I grew up in the East Bay (Richmond-El Cerrito-Kensington area), California, always curious about the natural world and the history and complex interactions of native plant communities, wildlife, and human society. I credit Malcolm Margolin's amazing book, The Ohlone Way, for sparking my curiosity and interest in learning more about the past of the Bay Area where I grew up--what hidden history was I not being taught in school? (Which was centered on the history of the Missions at that time.)
A whole new world opened up to me as an active and curious girl interested in exploring outside, and hiking into the natural world. I was also interested in understanding diverse people and cultures who inhabit the landscape where I lived. Malcolm's seminal work awakened me to the diversity of peoples who helped shape this landscape.
I have a Bachelor's degree in Paleontology from the University of California, Berkeley (1990), and graduate study in Natural Science Illustration from the U. C. Santa Cruz (1991). From there I undertook extensive field work in wildlife and fishery biology, all the while collecting research for my book, A State of Change: Forgotten Landscapes of California (Heyday with Malcolm Margolin: 2010), which I wrote and illustrated.
When my life's work book went out of print recently, with no plans by the current publisher to print a third edition despite popular demand, I decided to publish my own digital version of the book on this website, and give it away freely as a class curriculum that can be used to educate students about California's heritage, history, current land management by tribes, and potential future land management.
I am excited to broaden the understanding of how people have lived with California's natural landscapes and wildlife in the past, and how we can carry these lessons into the future.
Native people have been managing California for thousands of years, and a goal of my book/website is to help more people understand how important Traditional Ecological Knowledge is, Indigenous Science, and how we can better support Native people in this endeaver. See my new expanded section in the Fire Chapter on Cultural Fire--#GoodFire. I thank many Yurok and Karok experts for educating me in 2019 on a deeper level about how California was managed in a sophisticated way during pre-colonial times, and still is managed this way if current governments would facilitate this more. May we all respect this deep knowledge going back thousands of years in the oral tradition.
This website explores the stunningly abundant natural heritage of California, and celebrates the diverse history of tribal land management and numerous cultures--people who helped shape the California landscape for thousands of years. This pre-colonial history needs to be better engaged with in educational materials today.
A primary reason I am creating this website is to keep the book from being lost after the publisher erased it from their site, and to give the information away for free to help conserve and restore California.
I led a tour of relict coastal prairies at Point Reyes National Seashore, 2019. Photo: Jack Gescheidt.
I co-led a nature jounaling field sketching class with Jack Laws.