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It begins with the rocks. Hart is currently working on a chapter on geological and geographical basics of Marin: how the bones of the land were formed and shaped, how and when the county became a peninsula, and what makes it distinctive even among the varied landscapes of California. He will then turn to what is known about the plant and animal life of the region before the arrival of human beings at the end of the last glaciation.

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The Project

Fifty years on, Hart is moved to tell in full the Marin environmental story he has addressed piecemeal, beginning with, indeed before, Miwok days, in lively but impeccably documented fashion. Portions of the evolving text will be posted on this site. Work will proceed chronologically, bringing each period into focus before approaching the next. Each chapter will be written to be a resource in itself. No conventional publisher’s contract can support this multi-year effort. With MarinLink as fiscal sponsor and a crucial seed-money stake from the Marin Conservation League, he asks your support in the form of tax-deductible donations of any amount. Donors will be gratefully acknowledged and kept informed as the work progresses.

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John Hart

The Author

John Hart’s first byline appeared in Marin County’s weekly Pacific Sun in August of 1970. Since then, he has ranged over a vast landscape of environmental issues in 16 books and several hundred articles. Frequently, though, the Marin resident circles back to home turf. Four of his titles, including the award-winning Farming on the Edge (Univ. of California Press, 1991), have focused squarely on local affairs. His books were drawn on for the noted TV documentary Rebels with a Cause, which tells how a vast coastal greenbelt, stretching north from the Golden Gate, came to be.

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Ariel View of Golden Gate Bridge

The Place

Marin County, a bridge away from San Francisco, is a gorgeous, problematic little world. Taxpayers nationwide have helped buy its magnificent parks; local efforts have placed half of its farmland under agricultural conservation easement. Its biodiversity is extraordinarily high; its human diversity extraordinarily low. Big choices lie ahead as the state brings pressure to house more people and as sea level rise and violent weather swings, results of global warming, upset old expectations. To help ground ongoing debates, Marinites and Marin-watchers need a deep knowledge of how the county got to where it is now: the marvelous natural endowment and its fortunes; the gains, losses, wrangles, transformations that have made Marin simultaneously an environmental model and for some a cautionary tale.

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