Although that headline may seem contrived, it is in every way justified. Here in Berkeley, there is a gem of an aquatic park nestled between the city and the ginormous Interstate 80 rushing by a few hundred yards away. Without it, untold numbers of sea and inland birds would be at a loss for finding a resting spot during migration season.
After reading a recent report in the SF Chronicle, I was a little put off by the photography provided for the piece. So, these slides are my effort to set one thing straight. The Aquatic Park is not a lost cause. It is still, even with all the intrusions and waste, a vibrant natural resource. These pictures are a record of one person with a camera capturing images for approximately an hour Sunday morning. It is not difficult to find something worth saving here.
Unfortunately, this area is multi-use in the worst sense. It is a de facto storm water drainage, it becomes an open air sex playground at times, recreational drugs are found nearby, and it is a political stepchild with no funding to help it out of a jam. The City Council has a tough time finding cash to pave roads (as anyone who bikes through Berkeley knows). Budgeting to divert sewage and run-off is not only dependent on empathy for migratory fowl. Local kite boarders and sailors nearby would also benefit from fewer biohazard exposures.
Enlightened self-interest may help, since the number of joggers, walkers, strollers, and other fair weather sightseers is not insignificant at this lovely park on sunny days. Cleaning up the neighborhood seems to be happening as more families are moving in. With a victory against ballot measure T last year, it looks likely that skyscrapers are unlikely to cast a shadow or concrete to fill in the remaining grass lands anytime soon.
Those of you who live near a green space probably enjoy the benefits of getting outdoors and closer to nature from time-to-time. The options for most urban dwellers are dwindling, and in many ways getting fresh air or water is even more difficult in some rural farming communities.
There was a contentious hearing at a local meeting recently, and it looks like we will be voting on funding for the watershed protection measure in November. Here is an excerpt from the coverage at the Daily Californian.
The council voted 6-3 — with Councilmembers Kriss Worthington and Jesse Arreguin voting no and Max Anderson abstaining — to amend the ballot language to mention the cleanup of “the creeks and bay,” after much deliberation over mentioning the specific proposal to clean up Berkeley Aquatic Park.
The hope for additional government funding doesn’t seem like it is enough to me. So, I will donate any money collected from the sale of prints of photos in the slide show above to the Sierra Club to help with the fight to save this habitat, and many other green spaces. You can follow this link to the RedBubble collection – Save the Aquatic Park – if you would like to help out in this way, or if you just happen to like pictures of really cool birds.
RB sources regional printing and framing near you even though they are based in Australia. The price for any size print will include their base cost for production plus 40%, which I will forward to the Sierra Club headquarters a few blocks from here. If anyone contributes, I will post updates on the amount donated.
You can read about the local conservation efforts here. If it doesn’t work out, I am pretty sure the cat that lives next door to the park will be happy when these birds have no choice but to start landing in his yard. No pressure.