Exciting news! Our Bay-Saving team can once again begin work at the Bel Marin Keys wetland restoration site in Novato.
Save The Bay began work at this site around a year and a half ago but flooding from a levee breach and heavy rainfall this past winter prevented our staff and volunteers from accessing the site. This opportunity is especially exciting because it is our first public volunteer venture into the North Bay in many years.
This restoration site is part of the larger Hamilton Wetlands Restoration Project funded by the California State Coastal Conservancy. Save The Bay is continuing this work with the Conservancy and other essential partners. Restoring the Bel Marin Keys is the next step in ensuring that this area is sustainable for countless species of birds, plants, and other organisms native to the Bay.
Both staff and volunteers will implement a farm-style approach to growing native plant species. We will clear invasive species around the farming rows and collect seeds to grow plants at the site. This work ensures that plant propagation is properly scaled for approximately 40 acres of seasonal wetland restoration.
This exciting collaboration with the California State Coastal Conservancy and other partners is crucial to the future of our Bay. Volunteers play a pivotal role in our restoration work. In helping us, you are helping restore a transition zone of seasonal wetlands–an area of dense vegetation inhabited by many animal species. Transition zones act as a buffer between the water they thrive in and the shore on the other side that remains threatened by progressing sea level rise. You will also learn about the importance of wetlands in our Bay from our knowledgeable staff.
Restoring areas like Bel Marin Keys not only helps restore the habitats of countless plant and animal species but also combats increasing sea level rise. Homes that sit along the shorelines in areas vulnerable to rising tides benefit from the buffering that wetlands. Plants in marsh areas slow down the movement of water by acting as an effective barrier, breaking powerful shoreline waves and protecting both people and wildlife.
The North Bay is an excellent area for recreational activities such as hiking, biking, and fishing. Wetland restoration ensures that more people can enjoy this beautiful Bay and all that it has to offer. The Bel Marin Keys wetlands deserve protection, restoration, and, most importantly, your help.
Join us on June 1st and 15th for this incredible opportunity or contribute in any way you can.
Jeff loves the sense of purpose Save The Bay programs provides his classes as they connect with local wetlands. “There’s always a goal for each day – mulch this section, remove this invasive plant.” Jeff says the hands-on activities truly stick. “I’m always thrilled at how much they remember trip to trip – details about estuaries and watersheds.”
Trash is just one topic his students mull over long after they’ve helped clean up the shoreline. “When they see that a lot of that is food wrappers from sewers – it stays with them. Plus, I can take that and go off on a tangent about harmful plastic!”
Jeff, meanwhile, is planning a trip somewhere tropical. “My wife just got her scuba diving certification, so I want to take her somewhere warm for her first dive!”
We’re wishing Jeff, his wife, and our caring community a safe and happy New Year.
P.S. Save The Bay and Alaska Airlines have teamed up to make your vacation dreams a reality this holiday season. When you donate at least $250*, you’ll be automatically entered into a drawing to win fourround-trip airline tickets to anywhere they fly! Your generous support will help us meet our $100,000 goal and protect the Bay we love. Thank you.
From the ancient Egyptians to the Ohlone living here in the Bay Area, many cultures experience winter as a powerful time of ritual, reflection, and renewal. The season officially begins Thursday, December 21st – with a solstice! The term translates to “sun stands still,” as the sun appears to pause in its incremental journey across the sky.
Save The Bay decided to mark this changing of the seasons by planting seedlings with some of our most dedicated volunteers and donors. Through their labor and their generosity, this diverse community had already given richly to support our programs. But on last Saturday’s Solstice on the Shoreline event, they dug right into soil to help out even more. Former board members joined avid gardeners and corporate partners to put on gloves, pick up trowels, and protect our Bay.
Along the way, Donna Ball and Kenneth Rangel of our Restoration team explained how our staff cleans seeds and sanitizes soil using somewhat simple tools. They made clear these tasks can be both intricate and time-consuming without advanced technology. However, as we build the support necessary to cover this equipment, Save The Bay staffers remain plenty resourceful in their push to create habitat.
Meanwhile, high winds and incredibly hard ground never phased our passionate participants last weekend. Our restoration staff used an auger – a drill bit that can create holes in the ground – to start each of our planting spots. Then, our lively group got to work (sometimes wielding pickaxes!). In the end, we carved a warm bed to lay the young seedlings.
Building community to share Save The Bay’s story is a key part of my role as Events & Outreach Manager. I’m thrilled that the events I design and host can genuinely boost the health of San Francisco Bay. Witnessing that “A-ha” moment on a volunteer’s face as they begin to understand their own role in protecting our Bay is incredibly rewarding. After all, my own positive experiences as a student and educator are a major source of inspiration as I work to connect – and expand – Save The Bay’s community.
Save The Bay is a resource for learning, scientific exploration, rejuvenation, and above all, making memories. With the hustle and bustle of the holidays, I encourage you to take a moment to breathe in the Bay air, take a calming walk along its shores and rejuvenate your soul. We are ready to start building a year’s worth of amazing events and gatherings for 2018. I look forward to seeing you at Blue, our Bay Brunch Cruise on Earth Day (April 22, 2018), and Bay Day, our region-wide celebration for San Francisco Bay, on October 6, 2018.
You and your family can also join one of our public programs for free throughout the year. Save The Bay relies on thousands of volunteers annually to make progress on our many wetland restoration projects. Check our calendar often as spaces fill quickly. We can also create dedicated private restoration events for your group or company. Contact Jack Wolfink at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
The 2017 State of the San Francisco Estuary Conference, held recently in Oakland, gave scientists, land managers, policy makers, community leaders, as well as writers and artists from across the Bay-Delta region an opportunity to connect with one another, and to build connections between their various fields. Throughout the conference, attendees were welcomed to “get out of their silos,” and explore the interrelatedness of their fields. The conference also provided a venue to look back at the past 20 years of tidal marsh restoration; to celebrate successes, evaluate where we fell short, and anticipate future challenges and opportunities for restoring San Francisco Bay.
Looking Back, Looking Forward
This years State of the Estuary coincided with a number of milestones for many tidal marsh restoration projects in the Bay Area. Michelle Orr of ESA and Eric Joliffe of USACE presented on their decades long monitoring of the Sonoma Baylands Restoration project, which recently celebrated its 20th anniversary. Initiated in 1996, the Sonoma Baylands constitutes 300 acres of deeply subsided agricultural baylands, and is one of the first tidal marsh restoration projects in the Bay Area to utilize beneficial reuse of dredged material to help bring the baylands up to marsh plane to re-establish pickleweed, the dominant marsh plant in our area. In 2014, the project finally met their success criteria of 65% native plant cover, mostly due to the successful establishment of native pickleweed and cordgrass. The project is already providing value for the endangered species that call San Francisco Bay home. In 2016, scientists detected 19 Ridgeways Rails utilizing the newly formed marshes of Sonoma Baylands, showing that this endangered species has the capacity to recover so long as we are able to restore their habitat.
Another project that has reached an important milestone is the South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project. The largest tidal restoration project on the West Coast, this ambitious project aims to restore over 15,000 acres of former industrial salt ponds in the South Bay back to historic tidal wetlands. The project recently celebrated the end of Phase 1 of the project, which aimed to restore 10% of the project area to tidal wetlands while experimenting with novel restoration and management practices.
Since the first levees were breached in 2006, scientists have found that a number of wildlife species, such as Salt Marsh Harvest Mice, Ridgeways Rails, and Harbor Seals have greatly benefited from the increased availability of marsh habitat. In addition, the number of migratory waterbirds visiting these areas has doubled between 2002 and 2014! They are also finding that these salt ponds are returning to tidal marshes at a faster than anticipated rate, even though the amount of suspended sediment in the South Bay has declined in recent years. This sediment is vitally important to marsh growth, as the build up of mud over time allows marsh plants to establish in newly restored areas. These lessons learned will be invaluable as the project advances to Phase 2, where work to restore tidal marsh will accelerate to cover 50% of the project area.
While celebrating the successes of the past, many speakers also brought up the challenges that our tidal wetlands will face in the future. Accelerating sea level rise, decreased sediment entering into the bay, and changing levels of salinity will all impact the health of the bay and jeopardize our capacity to successfully restore 100,000 acres of tidal marshes as necessitated in the Baylands Ecosystem Habitat Goals.
The Delta and our local creeks have historically supplied the Bay with much needed sediment to replenish our marshes with changing sea levels. This supply of sediment has dwindled in the past century as water policy shifted towards the large scale damming of upstream rivers, trapping sediment upstream and starving the Bay of much needed mud and clay. Scientists estimate that without changes in how we manage this valuable but often overlooked resource, our baylands just won’t be able to keep up with sea level rise.
Although our marshes have been resilient to sea level rise historically, the rate of sea level rise is expected to accelerate in the coming decades: by 2100, scientists predict that the worlds oceans will rise by 3.5 feet! Almost all of our highways, ports, and airports will need to be upgraded to adapt to this drastic rise in sea level.
Sea level rise in particular has the potential to disproportionately impact low-income communities of color. Many Bay Area communities, from West Oakland and Richmond, to East Palo Alto, are situated close to the shoreline and are most at risk to displacement and gentrification due to sea level rise. Doria Robinson of Urban Tilth spoke for the need to involve these fenceline communities in every step of the wetland restoration process: from leading the design process, to employing members of the community to implement these projects. Equity for communities of color needs to be the foundation of all of our work.
A major theme of this years conference was partnerships. Without the expertise and collaboration of multiple partners, the projects that we need to complete in order to protect our wetlands could never get off the ground. One such project is the Oro Loma Sanitary District Experimental Horizontal Levee, an innovative, multi-partner project that aims to protect our bayside infrastructure from the threat of rising seas.
Unlike a conventional, steeply sloped levee, a horizontal levee is built with a gentle slope and planted with native vegetation, giving marshes space to migrate upward and escape the rising seas. These levees are designed to protect coastal communities and bayside infrastructure from storm surges by absorbing floodwaters. They also have the added benefit of providing wildlife habitat, especially in urbanized areas where marshes lack the space to migrate without running into infrastructure such as roads and highways. The Oro Loma project will protect the aging Oro Loma wastewater treatment and purification plant from extreme storms, provide wildlife habitat and provide a model for adapting critical infrastructure to sea level rise. In addition, scientists are also studying how this project will reduce harmful bacteria, excess nutrients, heavy metals, and pharmaceuticals from entering into the Bay!
The Oro Loma project was one of six groundbreaking projects from across the Bay and Delta to be awarded the 2017 Outstanding Environmental Project Award. This award was granted to Save The Bay along with our partners at the Oro Loma Sanitary District, UC Berkeley, Environmental Science Associates, Coastal Ecologist Peter Baye, The San Francisco Estuary Partnership and The Bay Institute. We are incredibly proud of the work our staff and partners have done on this forward-thinking project.
Protecting San Francisco Bay from the twin threats of Climate Change and Sea Level Rise are daunting, existential challenges. The path towards a healthy San Francisco Bay-Delta Estuary is murky, uncertain, and full of challenges. With so many different agencies, organizations, scientists, planners, economists, and policymakers gathered together united in their mission to protect our estuary, that path forward is becoming more and more clear.
It’s almost Halloween! What better way to get into the holiday spirit than to discuss those critters that seek to disturb and horrify us. These are four species that can be found around San Francisco Bay that are noteworthy either due to their appalling eating habitats, by their grotesque appearance, or a combination thereof:
Red-Backed Jumping Spiders
Just as one does not simply walk into Mordor, one does not simply talk about the creepy crawlies without mentioning spiders. When most people think of Halloween spiders, black widows and tarantulas typically come to mind. Even though both can be found in the Bay Area, we instead will be talking about the red-backed jumping spider, or Phidippus johnsoni. This is a small jumping spider that is about a centimeter long. Its most notable feature is its bright red abdomen. Though the red-backed jumping spider may look terrifying, it is harmless to humans. The coloration acts as a disguise. The spiders mimic wasps called velvet ants in order to deter potential predators.
Saltmarsh dodders (Cuscuta spp.) are a genus of native herbaceous plants. However, unlike most other plants, they aren’t green, don’t have leaves and don’t photosynthesize. Instead, dodder is a holometabolous parasite, meaning that it must rely on a host plant from which to obtain all of its nutrients. Dodders are easily identifiable by their orange coloration and threadlike stems that cover the surfaces of host species. They produce white flowers in the summer months.
The Atlantic Oyster Drill (Urosalpinx cinerea) is a small predatory marine snail measuring only 20-35 mm long. A snail you say? How bad can that be? However, these little guys make up for their small stature with a voracious appetite. As the name suggests, they primarily prey on other mollusks and do so in a gruesome fashion. They use a specialized appendage called a radula to bore a hole in the shell of an unsuspecting mussel or clam. Once they finish, they then proceed to slurp the soft insides out through the hole, leaving only the shell behind!
Vultures are another Halloween staple. A common species found throughout much the United States is the ever-present turkey vulture (Cathartes aura). Chances are good you’ve seen a few circling overhead while driving on the freeway. Turkey vultures are scavengers and feed on carrion, or decaying flesh. Adult turkey vultures have an excellent sense of smell, allowing them to hone in on fresh roadkill, which they then regurgitate for their hungry brood. Still want that Halloween candy? I didn’t think so.
San Francisco Bay is home to more than 7 million people and is the largest, most valuable estuary on the West Coast. Facebook’s headquarters is located right on the Bay’s beautiful shoreline, and the company has shown its commitment to protecting local habitat and ecosystems —from the innovative 9-acre green roof at its Menlo Park campus to its broader efforts in the Bay Area.
By sponsoring Bay Day 2017, Facebook is helping people all around the Bay celebrate its iconic role in our community, and inspiring us all to better protect this shared natural wonder. Bay Dayis San Francisco Bay’s new regional Earth Day. This Bay Day – Saturday, October 7th – is an opportunity to inspire positive environmental actions by connecting communities with immersive, Bay-themed educational and recreational activities.
At Save The Bay, Facebook’s platforms are vital to everything we do, from spreading the word about the Bay-spanning events this Bay Day to engaging citizens with our vision of a clean and healthy Bay.
This Saturday, October 7th, Facebook’s sponsorship is supporting volunteer restoration events in Redwood City and Palo Alto, and a total of 70 community events around the Bay. And for people and families who can’t make it to one of these public celebrations – Facebook helped us launch My Bay Day Adventure Guide, an interactive, online guide to experience Bay Day from your mobile device. I love how the My Bay Day experience helps people to discover the Bay in a new way, through each of our senses, and hope you and your family enjoy it too.
Save The Bay is proud of our partnership with Facebook, and we are grateful for all the company does to protect San Francisco Bay and the communities that call the area home. Together, we can ensure a healthy and resilient Bay for generations to come.
My introduction to estuarine and wetland conservation began in high school while slithering on my belly through cordgrass marshes on the mudflats, counting fiddler crabs while participating in an environmental education program on the Chesapeake Bay.
It was there that I gained an appreciation for estuarine environments, and learned the ecological value of estuarine and wetland habitats, and the need for conservation and stewardship of these unique habitats.
I am so pleased to have the opportunity to join Save The Bay as their new Restoration Program Manager. It is an honor to follow in the footsteps of environmental conservation heroines Esther Gulick, Sylvia McLaughlin, and Kay Kerr who created a lasting legacy for San Francisco Bay. I believe that my new position with Save The Bay perfectly marries my early career experience in environmental education and environmental advocacy, with my years of professional work as an estuarine ecologist, conservation biologist and wetland restoration practitioner on the San Francisco Bay.
The focus of my early career was in coastal and marine ecology, environmental education and volunteer coordination. After some years working on the coast and in the Bay as an educator, I decided to further my own education and pursue my interests in wetland and estuarine ecology and habitat conservation in graduate school.
When deciding on the focus of my graduate school studies, the San Francisco Estuary had been declared as one of the most invaded estuaries in the nation. Invasive non-native species in the Bay were a growing threat to the health of the Bay ecosystem. Given my passion for protecting the coastal and estuarine ecosystems that I cherished, my keen interest to expand on my knowledge and my life goal to actively contribute to the cause of conserving and restoring the San Francisco Bay, I developed a graduate school research project that involved monitoring the spread and control of invasive non-native cordgrass (Spartina spp.) into a newly-opened restoration site.
My graduate research project evolved into a career as the Monitoring Program Manager and eventually the Restoration Program Manager with the Invasive Spartina Project. I started a field-based monitoring program, surveying the extent of San Francisco Bay and the outer coast marshes for five species of non-native cordgrass. The monitoring program introduced me to an incredible network of marshes around the Bay. I surveyed by foot, by bike, by kayak and boat. I learned how to access shoreline and coordinated with land owners and introduced them to the threat of invasive cordgrass.
My years surveying the Bay provided me with many unique experiences and adventures. I surveyed the expansive strip marshes and mudflats of San Pablo Bay National Wildlife. I got to know how to best access the marshes around the Bay, making the most of the miles of shoreline trails provided by numerous landowners including East Bay Regional Parks where I surveyed miles of shoreline from Pt. Pinole to Hayward. It was always a highlight when I surveyed by kayak. I was fully cognizant of the special opportunity I had to kayak the sloughs in and around Bair and Greco Islands. Even driving access was an adventure as I learned to navigate driving the levees in and around the evolving Eden Landing Ecological Reserve and South Bay Salt Pond Complex.
In the process of surveying the Bay, developing the ISP Monitoring and Restoration Programs, I worked and collaborated with remarkable community of land owners, managers, stakeholders, researchers, environmental advocates and regulators. I built an incredible network of colleagues and friends, all of whom were committed to the cause of protecting and restoring the health of the San Francisco Bay Estuary. I take great pride in having the opportunity to work with such an incredibly committed community of conservationists here in the Bay Area.
I’ve always enjoyed contributing and volunteering in my own backyard, or watershed, working with local conservationists. With the intention of working locally to acquire, protect and restore local ecologically significant wetland habitat, I joined the Board of the Bowen Island Conservancy while living in British Columbia, and then Marin Audubon Society when I returned to the Bay Area.
As the Save The Bay Restoration Program Manager I am so pleased to be able to continue to collaborate and work with existing partners, wetland restoration practitioners, and to join the committed team of Bay and wetland stewards, environmental educators, advocates and policy makers at Save The Bay.
“I’ve always had a love of nature, but my work at Save The Bay introduced me to the wonder of wetlands, which were off my radar before.”
A native of Marin County, Seth Chanin grew up just a block away from San Francisco Bay. As a kid, this former Save The Bay staffer spent weekends roaming the beach, kayaking the Bay, and biking rugged hillsides. As an adult? Nothing’s changed for Seth. “Water really is a place of reflection, of solace for me.”
It’s why Seth spent his college years studying Environmental Science and Economics, the ideal combo for a self-described “business hippie.” Yet, Seth says it was his former role as Save The Bay’s Habitat Restoration Program Manager that inspired him to “always look at the landscape through ecologist’s glasses – understanding that we have increasing human populations, increasing demands on the land, and new challenges posed by climate change.”
Now, as Autodesk’s Employee Impact Engagement Manager, he seeks volunteer opportunities for his colleagues that are bound to spark a “high-impact experience.” Seth hopes these volunteer events “will open their eyes to important work being done in their communities, so they come back and do skill-based and pro bono volunteering with organizations like Save The Bay.”
Measure AA is accelerating Bay marsh restoration – realizing a vision Save The Bay first had more than a decade ago.
On April 11, the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority voted to spend the first tax receipts from the nine-county ballot measure Bay Area voters overwhelmingly approved in June 2016. The first nine recommended project grants invest $23.5 million to restore tidal marsh habitat for wildlife around the Bay. Many of these projects also will provide trails and other public recreation, and help protect shoreline communities against flooding.
The Authority received a lot of proposals to fund restoration projects. “There was twice as much money requested as was available. There’s a lot of demand,” Save The Bay Executive Director Lewis told The Mercury News.