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Getting to Know Your Crew Leader: Nick Birth

Updated: Feb 7, 2021

Meet Sutro Stewards Crew Leader, Nick Birth! Nick has been an active crew leader with Sutro Stewards, San Francisco Urban Riders and a San Miguel Hills enthusiast! Nick leads other volunteers and assures they complete all work safely and feel satisfied with their accomplishments. Thank you Nick! Read more about Nick here.

Can you tell us a little about yourself? What is your background and where are you from?

I’m originally from Minneapolis, MN. My family is full of engineers and cyclists, so I was exposed to those activities from an early age. Every year on the first day of school my parents used to take a group photo of my siblings and I with our backpacks at the front steps of our house. Last time I was home I went on a bike tour and recreated the photo with my camping gear.

In my day job I work for the City of San Francisco in the sewer engineering office. Like many older cities, San Francisco has a combined sewer system where the storm-water runoff and sanitary sewage share the same pipes. This creates many interesting challenges in our work, and over the years massive infrastructure has been built to manage the combined sewer. There are several sewer treatment plants which can overflow during rain storms into large moat-like holding tank structures that surround the City underneath The Embarcadero and Great Highway. You can see them on the Oakland Museum of California maps of the historic creeks of the Bay Area, with the modern sewers and development shown on top. The section of the Mission Creek map below shows a few of my favorite San Francisco locations.

How did you first hear about Sutro Stewards and what made you want to volunteer initially?

I knew John Seagrave and ReZz (two regular volunteers at Sutro) from a weekly pickup bike polo game. They introduced me to Mt Sutro and we’ve been volunteering together for several years now. Initially I was attracted to volunteering as a way to meet new friends.

What made you want to take the next step to become a Crew Leader and what commitment and responsibilities do you have in that leadership position?

As a Crew Leader, I’ve committed to regularly attend the Habitat and Trail Stewardship work days on the first and third Saturday of the month. Along with the other leaders, I help to create a safe atmosphere where volunteers can feel satisfied that their skills and muscle are effectively put to use.

My inspiration for several years has been this 2010 proposal put together by a coalition including Sutro Stewards. The maps inside show a vision for “restoring contiguous habitat and public trails through Mount Sutro, Twin Peaks, and Glen Canyon, comprising a new San Miguel Hills Bioregional Park.” It is especially exciting to me because of the overlapping opportunities for recreation, habitat improvement, and water resources management.

In the past year I’ve been working with SF Urban Riders to expand on the proposal. We’re promoting a looped trail through the same area, including Sutro trails. Some of the proposed trails in the loop are planned to be completed sooner than others, but you can already enjoy a similar loop by taking parallel roads.

To show how these trails connect to the rest of the City, we added some missing unpaved trails to the SFBC’s Connecting the City campaign.

What is your favorite Trail on Mt Sutro and why?

Interior Greenbelt, because it’s the route I usually take on my bike to get to the rest of the trails in the reserve.

Speed round - What is your favorite: Trail snack? Banana chips Movie? new Mad Max (and commentary from Place to bike? Bay Area Ridge Trail

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