We hope you will take some time to explore and find delight in the Heart of Our Home, San Francisco Bay. From all of us, to all of you, wishing you a healthy and happy holiday season. The Bay Savers at Save The Bay

We have just learned that the Environmental Protection Agency is preparing to give away its power to protect clean water and wetlands in San Francisco Bay and make it easier for Cargill Salt Co. to pave Redwood City salt ponds for luxury homes. President Trump’s Acting EPA Administrator, Andrew Wheeler, is preparing to declare that Redwood City salt ponds are not “Waters of the U.S.” protected by the Clean Water Act or Rivers and Harbors Act. This action surrenders federal government jurisdiction to regulate or permit development on that site, overturns decades of legal precedent and overrules previous protections supported by Bay Area EPA officials. In 2012, Redwood City refused to consider Cargill’s massive housing development project on the salt ponds site. The company and its developer partner, DMB Pacific Ventures then pressed federal agencies to waive their legal authority to regulate filling or developing the salt ponds. (see timeline below). Six years later, U.S. EPA Region 9 officials in San Francisco refused to grant the Cargill/DMB request, after conducting extensive research on the Redwood City ponds and reviewing legal precedents. But Andrew Wheeler has taken control of the company’s request and could complete the federal giveaway to Cargill and DMB with the stroke of a pen this week. Cargill should withdraw its request now, before the EPA waives federal jurisdiction over the site.
  • A Trump EPA finding of “no jurisdiction” will threaten San Francisco Bay water quality and wetlands and weaken the Clean Water Act.
  • A Trump EPA finding of “no jurisdiction” rewards a private developer’s political intervention to override environmental protection and public interest, setting a terrible precedent that others will repeat.
Colluding with the Trump Administration’s anti-environment agenda and attacking protections for San Francisco Bay will hurt Cargill and DMB’s Bay Area business – not help:
  • Cargill and DMB are alienating Redwood City and Bay Area residents, and elected officials, who would need to approve any development on the ponds.
  • Cargill and DMB are embracing and abetting the Trump Administration’s agenda to weaken the Clean Water Act and gut pollution regulations; that agenda is especially unpopular in the Bay Area and California.
If the EPA does waive federal authority to regulate these Bay salt ponds as Waters of the U.S., Cargill and DMB will still face many barriers to developing in the Bay:
  • California state laws protect water, wetlands, and the wildlife that currently use those ponds as critical habitat.
  • Redwood City zoning and land use designations prohibit development on those ponds.
  • Any development on the ponds would require significant changes in state and local laws and policies.
Hundreds of local, regional, state and federal leaders are on record over the last decade opposing development on Bay salt ponds, and California’s Governor and Legislature are on record opposing Trump Administration efforts to weaken the Clean Water Act. U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein told a Senate hearing on this topic in 2015, “I’m very concerned about this.  What makes our whole area is the bay, and we do not want it filled in.” At the same time, U.S. Representative Jackie Speier and 10 Members of Congress said, “Any novel, unilateral re-interpretation of the Clean Water Act must not be created in secret, without opportunity for public input, formal consultation with the EPA or Congressional approval.” Bay Area residents and all of our region’s federal, state and local leaders must demand that Cargill withdraw its request, and that the EPA continue to uphold the Clean Water Act’s legal protections for San Francisco Bay, including Redwood City salt ponds. ______________________________________________________________________________________________________ Timeline Cargill and its developer partner DMB Associates have been pressing federal agencies for this finding of “no jurisdiction” since 2012.
  • May 7, 2012 – Cargill/DMB withdraws Saltworks project from the Redwood City after city council committee recommends denying further consideration of the development application that had been pending for 3 years and was still incomplete. Cargill announces it will submit a revised project soon.
  • May 30, 2012 – Cargill/DMB asks the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. EPA for a final jurisdictional determination (JD) for the Redwood City salt ponds site, and asserts that the property should not be subject to either the Clean Water Act or Rivers and Harbors Act. The company’s novel legal theory asserts that water in the ponds is not wet.
  • February 2015 — 11 Bay Area Members of Congress, led by U.S. Representative Jackie Speier, wrote to the Army Corps of Engineers opposing relinquishing federal jurisdiction over the Redwood City salt ponds. Their letter noted that the ponds had previously been determined to be Waters of the United States, and warned that “any novel, unilateral re-interpretation of the Clean Water Act must not be created in secret, without opportunity for public input, formal consultation with the EPA or Congressional approval.”
  • March 18, 2015 – U.S. EPA Region 9 takes over the review of the Clean Water Act JD from U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as a “Special Case.” Region 9 proceeds to conduct legal, scientific, and site-specific research on the Redwood City ponds and prepare a JD.
  • September 13, 2016 – DMB requests a six-month pause by Region 9 in preparing the JD.
  • January 2017 – EPA Region 9 sends completed work and recommendation to adopt a final JD to EPA HQ Office of Legal Counsel, but JD is not processed before Trump Administration starts on January 20, 2017.
  • February 22, 2017 – DMB Pacific Ventures requests an additional six-month pause in its request for a JD.
  • March 30, 2018 — Before resigning in disgrace from the Trump cabinet, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt takes away authority for Clean Water Act Special Case JDs from EPA regional offices and assigns it instead to the EPA Administrator himself.
  • December 19, 2018 — Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler is preparing this week to waive federal regulations over Cargill’s Redwood City ponds, adopting the company’s unprecedented legal theory extinguishing Clean Water Act jurisdiction over its Redwood City ponds.
Learn more about Save The Bay’s historic battle with Cargill: Cargill’s 370-page attack on the Bay Cargill’s 370-page attack on the Bay-Part 2  

On a gorgeous December morning, alongside the Bay, we proudly unveiled our newest habitat restoration project during our second annual Solstice on the Shoreline, a special “behind-the-scenes” experience for our long-time supporters and friends. This time of year is notoriously known to be one of the busiest, but we believe this is the perfect time for people to escape the holiday pressure, reconnect with nature and to relish in the beauty that exists in the Heart of Our Home. It’s also an opportunity for our loyal donors to see their gifts in action and to truly know they are protecting and restoring San Francisco Bay. Our newest site at Ravenswood Pond R4 in Menlo Park, is an innovative collaboration with the California Coastal Conservancy and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that focuses on restoring over nine acres of transition zone habitat.  As part of this project, we opened our fifth native plant nursery facility, where our Habitat Restoration Team collects seeds and grows plants and other vegetative material in more than 40 raised beds. Here’s the fun part – our nursery is located at the West Bay Sanitary District – right next to a sewage treatment plant. This is yet the latest example of unlikely partnerships leading to real progress for the Bay. Our Solstice on the Shoreline guests were treated to a guided walking tour of the area before we put them to work! People of all ages and abilities rolled up their sleeves, constructed additional raised beds, hauled soil, and planted native seedlings.  In just a little more than an hour, our crew significantly advanced the work of the project, all while having a rejuvenating experience outside. It was no surprise that everyone left Solstice on the Shoreline with a smile and a renewed commitment to protecting this gorgeous natural treasure.  On behalf of all the staff and volunteers of Save The Bay, we want to thank everyone who gives back to protect and restore San Francisco Bay, and we wish you a peaceful and joyful holiday season. See you next year on the shoreline!

This month marks my one-year anniversary with Save The Bay as the Restoration Education Specialist. It has been a privilege working on protecting and restoring tidal marshes around the Bay through environmental education, habitat restoration and civic engagement with such a wonderful team. Looking back at this year, I am so proud of our Education Program’s accomplishments! Our education team has been working towards increasing access in our education programs. Many schools lack the funding and resources to participate in field trips, including environmental education programs. The two main barriers that inhibit many schools from joining our field trips are economic and linguistic challenges. Many schools cannot afford to spend money on field trips and transportation. One school bus can cost a school as much as $1,000 per bus! Not only are our field trips free, we also provide funds for bus transportation for schools that otherwise cannot afford it. Our team works hard to provide this opportunity for schools that qualify by engaging in targeted outreach. To address linguistic barriers, the habitat restoration team spends time in each of our meetings to learn and practice Spanish. We strive to communicate with Spanish speaking students and families. Furthermore, our education team has been working to provide Spanish and English in our instructions and on each visual that we use in our education program activities. While teaching, we use scaffolding techniques, such as hand motions and large visuals, to ensure students who are English language learners are able to engage and have fun. I love having students translate for us as it gives them leadership opportunities. We are in the final stages of editing our curriculum binder! This binder contains all of our program descriptions, activities, tricks and tips so that anyone, a volunteer, fellow or new staff member, can successfully lead a Community Based Restoration Education Program. We also have aligned many of our activities to Next Generation Science Standards. These Standards have been a wonderful tool in helping us figure out how to inspire students to become bay stewards and make connections to the bay and their everyday lives. NGSS combines science and engineering practices to encourage students to ask questions, experiment and be curious about the world and the community around them. We tailor our programs to fit each teacher’s learning objectives and educational needs. I am looking forward to this school season and thrilled to try new activities in the field! Come join us in the marsh by signing up for one of our student or volunteer programs!