Bilingual Events Part Of Monthlong Celebration At El Polín Spring

Presidio’s Spanish, Mexican Heritage Highlighted In Revitalized Park
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San Francisco - California - US


June 21, 2012 - PRLog -- Each June, the Presidio commemorates its founding and celebrates the people of early California. This year for the first time the celebration includes new bilingual events that highlight the park’s Spanish and Mexican heritage.

El Polín Spring, a newly restored natural treasure at the heart of the Presidio’s largest watershed, was settled by Spanish and Mexican colonial families in 1812, two decades before the founding of Yerba Buena, and was home to some of the Bay Area’s most prominent families of the time, including the Miramontes and Briones families. Join National Park Service Ranger Jose Roldan for a bi-lingual El Polín Walking Tour, on Saturday, June 16 from 2:00-3:00pm. Learn about the plants and wildlife of the Tennessee Hollow Watershed and hear stories of El Polín’s former inhabitants: the Ohlone, Spanish and Mexican settlers. RSVP required. Call (415) 561-4451. Picnic tables and a grill are located at the site.

Juana Briones, one of the Bay Area’s most influential women, was an early settler of El Polín, where she lived for 18 years, before becoming one of three founding residents of Yerba Buena. She and her sisters ran a prosperous business farming at the Presidio and selling produce, dairy, and eggs to Yerba Buena residents as well as to ships docked in San Francisco’s port. She was also known as a “curandera” or traditional healer, and served as a nurse and midwife to the growing community. National Park Service Ranger Fatima Colindres will lead a bi-lingual Juana Briones Ethnobotany Tour on Saturday June 23 from 11:00am-12:15pm. On this interactive tour, participants will use their sense of smell, sight, and taste to learn how people utilized plants such as Eucalyptus, Ceanothus, and Yerba Buena in the Presidio. RSVP required. Call (415) 561-4451.

A wall outlining the location of the adobe foundation of the Briones family home, and a large basin made of Mexican-era tiles designed to capture water for laundry and other chores are visible along the El Polín trail. New bilingual signs-- the first in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA)--in both English and Spanish, mark the exhibits.

On Thursday, June 28, spend an evening with Martha Vallejo-McGettigan, a California historian and great-great-granddaughter of Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo, the Mexican commander of the Presidio from 1831-34. In 1834 General Vallejo convened a meeting at the Presidio’s Officers’ Club that established the civil government of Yerba Buena, the settlement that would become the city of San Francisco. General Vallejo’s Legacy begins at 7:00pm at the Presidio’s Golden Gate Club and includes family accounts and treasures, Mexican and California history, storytelling, and live music. Admission is free.

The Presidio and its partners, the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy and National Park Service are hosting programs throughout the month of June, including family night hikes and discovery programs, “Create with Nature” family days, guided tours through El Polín and the Tennessee Hollow Watershed, and volunteer days. For details and a complete schedule of events visit:

The restoration of El Polín is a project of the Presidio Trust and Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy and was made possible through generous support from Mr. and Mrs. Matthew R. Barger, The James Irvine Foundation, the Kingfisher Foundation, Lynn and Peter Wendell, Julie and Will Parish, the State Water Resources Control Board, and the Department of Conservation Land Resource Protection, Watershed Program. Further  funding will be critical to ongoing restoration efforts at Tennessee Hollow. To learn about how you can contribute, please contact Kathryn Morelli at or (415) 561-3050.

The Presidio Trust was established by the United States Congress in 1996 to administer the Presidio of San Francisco, an urban national park site located at the base of the Golden Gate Bridge. The areas overseen by the Trust include expansive open space and spectacular views, a 300-acre historic forest, and rare and endangered plants and wildlife. The park is home to 13 distinctive plant communities featuring 280 native plant species, 16 of which are rare or endangered. Thousands of hours of volunteer work have restored many acres of natural resource habitat. The Presidio Native Plant Nursery grows 60,000 plants each year to make this restoration possible.  21st-Century “green” practices are employed in all building and landscape rehabilitation efforts.

The Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy is the nonprofit membership organization created to preserve the Golden Gate National Parks, enhance the experiences of park visitors, and build a community dedicated to conserving the parks for the future. The Conservancy is an authorized “cooperating association” of the National Park Service, and is one of more than 70 such nonprofit organizations working with national parks around the country. To learn more, please visit or call (415) 561-3000.

Photos of El Polín and interview with Martha Vallejo-McGettigan available upon request.
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Tags:Nature, History, Education
Location:San Francisco - California - United States
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