An example of an organization that cultivates its public well by engaging citizens in ecological restoration projects, is the Presidio in San Francisco, California. A former military base, the Presidio is one unit of the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, which stretches 70 miles north and south of the Golden Gate Bridge and is composed of over 80,000 acres of federally protected parklands such as Alcatraz, Muir Woods, the Marin Headlands, Mount Tamalpais, and Point Reyes National Seashore. Protected natural features are redwoods, shorelines, and rare and endangered species. At the Presidio itself, more than 1,400 acres of land has been saved as national parkland. Of that, over 100 acres of shoreline park have been created at Crissy Field.
The Presidio has the dual mission of protecting natural resources and providing for public enjoyment. It has creatively found ways to do both. For example, a tidal marsh restoration project in the shadow of the Golden Gate Bridge at the Presidio relies upon attractive sturdy fencing, gateway portals, and informational signs to protect the site, keep beach access open, and tell visitors of restoration projects.
The Presidio has a well-developed volunteer program that provides a multitude of opportunities for people and volunteer groups. Volunteer activities include habitat restoration and monitoring, developing native plant nurseries, landscape maintenance, historic site restoration, trail maintenance, and beach cleanups. All this work is done under the auspices of the Golden Gate National Parks Stewardship Program. Begun in 1993, this program was created to bring people together to protect and restore ecologically sensitive areas. It is operated with the assistance of its nonprofit fundraising partner, the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy. Volunteers find opportunities for restoring four high-priority park sites, all of which support endangered species, at: Milagra Ridge, Mori Point, Oakwood Valley, and Wolfback Ridge.
The Presidio’s large numbers of volunteers also have developed, written, and illustrated a new educational curriculum as well as interpretive pamphlets, flyers, and signs.
In addition to restoration ecology projects, the Presidio’s Crissy Field Center hosts events year-round for family and children. For example, the Urban Ecology Educator program gives kids the rare chance to wade through the marsh, collect samples, and check them in the lab. What kid wouldn’t love to do that?