Golden Gate University Environmental Law Journal


Brian O’Neill, the late Superintendent of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, said that the unifying theme of the Presidio is that of “humans in the natural environment, understood in its broadest context.” This Article explores the critical role that the public played in creating Crissy Field Marsh, a unique feature of the Presidio in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Public involvement is always critical to the operation of the National Park Service. In nearly every new project, members of the public are involved in every step, including but not limited to lobbying politicians, commenting on environmental documents, raising money, and volunteering. Individuals and groups engage in projects at National Parks from the beginning of a project through its completion. But the transformation of a former Army trash dump into a thriving wildlife habitat at Crissy Field Marsh illustrates an extraordinary level of public involvement and collaboration. Organizations and individuals were fully engaged with the design of the marsh and, in particular, with the archeological and engineering challenges involved. Nonprofit organizations, private foundations, and a huge number of individuals contributed time and money to fund the restoration of Crissy Field Marsh and then to plant it with native vegetation. The restoration of Crissy Field Marsh is an extraordinary example of the power of public participation in public projects.