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A Short History of Friends of Lake Merced

Lake Merced is a fresh-water lake located in the southwest corner of San Francisco, California, USA.  (Find a map of the area here.)  The Lake is a major water, recreational, and natural resouce for the City of San Francisco and the surrounding area.  Also important, Lake Merced is an integral link in an ecological system that spans the Western Hemisphere.

Friends of Lake Merced (FoLM) is an all-volunteer, community-based organization dedicated to restoring and preserving the natural and recreational value of Lake Merced.  Now in our eighth year of operation, FoLM has approximately 150 active members.  Our goal is to bring together and develop Friends of the Lake who are interested in and knowledgeable about the Lake and its shores, and who can work together to support and sustain this very real treasure.  Providing Friends of the Lake with opportunities to learn about the lake, its history and its many natural features, is a top priority of our organization.

In recent years the Lake and its surrounding environs have deteriorated due to increased use, decreased maintenance, and the decline of the Lake water level.   We have found it necessary to undertake an extensive campaign of letter writing and other political action to attempt to reverse this trend.  While a number of planning activities have been directed toward addressing this issue, there is still no long-term plan for the sustained support of Lake Merced.

A number of our members participated extensively in the preparation of a Comprehensive Management Plan for Lake Merced (May 1998).  We've posted much of that plan, together with our comments, on this web site.  As you will see, we are less than enthusiastic about the result of this exercise.  Tom Stienstra, a columnist for the San Francisco Examiner, put it bluntly:  "The long-awaited Lake Merced Management Plan was hoped to be a salvation.  Instead it is one of the biggest disappointments in the lake's 120-year history, a precious opportunity that is being squandered."  You can keep track of this, and other planning activities, by reviewing the planning section of our web site.

Our most important ongoing activity has been the development of a native plants restoration site on a mesa near the northeast corner of the lake.  A number of volunteers meet the first Saturday of every month at "the site" (1:00 P.M. if you can join us) to pull ice plant and grass, to remove litter and debris, and to gather seed and plant seedlings when the season is right.  We've also been involved with students from a number of area schools who have come out and joined the work parties.  The effect this has had on not only the native plants, but on the support of wildlife species as well, is impressive.

There are many others interested in Lake Merced who are contributing their expertise and experience.  These include the Sierra Club, the Northern California chapter of the Audubon Society, and the California Native Plants Society.  We work closely with government agencies both in San Francisco and neighboring Daly City.  The Committee to Save Lake Merced, with their special focus on stabilizing the water level in the lake, are full partners in our effort.

We'd like you to be a partner too.  We have no membership fees, in fact no formal organization.  Just participate with us over the internet, or come to one of our periodic meetings.  We meet at the Lake Merced Boathouse Restaurant on Harding Drive.  Our regular meeting date is the second Thursday of each month.  We start at 7 P.M., and we try to be through by 9.  Check our calendar to confirm the date of the next scheduled meeting.

We have built this web site to provide a venue for greater public participation in the support and conservation of Lake Merced.  Please send us your thoughts on ways in which Lake Merced can be improved, and especially the role we in the community can play in helping to make those improvements possible.

Again, welcome to our web site.  We're glad you came by, and we look forward to hearing from you.