Save The Bay is one of ten community-based conservation organizations that make up the Restore America’s Estuaries (RAE), a national alliance dedicated to the protection and restoration of bays and estuaries that stretches from Rhode Island to Washington State.

Every two years, RAE hosts an annual Summit to share knowledge around cutting-edge issues in coastal restoration and management. This year’s Summit, Investing in Our Coasts: Environment, Economy, and Culture, focused on the variety of benefits that coastal areas provide to communities and the nation, including ecological services, cultural services, and financial value.

We always leave with a wealth of knowledge and this year there were several important takeaways:

  1. The future belongs to the youth, and young professional scientists will be vital to solving many of the problematic environmental issues ahead of our nation.

One of the great takeaways from this conference was the rare opportunity for Save The Bay’s young professional scientists to attend a national science conference to share Save The Bay’s work and to learn from and see other young professionals leading in their fields.

  1. Climate change and its resulting impacts to both the natural and built environments are issues at the forefront of restoration science.

The focus on not only the science but the cultural impacts of climate change was a key element of this Summit, and we learned about the current state of the science in sea level rise, droughts, fires, including the nature of the threats and how other scientists are addressing these issues not only in natural systems but in their communities.

  1. Cultural competency, diversity, equity, and inclusion cannot be ignored and are critical areas of focus for all organizations.

Save The Bay continues to work to serve underrepresented and underserved communities through our education and restoration programs and in our Policy program through our Bay Smart Communities initiative.

  1. The RAE Summit is a collaborative environment where like-minded organizations share new research and practices that help restore America’s estuaries.

The event mobilizes scientists, nonprofit leaders, restoration managers, educators, volunteers and others who dedicate their time to habitat restoration. With more than 500 speakers, 110 sessions, workshops and training, and 150 poster presentations it was six days devoted to saving and protecting our nation’s coastal regions and estuaries.

We are proud to be a RAE member and at this year’s Summit Save The Bay’s Habitat Restoration Team:

  • Presented six oral presentations and a poster presentation to more than 1,000 attendees (for some it was their first-ever opportunity in a national public forum). These included:
    1. Raising the Funds: A New Agency, a Successful Tax Measure Campaign and Beyond
    2. How Will We Know When We Get There? Evaluating Metrics of Success in Transition Zone Restoration
    3. From Containers to Tractors: Looking to Farming for Large-Scale Native Plant Propagation Methods
    4. Winning Planting Recipe: Planting for Success at Oro Loma and Beyond
    5. Engaging and Empowering Environmental Stewards of the Future
    6. Scaling-up Volunteer Opportunities
    7. Farming for the Wetlands: Experimenting in Large-Scale Plant Propagation
  • Shared the progress and lessons learned through our corporate volunteer and education models.
  • Returned energized and excited to try new ideas and implement various lessons learned.

Learn more about the RAE Summit and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to hear more about our habitat restoration work.

Arrowhead Marsh, taken by Jim Moyers
Arrowhead Marsh, taken by Jim Moyers

I have loved salt marshes ever since I first stepped into one during a college wetlands class in Washington. I breathed in earthy scents. I felt mud squish beneath my boots. I watched birds fly low over the water. Now, the Bay wetlands nourish my spirit, and I am truly grateful they are the place I call home.

As the Habitat Restoration Director at Save The Bay, I am proud that my work leading volunteer and education programs can directly benefit nearby wildlife. Our efforts provide critical habitat for endangered species like the salt marsh harvest mouse. But we never lose sight of the big picture.

Restoration staff and volunteers working on the Oro Loma Project
Restoration staff and volunteers working on the Oro Loma Project

Recently, we collaborated with other scientists on the Oro Loma Horizontal Levee Project – an innovative levee that mimics wetland habitats. Our expert restoration team joined more than 5,000 Save The Bay volunteers to construct the site’s giant outdoor nursery and plant more than 70,000 native seedlings.

The potential benefits are profound, since wetland marshes act like sponges, soaking up water as it rises. If replicated, this horizontal levee model could provide extensive flood protection and create thousands of acres of habitat around San Francisco Bay.

Right now, our Bay faces a triple threat of pollution, sea-level rise and habitat loss. Scientists estimate it needs 100,000 acres of wetlands to be healthy and sustainable. Today, only 40,000 acres exist.

With help from our generous supporters, we can continue working with partners to make significant progress toward that 100,000 acre mark.

The Bay is the heart of my home. Together, we can protect this beautiful resource and all that it offers diverse communities, vibrant plants, and countless animals.

With sincere thanks,

Donna Ball
Habitat Restoration Director