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Biosphere Reserve Information - General Description

Golden Gate

General DescriptionThe Farallon Islands, which consist of 6 main islands and dozens of islets and rock, provide habitat for 12 species of breeding seabirds, and breeding or haul-out areas for 5 species of pinnipeds. South Farallon Island (pictured)greens up in January 2004 after winter rains germinate the native, endemic annual plant: Lasthenia maritima, used as nesting material by Brandt's cormorants and other seabirds. Photo credit: Carolyn Lown.


The Golden Gate Biosphere Reserve is a partnership of 13 protected areas in the greater San Francisco Bay area. It extends through the central California coastal region from the Bodega Marine Lab and Reserve in the north to Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve in the south and includes the Farallon Islands, Angel Island and Alcatraz within the San Francisco Bay. The biosphere reserve is situated on both sides of the San Andreas Fault. Each side has a completely different type of bedrock and the western side of the rift is moving northward.
Habitats in the biosphere reserve are diverse and include mixed evergreen forests, redwood forests, Douglas fir forests, Bishop pine forests, oak forests, woodlands and savannas, coastal scrub, chaparral, coastal dune, coastal strand, tidepools, kelp forests, grasslands and marshes.
The associated fauna is also rich with cougars, Tule elk, California sea lions, elephant seals and many shorebirds.
The Golden Gate Biosphere Reserve is unique in that it spans marine, coastal, and upland resources adjacent to a major metropolitan area, and thus provides easy access to outdoor education and recreation for the inhabitants of the San Francisco Bay metropolitan area. The area supports many recreational activities such as sport fisheries, hiking, bicycling and whale watching.
The biosphere reserve is organized under an association with three councils, which are responsible for management, science and education projects. For instance, members cooperate on tidal pool monitoring and public education in the area of Mt. Tamalpais State Park. Another joint activity is the Coho salmon restoration project which requires habitat inventorying and mapping of several critical watersheds. The biosphere reserve also cooperates with the Iroise Biosphere Reserve (France) in a comparison of coastal ecosystem recovery after human use changes. Research covers topics such as the management of commercially important resources (e.g. fisheries), threats to ecosystems (e.g. oil spills, pollutants, and invasive species) and episodic events (e.g. fires and climate extremes).


Mt. Tamalpais is the highest point within GGBR, at a whopping 2,500 feet. Most of the peak is owned by Marin Municipal Water District as well as some ownership by State Parks.




















Last updated: 08/11/2005

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