Outdoor Afro

Where black people and nature meet

By Clifton Sorrell

Point Pinole Regional Shoreline is approximately 9 square kilometers in area and is located in Richmond, California. Point Pinole has great views across the bay towards San Francisco, Marin, Sausalito and Napa Valley.

Historically, Point Pinole is the home of one of the largest explosive factory in the Bay Area. The factory was called “Giant Powder Company”. The Giant Powder Company started off as a small community established in 1892; were those that worked at the factory didn’t have a long commute home. The Point Pinole location wasn’t the first for this company, after two deadly explosions at Berkeley and San Francisco; Point Pinole became the ideal location to develop the first dynamite. The Giant Company consolidated with the existing Safety Nitro plant and renamed everything with the Giant name: Giant Station, Giant Village, Giant Highway, etc. During World War I, Giant bought out the nearby little town of Sobrante, then a Croatian fishing village and weekend retreat for wealthy San Franciscans, making Point Pinole just a dynamite related peninsula. In 1915 the newly formed Atlas Powder Co. bought out Giant, but kept the Giant name and trademark. Atlas soon made many improvements mechanizing and streamlining the mechanizing the manufacturing process, eliminating the more dangerous manual labor jobs. New safety features were also added, like earthly embankments and eucalyptus rows around manufacturing buildings to contain explosions, wooden rails and walkways to help prevent sparks, and new employee safety requirements. By 1917 Point Pinole had become an industrial center and company town with its own railroad station, worker housing, and a private recreation area named Giant Park, which closed after the stock market crash in 1929.

During World War II, a new explosive, ammonium nitrate, was introduced which could be produced for one quarter the cost of dynamite, a development which eventually led to Atlas Powder closing Point Pinole's operations in 1960. In 1961 Point Pinole was considered by NASA as the site of the Mission Control Center which would eventually be built in Houston. The land was then built by Bethlehem Steel Company, which tore down many buildings and cleaned up the area for use as a proposed billion dollar steel plant. The narrow gauge rail network was sold for use at Disneyland. But the proposed steel plant never got anywhere, and in 1971 the East Bay Regional Park District bought the first bit of land for the Point Pinole Regional Shoreline.

Today, Point Pinole is seen as a great park to hike, bike, walk, fish and jog. But there is an entire biodiversity network that exists despite the damage of the Giant Powder Company and other that followed. This entire shoreline around Point Pinole is considered a tidal marsh and coastal wetland. A tidal marsh and coastal wetland is an area that has wet and spongy soils, and is located in the “transition zone” between dry land and the ocean. Examples of coastal wetlands are marshes, swamps, or bogs. Wetlands don’t necessarily need to be wet all year round; they can be wet for as little as two weeks in a row and still be considered wetlands. Coastal wetlands can be in fresh water, salty water, or places that are between salty and non-salty. Coastal wetlands have characteristics of both upland (high, dry land) and aquatic areas, but they are neither land nor water. Wetlands are land areas with water over or around them. These unique characteristics mean that wetlands contain a diverse variety of wildlife and plants.

Wetlands are known for their diversity in wildlife and plants but there is still some plants and wildlife that are endangered. The symptoms that create endangered species within the biodiversity network of the coastal wetlands are; urbanization and flooding control to mention a few. Urbanization is a major threat to biodiversity because urban development exterminates wildlife and plants. Through construction of buildings and urban infill structure, natural habitats are suffocated and built over. This doesn’t allow the wildlife and plants to flourish and multiply within their natural habitat.

Flood control is important because if the wetland is over salty or more freshwater than salt water; the equilibrium of the wetland is not balance. An unbalanced wetland will reduce the biodiversity of the wildlife and plants within the habitat. The wildlife and plants that are endangered within the Coastal Wetlands are; Clapper Rail, California Black Rail, Salt-Marsh Harvest Mouse and Pickle Weed.

The preservation of the endangered Coastal Wetland species is dependent upon the preserved park areas that the East Bay Regional Park District has created in Point Pinole Regional Shoreline Park. This preserved area will allow the endangered species to flourish in numbers by creating an area for them to naturally reproduce through re-seeding and breeding.

Sited Sources:
http://www.ebparks...parks/ptpinole.htm - Regional Park website
http://grouper.com...%3d%26fu%3d254154&; - A video I took of the remains on the Nitro Trail.

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Tags: Biodiversity, Conservation, Hiking, Network, Parks, Pinole, Point, Wetlands


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