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Bay Area Briefs

Saturday November 24, 2001

Famous siren saved 


SAN FRANCISCO — San Francisco’s historical Ferry Building siren has recently been saved from being thrown in the dump. The siren was, in its heyday, the biggest and loudest horn in the world. 

Crews working on the $80 million renovations on the Ferry Building came across the 8-foot-long, 1 ton iron siren last month. Not knowing what to do with it, crews took sledgehammers to it and busted it into pieces. They put the debris in trash bins that were on their way to the dump. 

But when the son of the siren’s inventor drove by the building last month, he noticed his father’s masterpiece was missing. Seventy-four-year-old Harry W. Heath, his brother, Wally, and The San Francisco Chronicle started calling the Port of San Francisco and City Hall. After the crews realized that had thrown away a piece of history, they scrambled to the trash bins and recovered the main pieces of the siren. Now, parts of it may end up in a museum. 




Local ‘Everglades’ a reality? 


OAKLAND — The National Audubon Society is working to preserve some 100,000 acres of wetlands in the Bay Area, even though some local groups haven’t been too welcoming. 

The society hopes to turn the area into the Everglades of the West Coast. It wants to invest $2 billion for the first phase and work for a 20-year period on the project. 

While some environmentalists are happy to have such a heavyweight on their side, others fear the group will take credit for some 40-years worth of fighting to preserve the area. 

“There’s no question we’re trying to make the size of the pie bigger,” said Nadine Hitchcock, program manager for the Coastal Conservancy’s San Francisco Bay Program. “But right now, given the financial situation, the reality of making the pie bigger is basically zilch.” 

The Packard Foundation gave the Audubon Society $800,000 in seed money for the project. 

Local groups said the plan came to them as a surprise and in a whirlwind fashion. 

Audubon officials have since contacted local environmental groups, asking for their support. 

“That was the success of the Everglades,” said Debbie Drake, the Audubon’s San Francisco Bay restoration program director. “You had (Audubon members) in Michigan and Ohio writing to their congressmen saying fund this.”