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MMWD Blog: Think Blue Marin

Welcome to our blog! Written by staff at MMWD, “Think Blue Marin” explores all things water in south and central Marin—water supplies, conservation, new projects, watershed management, and more.

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Oct 19

Planes, Trains and …

Posted on October 19, 2018 at 9:29 AM by Ann Vallee

by Charlene Burgi

water scenes from Europe
Top to bottom: Walls of color in Italy, hot spring under the lake at Neuschwanstein, the force of water on the Rhine
This traveler is back home on the range after visiting breathtaking parts of the United Kingdom and portions of gorgeous continental European countryside with as many as 17 immediate family members. As you read this, a die-hard seven of those grandchildren, their spouses and my son continue exploring beyond this weary matriarch’s journey. 

Planning for this trip began almost two years ago—before one granddaughter’s marriage and another granddaughter and husband adding a tiny precious member into the ever-growing family. Born from an adventurous seed, the trip morphed into what took caravans to move at times. Countries various family members had long dreamed of exploring became goals that extended beyond my original thoughts of sharing their great grandmothers’ and great grandfathers’ homeland. Thank goodness for those trains, planes, buses, ferries and cars to transport us all to our desired destinations.

As I reflect back on an incredible family journey, there are places that immediately stand out for their beautiful gardens, interesting designs, water-conserving ideas and breathtaking views—some of which I have already shared in the past few blogs. 

No matter the setting, there was one common denominator: water. Whether in the form of lakes, rivers, fountains or falls, water was always present. Some of these waterways created curiosities or displayed force we often don’t think about. For example, hot springs within the lake at Neuschwanstein Castle created an eerie mist in one section of the glacial blue waters. At first we were stymied by the one-and-only spot where this mysterious mist appeared, until my son-in-law put the hot spring puzzle together.

The trip to Rhine Falls on the border of Switzerland and Germany also was a source of awe. The water here is a force to reckon with. It poured in from so many directions, cascading down and around rocks and pooling up only to tumble and descend further with such force. Despite the distance I stood from the falls, my camera lens would have fared better had it sported a windshield wiper.

Each town we visited found beautiful lakes with incredible ferry transportation, or lazy and famous rivers ambling in the midst of ancient cobbled streets and romantic walkways. Those walkways enticed a reluctant walker to stroll alongside the beautiful waterways, or offered benches to dwell upon. 

Artistic touches appeared in doorways, plant-covered arches and buildings. Even the walkways and roads constructed of cobbled stones found everywhere we walked delighted the eye with decorative figures built into the streets. 

Despite the thrill of sharing this trip with family, experiencing the history and beauty found overseas, plus capturing a morsel of this event with you, my heart delighted when I pulled up to the ranch to find two golden retrievers dancing with glee, kitties rubbing against my legs, horses nickering a hello, and donkeys braying as if to say welcome home. The bottom line—vacations are wonderful but there is no place like home. Thanks for sharing that time along the way!
Oct 18

Meet a Western Pond Turtle-Saving Super Hero!

Posted on October 18, 2018 at 9:33 AM by Emma Detwiler

By Gabriela Guaiumi, Watershed Stewards Program Member 2018

The northern and southern Western Pond Turtles are the only native species of turtle in California. The northern western pond turtle, Actinemys marmorata, is found right here on the Mt. Tamalpais Watershed. In an effort to help protect this native species, we monitor the population with our Turtle Observer Program.

We also monitor non-native turtles we find on the watershed, the most common of which is the red-eared slider. These non-native turtles usually find their way on to the watershed as pets that have been released by their owners. While the owners may think they are doing the right thing by releasing their turtles in their “natural habitat” they are actually disrupting the pond turtles’ habitat and the ecosystem of the watershed.

Our Turtle Observer program would not be possible without dedicated volunteers, and we are so grateful to everyone who chose to donate their time. The volunteer who donated the most hours this year was a new volunteer, Andre. He is only 14 years old, and is extremely passionate about fish and turtles. In fact, his idea of fun is exploring different places to find and identify species. He was exploring the watershed even before he knew about our Turtle Observer program.

As a thank you for giving so much of his time to the Turtle Observer program, Andre joined me in taking the red-eared sliders from our “turtle jail” to the Sonoma County Reptile Rescue. We talked about animals for the entire drive up and back, and he was a delight to be around. He is intelligent, articulate, and his passion and curiosity are infectious.

Volunteers like Andre help keep the Mt. Tam watershed and the native species who call it home healthy and safe. Thank you, Andre, for your dedication!

 Andre Turtle  
 Andre and a red-eared slider he captured.

 Andre Turtle 2
 Andre placing a red-eared slider in the drop-off pond.

Oct 15

Rebates for Your Fall Garden Projects

Posted on October 15, 2018 at 9:17 AM by Ann Vallee

fall gardens for webFall is a great time to make garden upgrades, and we have rebates to help!

Get up to $50 for organic mulch or compost: Adding these materials to your garden helps build rich, spongy soil that can better absorb and hold on to water—a natural storage system for winter rains. A blanket of mulch can also help prevent erosion during downpours and keep root systems warm and snuggly in the event of a cold snap.

Get up to $50 for rain barrels: Make the most of what Mother Nature delivers to your property by investing in a rain barrel or cistern to capture some of your roof runoff for later use. Rain barrels are ideal for watering container plants or for use as a backup supply in the event of an emergency.

Get $2 per square foot from the State of California when you replace your thirsty lawn with water-efficient landscaping, up to a total rebate of $2,000. Fall is a good time to tackle this project as winter rains can help new plantings get established.

To learn more about all of these rebates, visit: