Through some research and through people sending me links, I've found a bunch of neat websites I wanted to share here, involving urban nature and watersheds. Check them out below the pretty picture of Lake Champlain.
were sent to me by the webmaster of the Save Mount Sutro blog. The above websites discuss some interesting urban nature found in different cities.
The Sutro blog is interesting as well. It describes a planted Eucalyptus forest in urban San Francisco. There have been proposals to cut down some of the non-native eucalyptus trees and plant native plants in their place. A bunch of local residents are opposed to this plan and say that the eucalyptus forest itself, which is over 100 years old, has developed its own complex ecology over time. I am a lover of native plants and preservation of native ecosystems, so in general I am in support of any plan to create habitat for native plants, especially in California where they are very under-appreciated and have lost so much ground. However, without community support for restoration, there isn't much chance that the restoration would succeed anyway. There is also question as to whether or not invasive plants in the middle of a city are even invasive, since they are occupying urban habitat, so the real question is whether or not they might disperse to wild areas. I admit a personal anti-eucalyptus bias, but at least the trees are not sucking up imported water - they seem to be able to get all the summer water they need from fog drip. If you are interested in this sort of thing, go visit the blog - they have been good about encouraging discussion about this issue, as is evident if you look at the comments (many of which are mine).
In any event, I am quite curious now and if I am out in San Francisco I will go look at the mountain and see what I think about it.
There is also a flickr group for posting photos of nature reclaiming or colonizing urban areas right here.
On a more water-related note, I returned home to Vermont and learned that the new building for our department, which had largely been a source of logistic headaches last year, comes equipped with a bioswale and a little constructed runoff channel! I'm going to post pictures of these soon, and perhaps try to find a way to get involved with them more directly too - maybe helping with maintenance or photodocumenting them in action. I'm also hoping to get involved with the Vermont Watershed Alliance if I can.
Update: another really neat runoff management resource from Sonoma County in California. Slow it! Sink it! Spread it! (It sounds like Slow Water - and really, it is!). The PDF file is huge but worth looking at. Of course, if you don't live in coastal California, things will be somewhat different but the general ideas still apply.
So much to learn and do! Of course, if anyone reading this has other links, send them my way also. I'll put them on the blog or in the links section.