The Attempted Homicide of a Sanctuary

  |   Creeks, Hikes in the City, History, Infiltrations, Parks, Spots Explored, Watershed   |   5 Comments

Photo by David Erickson

UPDATE 4/14/2010: Via Matt Baume, from StreetsBlog:

The PUC … proposes to terminate the creek in a manufactured wetland at the western end of Islais Creek Channel. The area is currently an asphalt lot just down the street from the headquarters of Mythbusters, used occasionally to store vehicles.

This would be a fantastic and appropriate honor for this spot. (And there is still more than just asphalt here!)

Once upon a time in 2001, there was a tiny plot of shoreline, Muwekma Ohlone Park and Wildlife Sanctuary, named after the native people who once populated the San Francisco peninsula. Guerrilla gardeners had, for years, nurtured this vestige of unlikely marshland amidst the industrial zone near Hunters Point.

More after the jump…

It became home to a cute, singing frog; some birds; and was an outdoor classroom for local children to learn a lesson about the original state of our land (and the hideous invulnerability of “The Octopus“).

Photo by David Erickson

And then, on Thanksgiving Day of that same year, MUNI busted a sewer main, flooding the park with shit. They brought out the bulldozers and covered it up, destroying a third of the small plot.

In 2005, MUNI struck again, this time trying to burrow under the channel for the sake of its T-Third Street expansion of mayhem, and turned what remained of the “pocket park” back into a turd puddle.

Again, the bulldozers. Again, loss of habitat.

Bulldozing the Park

Four years later, the T-Third line is up and running and the Muwekma pocket park is long gone. What does the spot look like now?


As of October 4th, 2009, it’s clear that there is still an impressive act of nature happening here. Remnants of marsh remain, enough that I saw birds hunting for fish, and you can clearly see in the above shot that vegetation, including pickle weed and myrtle, refuses to yield to the pollution.

Suck it, bulldozers.

The site is presently inaccessible to the public, and can only be reached by hopping the guard rail of the Illinois Street bridge and climbing down the industrial fence. (It can be a bitch getting back up.) It looks like it’s currently used by skaters or junkies, or skater junkies.


  • Lobos Creek & Mountain Lake « Spots Unknown San Francisco | Oct 18, 2009 at 6:32 pm

    […] almost half of the Presidio's water supply, and is also one of the last traces of the free-flowing creeks that used to criss-cross San […]

  • sam breach | Sep 10, 2010 at 12:54 pm

    Someone told me recently you can find yerba buena (the minty herb that San Francisco used to be named after) at Islais Creek, it’s in my hood so I’ve been meaning to go check for it, but I am not very good at climbing over barbed wire. Did you know that Islais is pronounced “iss-lis” and is the Ohlone word for wild cherry trees that grew there?

  • Jeff Diehl | Sep 10, 2010 at 12:58 pm

    i did know, sam. also, i just passed by there again last week and the place where i hopped the fence has been secured, so no more access.

  • sam breach | Sep 10, 2010 at 1:13 pm

    Thanks for the info Jeff, nice to meet you. Anyone who knows those kinds of details sounds like my kind of person. I am so excited to discover your blog and can’t wait to wade through the archives. I do a lot of my urban discovery using a GPS iphone app called ‘flook’ which hardly anyone else in the Bay area uses – so it’s been a bit lonely out there discovering things…

  • Jeff Diehl | Sep 10, 2010 at 1:47 pm

    yes, i’ve already sniffed out Flook from your Twitter account. signed up and will give it a shot.