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Volume 29
Number 1
Spring-Summer 2012
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In Focus
Published: 4 Sep 2015 (online)  •  14 Sep 2015 (in print)
  Science partnerships at Golden Gate National Recreation Area
Counting hawks and winning hearts
A quarter century of citizen science in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area
Growing good science and strong partnerships through park native plant nurseries
Teaming up to track down endangered species
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Science partnerships at Golden Gate National Recreation Area

Photo of hawk watcher, binoculars trained on the eastern skies of Golden Gate National Recreation Area, with Golden Gate Bridge in background.


Veteran hawk counter Bill James surveys the eastern skies at Golden Gate National Recreation Area for migrating raptors.

Key words

California red-legged frogs, citizen science, endangered species, Golden Gate, hawks, mission blue butterflies, native plants, nurseries, raptors, San Bruno elfin butterflies, volunteers

While not a panacea, partnerships should not be underestimated as a powerful means to expand science in the parks. We describe three successful partnership-based, park science programs: the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy’s Golden Gate Raptor Observatory, Native Plant Nurseries, and Park Stewardship Program, which also receive support from the Presidio Trust. Combined, these programs illustrate how carefully crafted and effectively run partnerships can help expand the depth and breadth of park science. While these programs are all a part of the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy—the nonprofit partner of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area—the partnerships described here are not just among organizations, but also between the park and the cadre of committed volunteers who dedicated nearly 514,000 hours to the park in 2011 alone. These volunteers constitute a community of park supporters and advocates, ranging from high school students to PhD scientists, whose impact extends far beyond park boundaries.


These articles are dedicated to the memory of Brian O’Neill, former general superintendent of Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Brian was an enthusiastic and adamant supporter of NPS volunteerism and a champion of community-driven conservation in the parks.

About the author

Michelle O’Herron is the science communication specialist with the San Francisco Bay Area Network and is with the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, Fort Mason Building 201, 3rd Floor, San Francisco, California, 94123. She can be reached by e-mail.

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