FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – September 24, 2019

Redwood City, CA—Save The Bay, San Francisco Baykeeper, Committee for Green Foothills, and Citizens’ Committee to Complete the Refuge joined together today to protect San Francisco Bay by filing a critical lawsuit against the Trump Administration’s Environmental Protection Agency. The lawsuit seeks to overturn EPA’s recent arbitrary decision that the Redwood City Salt Ponds along the shoreline of San Francisco Bay are not protected by the Clean Water Act.

The suit alleges EPA violated the law by determining the Salt Ponds are not “waters of the United States” and removing them from legal protection.

The Salt Ponds, like other wetlands around the Bay, deserve protection and are an integral part of the Bay Area’s ecosystem.

The environmental organizations are asking the United States District Court in San Francisco to “reject EPA’s complete abdication of its duty to regulate the Salt Ponds under the Clean Water Act.” The lawsuit highlights the importance of the Salt Ponds in providing habitat for fish, birds, and other wildlife, as well as the educational and recreational opportunities they provide for the people in the community. The Salt Ponds are also critical to protecting the Bay’s water quality and mitigating the impacts of sea level rise.

“The Salt Ponds and other San Francisco Bay wetlands and water deserve continued federal legal protection against pollution and development,” said Save The Bay Executive Director David Lewis. “We won’t let the Trump Administration invite developers to pave the Bay.”

The Salt Ponds have been owned and operated by Cargill, Inc. and its affiliates since 1978. They constitute one of the last remaining undeveloped areas along the San Francisco Bay’s shoreline. For over a decade, Cargill and its developer partner DMB Associates have sought to build on the Salt Ponds. In 2012, the companies withdrew a proposal to build over 12,000 homes and thousands of square feet of commercial buildings on the ponds due to intense opposition from the local community.

“We’re not going to stand by while Cargill uses the Trump administration’s eagerness to gut our environmental laws for its own economic advantage,” said Megan Fluke, Executive Director of Committee for Green Foothills. “The salt ponds are part of the Bay. Development here would not only destroy restorable natural resources, it would put homes and businesses in the path of sea level rise, on an earthquake liquefaction site, and next to heavy industry.”

“EPA’s decision to classify the salt ponds as ‘land’ instead of water is absurd and illegal,” said Sejal Choksi-Chugh, Executive Director of San Francisco Baykeeper. “It’s a thinly veiled scheme by the Trump Administration to allow the Cargill Corporation to destroy the Bay for profit, without worrying about Clean Water Act safeguards.”

EPA “determined the vast majority of the surface waters located at the Site are not subject to the Clean Water Act’s protections, effectively authorizing their pollution or destruction,” according to the lawsuit.

“Through the efforts of Citizens Committee to Complete the Refuge and others, Congress has authorized the potential expansion of the Don Edwards National Wildlife Refuge to include the Salt Ponds because they have significant conservation and wildlife values,” stated Gail Raabe, Co-Chair of CCCR. “We find it indefensible that the Trump Administration has removed federal Clean Water Act protection over those same ponds, flying in the face of decades of critically important regulatory protection.”

The lawsuit alleges that the Trump Administration’s EPA, previously headed by Scott Pruitt, and now Andrew Wheeler, has systematically worked to decrease protection of the nation’s water under the Clean Water Act. The Plaintiffs are represented by Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy, headquartered in Burlingame, and Earthrise Law Center, based at the Lewis and Clark Law School.
The lawsuit seeks a declaration that EPA’s negative jurisdictional determination was arbitrary and capricious, contrary to the Clean Water Act, and lacked substantial evidence to support the findings, under the Administrative Procedure Act.

According to Joe Cotchett, lead attorney at Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy: “This is one more Trump attack on our environment, as EPA puts the profits of big businesses like Cargill ahead of the good of the country.”

According to the litigation, the EPA wholly ignored its own legal and environmental experts in reaching an unlawful determination. “EPA’s own exhaustive study of these ponds in 2016 appears to have been completely ignored by political decision makers in Washington, DC. They provided extensive scientific and legal analysis demonstrating the Salt Ponds are waters of the United States,” according to Attorney Nazy Fahimi of Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy.

“EPA’s decision sets a dangerous legal precedent for waters across the United States,” said Allison LaPlante, an attorney at Earthrise Law Center. “If the San Francisco Bay salt ponds are not waters, then waterbodies across the country are at risk of losing vital protections under the Clean Water Act.”

“The Salt Ponds are a vital part of the health of the entire Bay Area ecosystem,” said Eric Buescher, an attorney at Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy. “This is just one fight against the abdication of environmental protection occurring on a daily basis throughout the United States. It is a fight that our clients are waging every day and that requires the support and involvement of the entire community to win.”

Former Congressman and founder of Earth Day, Pete McCloskey, an attorney at Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy, stated “this fight is vital to protecting the San Francisco Bay from money grabs by wealthy developers. Protecting these lands are vital to preventing the natural resources of the Bay from being destroyed.”

If you’re ready to see the Bay from a new perspective, regardless of whether it’s your first time or your fiftieth, we’ve got five hikes you won’t want to miss. Our Bay-Saving team has curated a list that will take you to dazzling vistas, fields of flowers and trails lined with treetop canopies and wildlife. Get out for a hike and share your images with us @savesfbay.

Mount Tamalpais is in the heart of Marin County, and its trails are endless. If you’re feeling adventurous, consider the 15.4-mile hike from Stinson Beach to the 2,571-foot peak. On a clear day, you can see the Farallon Islands, Marin County hills, San Francisco Bay, East Bay and Mount Diablo.
Lands End is one of the great coastal trails along the northwestern corner of San Francisco. This 3.5-mile loop has magnificent views across 30 miles of coastline where you’ll see green hills, wildflowers, shipwrecks, Sutro Bath ruins and the Golden Gate Bridge.
Claremont Canyon Regional Preserve offers breathtaking views from the East to the West. Nestled in the Berkeley hills, you can stroll through towering trees and native flora and fauna along the Strawberry Canyon Fire Trail. Consider a picnic dinner and enjoy the sunset.
Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge spans 30,000 acres and is an oasis for millions of migratory birds and endangered species. Hit the visitor’s center and choose your trail, whether you want to stroll through a butterfly garden, walk the boardwalk over the marsh, or hike and bike along the levee, there’s something for everyone.
Mountain View Cemetery may not be at the top of your list, but it’s a beautiful garden cemetery in the foothills of Oakland with expansive views and serene spaces with fountains and lush landscapes. Designed by Frederick Olmsted, it is the resting place of many famous personalities including Julia Morgan, Samuel Merritt, Lydia Flood Jackson, Anthony Chabot and Kate Carew.

We are thrilled to announce that we have a new website that showcases our work to protect and restore San Francisco Bay for people and wildlife.

What’s changed? A lot. We have re-built from the ground up with bold colors, new content, a mobile-friendly platform, and fun illustrations like this little fella here (we call him Melvin).

You can explore the new site in a fun and interactive way by joining us for a week-long Scavenger Hunt Contest starting February 4 through February 8. We will have daily clues and winners so stay tuned.

Here’s how it works:

  • Each day we will share a question or clue on our blog and via Facebook.
  • Send us the correct answer via email or by posting the answer as a comment on Facebook.
  • The first two people to answer correctly will win a Save The Bay t-shirt (see rules/regulations*).

Visit our new site. Get Inspired. Be a part of our Bay-Saving Community!

Let the Scavenger Hunt Begin!

We couldn’t have accomplished this project without The David and Lucile Packard Foundation and The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. A huge thanks to our incredible Web Development team at Citizen Best. We are forever grateful for their creative vision, support and perseverance.

*Please read official rules and regulations.

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

In March of this year, the SF Bay Water Quality Control Board asked their staff to bring back an enforcement order against Caltrans for the agency’s multi-year failure to clean trash from Bay Area highways before it pollutes local creeks and the Bay. Despite this clear and urgent direction, an enforcement order has yet to be presented. That’s why close to 80 local elected officials sent a letter to the Board last week urging them to take action immediately and demand cleaner highways for our region and the Bay.


This dynamic duo joined Save The Bay in 2008 ready to dig in and help our team restore San Francisco Bay. From early morning commutes and all staff planting days, to nursery programs and trash cleanups, Fuego and Red are at the heart of the Save The Bay Family.

Meet Fuego

Fuego is known as the truck with the big personality. She enjoys throwback hits from the 90’s and playing jokes on Save The Bay’s Habitat Restoration Team! Her favorite prank is taking control of the radio’s volume. If the team wants to listen to music, she will crank up the tunes to start her own little party. Fuego also likes to keep the team on their toes when it comes to her AC, which only works on low or hurricane strength.It is never a dull moment when you get to work with Fuego! Besides her silly side, Fuego has a passion for educating the public and inspiring the next generation of Bay Savers. Her favorite work days are spent helping the restoration team run public volunteer programs. Fuego loves to meet new people and teach them about how they can give back to the Bay she loves.

Meet Red

The other half of our duo is Red. She loves power lifting, off roading, and likes to live life on the edge (of the Bay). Red doesn’t mind getting down and dirty for a good cause like restoring tidal marshes. Unlike her playful counterpart, Red prefers a peaceful morning commute with the team listening to NPR. But don’t be fooled, she loves to give the team a good surprise by unexpectedly popping her hood sometimes! Red takes her work with Save The Bay very seriously. She likes to spend her days in the nurseries doing the heavy lifting of water, plants, and tools that the team needs to build up wetlands.

Over the last ten years these two workhorses have helped our team transplant over 400,000 plants and have driven roughly 240,000 miles across the region! But this hard work has taken a toll on our beloved family members. We need your help because the wheel bearings wear out on the trucks due to our proximity to the salty bay, the heavy loads we haul, and the pothole ridden freeway 880.

Join us this Giving Tuesday, November 27, as we work to raise $15,000 or more toward a new Restoration Truck!

Measure W helps reduce Bay Area traffic

Those who commute in San Mateo County know how bad the traffic is. If you’ve driven through the 101-92 interchange recently, you know something needs to be done to relieve congestion and improve commute time. To achieve this, we must not only fund highway projects, but also enhance public transit options, support alternative modes of transportation, and connect high-quality transit to affordable housing.

Measure W will do just that by raising $2.4 billion over 30 years for projects that will take thousands of cars off of highways every day, fix potholes and maintain streets throughout the County, and make it safer to travel to schools and employment centers by bike and on foot.

Photo courtesy of No on Prop 6

Improvements and upgrades to Bay Area roads and public transit are decades overdue. Not only does this outdated, inefficient, and crumbling infrastructure impact our daily lives—especially for those traveling from the outskirts of our region—it threatens the health of the Bay.

We need to invest in our transportation infrastructure to protect the Bay and improve quality of life in our region. But Proposition 6 will do the opposite by eliminating more than $700 million in statewide investments in public transit, road and bridge repairs, and initiatives to increase bicycle and pedestrian mobility.

Vote for the Bay this November

YOU can keep fish, birds, and Bay Area communities safe as sea levels rise. YOU can make sure our tap water is truly safe to drink. YOU can slash greenhouse gas emissions and improve public transit across the region. All you have to do is VOTE!

But with so much on the November ballot, where should you begin? Right here! Below you’ll find all the information you need to shape San Francisco Bay’s future – right from the ballot box.

Facebook employees volunteer on the shoreline

Every year, Facebook gives hundreds of their interns the chance to leave their laptops behind and make a difference outdoors, along the Bay.

“People need that connection with the Earth,” says Lauren Swezey. “When I’ve been inside all day, and then I take a step outdoors and inhale, exhale… I can feel my mood changing.”

As Sustainability and Community Outreach Manager, Lauren forms partnerships with environmental organizations like Save The Bay. “It’s important for us to pass a healthy Bay on to our kids and grandkids. The next generations are what drive me to improve our environment, to get others passionate about renewable energy, sustainable homes, and the natural world.”