Opening the corridor - Page 2

San Francisco is a dangerous town for butterflies

"The Mission is such an incredible hotspot for culture," she said, "and then we have all these natural areas."

The urban wildlife corridor would meander from Dolores Park to Franklin Square at 17th Street and Bryant, a route based on both existing garden-able spaces — among them Alioto Mini Park (16th Street and Capp) and John O'Connell High School (18th Street and Harrison) — and potentially receptive businesses, such as Project Artaud Theater and KQED's studios.

Hasselbring is eager to remove sections of unused sidewalk and transform them into sidewalk gardens. Mohammed Nuru, deputy director of operations for the Department of Public Works, told us that the city tries to make the permitting process as simple as possible to encourage citizen-built "green highways." He said it generally takes about six weeks, depending on the area's status and the planting plan. In the two years it's been available, more than 200 people have applied.

"We strongly support the greening of the city and the removal of asphalt," he said. "The city has a lot of vacant lots that at one time were planned to be streets, but because the city is so hilly, they never happened. Those are huge opportunities also for becoming green spaces."

In May, Hasselbring and 50 volunteers, organized by the Recreation and Park Department, established 200 individual plants in the three-foot-wide border around Mission Playground. Now, a habitat garden of 13 different species thrives where previously only Rugosa roses and ficus trees grew.

Dylan Hayes, a landscape ecologist and neighbor of this first site, selected the native plants for their ability to foster local fauna: creeping manzanita for wintering hummingbirds, pink flowering current for berry-loving thrushes, sticky monkey flower for bumblebees, and so on.

"It's like the Field of Dreams: If you build it, they will come," Hayes said, mantra-like. "People are battling about what it means to be a 'green city.' But if you want a green city, you need to simply invite nature in."

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