A day at the Presidio

November 19,2015 by Rebecca Wolvek

Our day began around 11 AM when we reached the Presidio. The first thing that stood out were the buildings which were reminders of their war era usage. Nothing like the stacked housing of San Francisco, these buildings were military quarters or hospitals, now used for housing as a way to bring in money to the Presidio and preserve it’s history. The Presidio became part of the Presidio Trust in the late 90’s in hopes of restoring and preserving the area. It is in the hands of a federal agency who’s main goal in being able to obtain the land was to be sustainable without tax-payer support. In 2013, the Presidio successfully became financially self sufficient, making it a publicly protected area. Now, the goals of the Presidio are those of archaeology, preservation, remediation, restoration, and drawing in the public.

photo credit: Rebecca Wolvek

One of the buildings on the Presidio now used as housing. Photo © R. Wolvek

After passing the main buildings, our guide, Jason Lizenby, the Biological Science Technician for Mountain Lake and part of the Presidio Land Trust, gave us a brief history of the surrounding areas of the Presidio and into the lake. He and Bryan Hildebidle talked about one of the first major restoration projects, the Crissy Marsh. We were able to see the differences in the land from photos provided by Mr. Hildebidle. It was amazing to see the difference! From there, it was onto the sand dune restoration site.

At the site we met up with Lew Stringer, a restoration ecologist for the Presidio Trust. The land had previously used as a grave site for those who had died during the war. Overtime, it became used as a landfill and waste and lead were dumped on top of the land. When the Presidio Trust got a hold of the land, their task was to decontaminate the land and restore it. When the project first started, there were four endangered plant species reintroduced, one of them being a small yellow flower and the other the San Francisco manzanita.

A few of the plant species found in the Presidio

A few of the plant species found in the Presidio. Photo © R. Wolvek

Finally, it was on to the main attraction, Mountain Lake. We were able to walk along the lake and see up close the fish barrier. This simple barrier was put up because of a major problem with invasive aquatic species. People would release domestic fish and turtles into the lake, thinking it was a more humane release. With the removal of unwanted species, such as red eared slider turtles, carp, and a species of crayfish to name a few, it was time to focus on reintroducing the more favorable species, these being Western Pond Turtles and Pacific Chorus Frog. Once the quality of the water was up to proper standards, the turtles that had been raised in captivity were ready to be released. Each turtle was equipped with a specially applied radio transmitter to its shell. These transmitters are used to detect where the turtles, even if underwater. We got to see these special turtles up close!

two beautiful turtles showing off their radio antennae

Two beautiful turtles showing off their radio antennae. Photo © R. Wolvek