McLaren Park is named for the fabled master gardener of Golden Gate Park. It was dedicated in 1927 by John McLaren himself, who wished for a place of “unspoiled alpine joy in the City”. Soon after, Boy ...more ↓
McLaren Park is named for the fabled master gardener of Golden Gate Park. It was dedicated in 1927 by John McLaren himself, who wished for a place of “unspoiled alpine joy in the City”. Soon after, Boy Scouts planted thousands of trees and WPA crews built the first trails and roads. McLaren Park started as a 500-acre spread, but by the 1950's had been reduced to the current 317 acres. About half of the park remains undeveloped and is designated by RecPark as protected Natural Areas.
This second-largest land area in the City's park system contains a diverse mosaic of habitats filled with birds, butterflies, bees, bugs, grasslands, forests, wildflowers, weeds, and the sounds and smells of nature. Though much of the park was cultivated and ranched in earlier times, and invasive plants and human activity sometimes diminish the ecosystem's health, a rich tapestry of life still thrives there. So far, 306 species have been reported in McLaren, and you can find them all here.
So please take some time to explore this guide, and then go explore the park!
NOTE! This electronic field guide is still in development and uses "unofficial" iNat guide features, so if the system occasionally burps or you see funny formatting here or there, don't despair, the iNat team is working on it. Please enjoy the guide with this caveat in mind.
Let us know if you have any questions of if you have an interesting plant or wildlife sighting in the park. Or, join iNat and log your own observations, so we can find out about it here!
Other iNat views:
For more information, visit:
Much of the data in this guide was collected during an iNat-powered bioblitz in May, 2013 in partnership with Nerds For Nature. Volunteers and visitors continue to record observations. We're also planning more McLaren bioblitzes in the future so watch this space or sign up for the Save McLaren Park newsletter to stay informed about upcoming nature-related events in the park.
Other information for this guide comes from decades of field reports and species lists lovingly and laboriously compiled by CNPS and Audubon and the SF Breeding Bird Atlas and SFRPD's McLaren Natural Areas Plan and so on, as well as our own observations in the park. These were collated by Save McLaren Park and entered into the database by iNat folks. So this guide really is a fairly comprehensive collection of plants and critters that have been sighted in the park at some point or another in semi-recent history, even though there are still many holes to fill with updated confirmations.
By default, my name shows up as the "compiler" of the McLaren guide, but I'm more like the administrator. For example, I can do things like add McLaren-specific comments to particular species pages -- in this case, a remark I remember from Alan Hopkins during an Audubon bird walk in the park a few years ago. So, as you're wandering through the guide and you see something that you know a lot about that looks wrong or incomplete for that species in McLaren, please drop me a line and I can add it to our collection of the park's nature knowledge.
The real compiler, of course, is the innovative iNaturalist software, written and maintained largely by Ken-ichi Ueda. Ken-ichi has an infectious enthusiasm for sharing the dazzling diversity of nature, and it comes through loud and clear in his clever crowd-sourcing creations. Basically, iNaturalist is a social and archival network which enables and encourages online naturalists to help identify species observations. When two or more site users agree on an ID, the observation becomes Research Quality and is logged into the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) for researchers around the world to use (and for local park visitors to use in this field guide). Listen to this Commonwealth Club presentation by Ken-ichi and Scott Loarie to better understand this revolutionary scheme to document and comprehend biodiversity.
Nerd For Nature and Save McLaren Park volunteer less ↑