Understanding, promoting, protecting
the wild and serene places of San Francisco's
John McLaren Park

McLaren Park News

McLaren Park, like all natural areas, never sleeps. Something is always going on: an event, maintenance, the arrival of new species, photo exhibits showcasing the park's natural beauty. check out these happenings, watch the videos and slideshows and marvel at the jewel that exists among us.

McLaren Park Hosts a Second Bioblitz

Slideshow: View pictures of the 2013 bioblitz. Click on picture to enlarge, move mouse away to view, click again to shrink.
  • Bioblitzers gather for morning instructions.
  • The bioblitz begins.
  • Blitzers in action.
  • Everything is fair game, from the largest...
  • ...to the smallest.
  • Just some of the species found in 2013. What will you find?

Help us discover wildlife in San Francisco’s John McLaren Park! Join naturalists, park neighbors, and citizen scientists at the second-ever McLaren Park Bioblitz on Saturday, April 16, 2016.

What is a bioblitz?

A bioblitz is an effort to document as much life as possible in a park in a limited amount of time. For a few hours, nature experts, citizen scientists, neighbors and kids will roam the hills and trails of McLaren looking for snails, birds, mammals, frogs, butterflies, insects, spiders, trees, worms, flowers, mushrooms -- anything and everything we can find!

How can I help if I don’t know what I’m looking at?

You don’t need to be an expert! Anyone with a smartphone and enthusiasm for nature can join in. We’ll use a clever software app called iNaturalist (available free for iPhone and Android devices) to photograph and map all the different plants and critters we see. Our observations will be uploaded to the iNaturalist online community where experts will  help identify species we don’t know, and ensure the ones we think we know are correct.

How successful was the first McLaren Park bioblitz?

We held our first blitz in 2013, and the results from that event and observations since have been tremendously interesting. In the last three years, almost 1700 iNat observations have been posted from McLaren Park by over 100 observers, and about 250 of the park’s estimated 350 historically-observed species have been confirmed. You can watch a short video of the 2013 McLaren BioBlitz here.

Who is organizing the Bioblitz?

The event is sponsored by Nerds for Nature, California Academy of Sciences, and Save McLaren Park, with support from SF Recreation and Parks Department, June Jordan School for Equity, and others. The bioblitz is also one of many public events across the country that are being planned  as part of National Citizen Science Day.

Why do it again?

We know we’re barely scratching the surface! We expect this year’s expanded effort to yield many more fun surprises and helpful facts about the park’s inhabitants. The closer we look, the more we find -- from skippers to spiders to salamanders to slime mold.  We also want to start understanding what might be changing over time, and what new things we might see after our long drought and recent winter rains.

What’s new this time around?

Sound engineer Dan Dugan will be recording a pre-dawn nature chorus in McLaren, as he has famously done from Muir Woods to Yosemite and beyond. Other members of the Nature Sounds Society will be capturing birdsong audio to identify species by sound.
Wildlife photographer and researcher Dan Sherman, who developed his techniques working with scientists on the Galapagos Islands, will bring his gigapan camera gear to capture some eye-popping ultra-high-resolution panoramas of the park.
See a butterfly on a wildflower? Log them both from one photo and make a note of it! This species interaction metadata can then be analyzed by ground-breaking new software tools like Global Biotic Interactions to help us start to figure out “who’s eating what, when, where, and why”.

What should I bring?

Bring the smartphone, bring the camera with the macro or telephoto lens, bring your friends, bring the kids, bring water and trail snacks, and bring your curiosity to this park-wide species hunt! We’ll all gain a better understanding of McLaren’s natural wonders, while generating invaluable data for future generations of park stewards and researchers.

Event Info

The 2016 McLaren Park bioblitz will take place on Saturday, April 16 from 10 am to 2 pm. at the June Jordan School for Equity, on Brazil Street near LaGrande, on the western edge of McLaren Park.

Arrive any time after 9 am to sign in, learn about the iNaturalist smartphone app from experienced bioblitzers, and enjoy morning beverages and snacks. Then at 10 am we'll gather around and get organized for the blitz!

After exploring the park for three hours, we’ll return to June Jordan School for an awesome wrap party, where we’ll upload our photos, share blitz stories, and take initial stock of the day’s findings.

Event Registration, Transit Info and More!

Mansell Streetscape Improvement Project Underway!

New Asphalt on Mansell!At long last, we can say good bye to the ill-conceived, pot-holed, four-lane super highway which, for decades, has dangerously cut through the center of peaceful McLaren Park.

After a November 23, 2015 dedication ceremony attended by city officials and members of the public, construction has officially begun! The southern two lanes are now closed to traffic while resurfacing, crosswalks, and other features are built. During this time, two-directorial traffic has been moved onto the northern lanes, connecting the park’s eastern Portola/Visitacion Valley neighborhoods with the western Excelsior neighborhood.

Then, later this summer, cars will permanently shift back to the improved southern lanes and the northern lanes will be converted to undulating, landscaped, people and bicycle friendly paths. McLaren Park is increasingly becoming popular among a diverse and nature-loving population including local neighbors and visitors from afar.

The new and improved Mansell Street will provide a safe and beautiful way for all people to enjoy our lovely park.

Coyotes in the Park: Spring Means New Pups

It's Spring, and new Coyote pups will be arriving over the next few months, possibly including McLaren Park. That means its more important than ever that everyone be aware of their presence and act appropriately. Coyotes, humans and dogs can all coexist if we follow some simple rules:, listed below.

City coyotes are generally not a threat to humans. Timid by nature, they have adapted to the urban environment and are able to find plenty of food.

(Click image for info on coexisting with coyotes. For a more detailed brochure, click here.)

If you see a coyote:
  • Do not approach it. Back away calmly.
  • Do not offer it food.
  • Important: control your dog! Coyotes and dogs do not mix and your dog will lose a fight. Smaller dogs can even be killed. Keep your dog on leash in areas where coyotes have been sighted.
  • If a coyote approaches you, make yourself large, shout, if necessary throw something (not food!) at or behind the coyote, and move away slowly towards a more human-populated area.

Many organizations have formed to help humans, dogs and coyotes get along. CoyoteCoexistence.com offers info and more on coyotes living around humans. Click on the image at left to watch their acclaimed video, Coyotes As Neighbors.

"Only in San Francisco:" A Delightful Flashback to McLaren Park's History

Artist's Soapbox Derby, 1975 In some hazy, half-forgotten previous life did you happen to see a giant ladybug scooting around Shelley Loup? if so, you may have been around for the 1975 "Incredible San Francisco Artists Soapbox Derby".

If you've never heard of the event or know you were there but can't remember a thing – it was the 70s – good news! A movie has surfaced! Filmed by Amanda Pope and posted on Vimeo by Mike Haeg, this is the the perfect video to watch for a bit of McLaren Park nostalgia. Click on the video link to the left and enjoy.

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