Brisbane embraces Earth Day

Publisher: San Francisco Examiner
Reporter: Sabrina Crawford

BRISBANE -- Swaying on the hillside, the extended brushy arms of French broom plant blanket San Bruno Mountain. But though the exotic plant, with its petite yellow blossoms, is deceptively lovely in spring, local environmentalists say it's the No. 1 threat to the diverse natural habitat and, therefore, to the flutter of the endangered mission blue and silverspot butterflies that call the mountain's airy hilltop home.

"Invasive plants are second only to outright physical destruction when it comes to the loss of habitat," said Philip Batchelder, San Bruno Mountain watch program manager. "That is just starting to be grasped by policy makers, and greater public awareness and caring for the environment and other species is growing."

With that in mind, the city of Brisbane, which owns more than 20-acres of the hillside as protected public open space, is honoring Earth Day by sponsoring the first-ever San Bruno Mountain Habitat Restoration Day this Saturday.

On April 24, local environmental protection and education groups, residents and city officials are coordinating an eco-friendly afternoon of mountain air, environmental education and hands-on native plant restoration.

"The City of Brisbane has to date purchased over 20 acres of undeveloped land on San Bruno Mountain, using grant funds that restrict the use of the land to open space," said Brisbane Mayor Michael Barnes, in a flyer urging his fellow residents to dig in, volunteer and help restore harmony to their natural surroundings. "Now, the city needs to manage this land so that the community is protected from fire danger and indigenous species are protected from extinction."

To celebrate the 34th anniversary of Earth Day, the city is joining together with local groups like the San Bruno Mountain Watch, the Friends of San Bruno Mountain and the Native Plant Society, to rally residents to help tackle aggressive invaders like French broom and fennel, to keep those acres in pristine condition.

The last fragment of what was once the Franciscan Region ecosystem, San Bruno Mountain is one of the largest urban open spaces in the United States with 3,300 acres undeveloped, according to San Bruno Mountain Watch.

Local environmentalists say they hope Saturday's event will better inform the community about the mountain's native habitat and spark ongoing interest in community-minded restoration.

Call 415-508-2118 for more information.
Copyright 2004 San Francisco Examiner