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The Great Outdoors Issue

Our unshakable, unbreakable bonds with the natural world.

Emerald hills punctuate Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve, part of the 120,000 acres of open space overseen by the East Bay Regional Park District.


We embrace it. We exploit it. We combat it. We fight one another over it. We try to save it. Sometimes we try to save it by killing it. This month, we celebrate our fabulously rich, ever-evolving, always complicated relationship with the out of doors.

Season of the Switch
The good news: After five years of historic drought, California is awash in water again. The bad news: Schizophrenic weather is going to be our new normal.
By Gary Kamiya

The Urchin Sucker
In Fort Bragg, one obsessed diver is trying to save the kelp forests by hoovering up purple urchins—one at a time.
By Scott Lucas

Think Tank: Kim Chambers
In advance of her long-distance swim from the United States to Mexico, the endurance athlete talks about swimming as a uniting force.
By Bonnie Tsui

Where the Wild Kids Are
Out in the East Bay woods, a group of hardcore “re-wilders” teaches the original STEM curriculum.
By Jessica Carew Kraft

How to Make the Great Highway Great Again
New designs for an old, sandy, crumbling-into-the-sea roadway.
By Lamar Anderson

Wide Open Spaces
A new BAMPFA exhibit explores college the middle of nowhere.
By Ian A. Stewart

Ready, Get Set, Forage!
Three florists have one morning to assemble the most arresting wild bouquet imaginable. May the best picker win.
By Erin Feher

The Controversial Cabin
When one of the Bay Area’s most renowned architects faces off with the California Coastal Commission, a simple renovation quickly gets complicated.
By Erin Feher

Will the KQED Disaster Pack Save Your Butt?
Public radio supporters are infatuated with those emergency preparedness kits. But what exactly are they preparing you for?
By Andrew Tower

Showdown at the Edge of the Continent
Environmentalists, ranchers, hikers, tule elk, and red-legged frogs fight for a permanent place in Point Reyes National Seashore.
By Laura Fraser

Eating REI
What happens when a big-city restaurant critic drops the sterling silverware and picks up a camping spork?
By Josh Sens

Foraging with Funk
A visit to the 1,400-acre estate of Alicia Funk, the wild-food evangelist of the Sierra Nevada.
By Julia Scheeres

Farm to Fallacy
Deep down, every chef secretly wants to be a farmer. But when they actually act on that desire, reality bites—hard.
By Rebecca Flint Marx

That’s how many acres of open space exist in the Bay Area. Meet the land grabbers behind the country’s most comprehensive conservation effort.
By Patrick Hoge

The Young Woman and the Sea
Extreme athlete Lia Ditton is getting ready to row a boat from Japan to San Francisco. Alone. Is she crazy, or what?
By Diana Kapp

This Is Your National Forest on Drugs
Illegal marijuana grows are causing a litany of tiny toxic disasters on public lands.
By Julian Smith/BioGraphic

Where’s Peanut?
A five-pound dog goes missing on a camping trip in the most unforgiving desert in the country. Suddenly, the race against Mother Nature is on.
By Graham Hacia

San Francisco in 77,000 Steps
In which an overconfident walker attempts to hike 33 miles around the perimeter of the City by the Bay.
By Andy Wright

The Soaking Saga
A late-blooming hedonist’s voyage among some of California’s best-loved hot springs.
By Brandon R. Reynolds

Our Trees, Ourselves
Learning to love, live with, and let go of San Francisco’s urban forest: a progression in three parts.

      If 500,000 Trees Fall in a Forest...
      How the Presidio is dealing with a mass die-off of its wildly excessive 19th-century plantings.
      By Joe Eskenazi

      Higher Education
      Why I’m trying to learn the name of every tree species in San Francisco.
      By Lynn Rapoport

      After a decades-long fight, the city has given the green light to start cutting down eucalyptus trees in
      natural areas. But the trees’ defenders are standing tall.
      By Walter Thompson

Affinities: Rock Rats
A visit to Yosemite’s Camp 4, hallowed ground for rock climbers, who have been flocking here for decades to do battle with the park’s baddest boulders.
By Erin Feher 

Originally published in the May issue of
San Francisco 

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