area’s least known ecological secrets. Here we can find biological communities that include oak woodlands, riparian and coastal scrub, grasslands, and sandy beach. These habitats support a rich diversity of birds, butterflies and other wildlife.
The island’s human history begins with the First People, who used the island as a fishing camp and burial ground. Ownership, or claimed ownership, of this island-with-many-names passed from a multitude of private parties under Spanish and Mexican rule to the United States – at various times held by the Army, Navy and Coast Guard. The extant “torpedo factory,” lighthouse, and officers’ quarters on the National Register of Historic Places help keep the memories alive.
The speaker is Ruth Gravanis, long-time YBI watcher.
Space is limited.
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