environmental history

...now browsing by tag

 
 

Tidings from the Sunset Coast (4)

Tuesday, August 8th, 2017

An Ecological History of SERC-West’s California Home

By Ryan Greene

An aerial view of a cove with many buildings and a number of moored ships.

A naval net depot was one of the many institutions to occupy the site on the San Francisco Bay where the Romberg Tiburon Center for Environmental Studies now operates. Photo courtesy of the Tiburon Landmarks Society and Romberg Tiburon Center. [Cropped]

The Smithsonian Environmental Research Center’s (SERC) main West Coast outpost, SERC-West, is located in Tiburon, California, on San Francisco Bay. The entire stretch of North America separates SERC-West from SERC’s main campus on the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. To bridge this distance, we’ve launched “Tidings From the Sunset Coast,” a summer series about all things SERC-West. Our last post explored SERC’s research on invasive green crabs in Seadrift Lagoon. Our next post dives into the history of the site that SERC-West calls home. This blog post is nowhere close to comprehensive. Rather, we hope it can serve as something of a “highlight reel.”

The Romberg Tiburon Center for Environmental Studies (or Romberg Center for short) sits on a 36-acre parcel of waterfront land whose history is rather kaleidoscopic. Depending on when you were here, you could have found a cod packing plant, cables destined for the Golden Gate Bridge, or multi-mile antisubmarine nets. And this is just a smattering.

The Romberg Center is a research and teaching facility run by San Francisco State University. Nearly two decades ago, in 2000, SERC ecologist Greg Ruiz stationed part of his Marine Invasions Lab here. Since then, this outpost has become the hub of SERC’s West Coast ecological research. In addition to Smithsonian and San Francisco State biologists, the Romberg Center is also home to members of NOAA’s San Francisco Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. Together, these institutions use the historic site as a base for exploring the Bay’s ecology. This, though, is only the most recent in a long line of land uses. And looking more closely at what people have done here in the past can provide a glimpse into a host of ecological issues still shaping San Francisco today. Click to continue »

From the director: Earth Day and the next 40 years

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

SERC director Anson 'Tuck' Hines

Anson 'Tuck' Hines, director of the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center

This spring we celebrate the 40th Earth Day – an anniversary marking a journey of commitment for me and others at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center. For the first Earth Day in 1970, I was a new graduate student at University of California, Berkeley. Then as now, it was a raucous time with the country at war and intense focus on civil rights and the role of government.

The first Earth Day developed as a grassroots movement with teach-ins focused on the environment. I focused on a career in ecology, but Earth Day inspired my commitment to solutions for human impacts on the biosphere. In the ivory tower of Berkeley, applied research was then portrayed as a lower calling to “pure research.” But I was committed to merging fundamental ecology applied to human impacts, now a hallmark of SERC research.
Click to continue »