Restored San Francisco Area Marshland (Guest Post)

Wind Sculpture Trio, Photo by Eva Barrows

This week we are in for such a treat as Wild. Here. readers get to be transported to the warm and sunny San Francisco area thanks to an amazing collaborator: Eva Barrows.  The blue sky photos alone are wonderful to take in!  She is a talented writer and enthusiastic adventurer and traveler and shares her explorations on her blog (Eva Barrows Blog) writing about many different things including scenic areas, historic buildings and other various adventures.  

Today she is sharing with us an outing she took to Seal Point Park south of the city including a sound clip (what a brilliant idea!) that really helps immerse the reader in this article.  Here's what she said about the recording: "I recorded some awesome sound of me crunching around on the walking path trying to get close to some noisy birds because they have a real unique sound. I captured the birds as well as jet engines (the park is under the flight path for SFO (San Francisco International Airport)) and road traffic noise to illustrate the "urban nature" of the area."  So come along with Eva to Seal Point!

Restored San Francisco Area Marshland Reclaimed by Nature and Residents 

Seal Point Park, situated on and around a lush green hill, rises above the surrounding San Francisco Bay marshland. The park is nestled between marsh-front business parks, residential neighborhoods and industrial businesses in San Mateo California. Seal Point is located twenty miles south of the heart of San Francisco on the densely populated San Francisco Peninsula. San Mateo is home to over 100,000 people who work locally or commute to high-tech jobs in Silicon Valley and San Francisco. Hardworking residents find opportunities to break away from the office to experience tranquility along with a dose of physical activity at Seal Point.

Foot Path Up Seal Point Hill, Photo by Eva Barrows

Seal Point Park wasn’t always a beautiful recreation area. It began life as marshland that was then transformed into a city garbage dump. A lone hill just at the water’s edge didn’t match the rest of the landscape making me suspicious of the park’s origin. A little research found that the area had been City of San Mateo East Third Avenue Landfill until 1987. Work to create the park as it is today started back in 2002. The organization SaveThe Bay brought awareness and activism to the Bay Area population to stop polluting the Bay and move the area’s many trash dumps away from the water.

Golden Flower Sculpture with San Mateo and Noisy Birds, Photo by Eva Barrows

Upon entering the park, visitors have a choice to park at the base of the hill or take the lone road continuing straight to the top of Seal Point. I went on up. The road cut through tall green grass and flowered bushes. The big blue sky with bright sun shone down. The land plateaued at the top of the hill. A 360 degree view of the entire mid-section of the San Francisco Bay was before me. Airplanes flew in and out of the San Francisco International Airport (SFO), container ships passed under the San Francisco Bay Bridge, the cities of the East Bay gleamed across the way and all of San Mateo stretched out behind me.

View of San Francisco, Photo by Eva Barrows 

The moment I opened the car door the excited chirping of hundreds of small black birds engulfed me. Birds sang high pitched repeating staccato “tick tick.” While other birds took up a song of garbled vibrations that sounded like a digital watch tone. Adding to the natural chorus were cricket zings, frog croaks and duck quacks. Sounds of urban action, decelerating jet engines of airplanes preparing to land, clanking heavy duty utility trucks and other street traffic racing by the shoreline were overpowered by Seal Point’s birds.

  Audio Recording: Chorus of Birds Against Urban Noise

The park’s permanent art installation “Wind Walk” is a series of sculpture that plays with wind currents coming off the bay or encourages visitors to supply a little wind of their own. I walked between two large metal cupped bowls and experienced a sudden hush. No more noisy birds! The sound of my shoes against crunchy sand filled the space. I said, “who” and “whoooo” came back at me.

Cupped Bowls Sound Sculpture, Photo by Eva Barrows

I tried another sculpture, this one was a bundle of tall pipes with mouth pieces. I offered a “whooo” into the mouth piece and out came a tuba like bass sound from the top. Many beautiful decorative wind sculptures are placed throughout the park. The one right at the top of the hill is a giant golden flower shaped to circulate wind.

Wind Tubas, Photo by Eva Barrows

Excited dogs bound from their vans and off pickup truck tailgates at the dog park portion of Seal Point. Happy dogs splashed around at the garden-hose after a satisfying play in the park while dogs on their way into the park pulled with anticipation at their leashes. Dog parents throw balls and hand out treats to the well behaved. The dog park is situated between high tension power lines with electric transmission towers placed at intervals through the park and beyond. The same noisy birds as before hide out in the towers and fill the air with chirping.

Dog Park Under Power Lines, Photo by Eva Barrows

Seal Point Park is on the Bay Trail, a continuous trail that will run 500 miles with 350 miles currently completed around the circumference of the San Francisco Bay. A pedestrian bridge links the Seal Point section of trail to the next park in the network.

Bay Trail Pedestrian Bridge, Photo by Eva Barrows

The trail is protected from motor vehicle traffic, encouraging people to get out and be active. Recreation seekers were out in force on the scenic stretch of trail running, skateboarding and bike riding. The gray bay water calmly lapped at the rocky shore and offered some cooling breeze. A gravel stairway, connecting to the trail, leads to the top of the green hill. Grass sprouts all over the stairway as nature asserts itself over the reclaimed landfill.

Stairway Claimed by Nature, Photo by Eva Barrows

Seal Point Park has made an amazing transformation over the years. The area went from smelly garbage dump to popular recreation area. The views of the Bay are incomparable and now secured for the public to enjoy. The park provides a sense of wonder and exploration that makes for happy dogs and even happier birds.

Tree Wind Sculpture, Photo by Eva Barrows

Guest Blogger Eva Barrows lives in California in the San Francisco Bay region. She is a freelance and fiction writer with a comedic bent. Eva blogs about local places, people, and events on her writer website She founded Imitation Fruit Literary Journal, in 2007 and has enjoyed promoting fellow writers and artists ever since. Follow her on Twitter: @evabarrows


  1. What a unique and special place. I hope to visit someday. Thank you so much for taking us along with you.

    Besos Sarah.

  2. Thanks so much for dropping by Sarah! It does sound amazing and I'm so glad that Eva shared this cool place with us!

  3. I'm thrilled that you're enjoying the virtual trip!

  4. Love the sound recording!

    1. Isn't it great - such a brilliant addition that Eva thought of!