Land Uses In and Around Bay Area Parks. Photo Credits: Jessica Weinberg, NPS.

The landscape of the San Francisco Bay Area is a record of human relationships with the natural environment. Native Americans including the Coast Miwok, and dozens of Tribes within what is referred to as Ohlone territory, lived on what are now Bay Area national park lands for over 10,000 years. The parks have also been the stomping grounds of Spanish and other European settlers, missionaries, ranchers, loggers, the US military, and the myriad of other people who have called this area home.

The National Park Service is mandated to preserve, protect, and manage biological resources to maintain ecosystem integrity, but ecological communities within our national parks are influenced by current land-use both inside and outside of park boundaries, as well as these historical human activities. Over the past 150 years or so, the disruption of ecological processes has been accelerated by increased human activity including development, conversion of grasslands and other habitats to agriculture, and large-scale fire suppression. By understanding the landscape dynamics within and around our parks, and the factors that drive these dynamics, we hope to be better able to predict changes and protect park resources. Additionally, working with descendants of the original communities that inhabited our parks provides valuable local knowledge and opportunities for cooperative resource management.