5 Things You Can Do For the Bay This Earth Day

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Saving San Francisco Bay and our planet can feel daunting. We know how you feel, but inspiration is always around the corner (and in this blog!). Earth Day is this Saturday, April 22, and to celebrate we’ve put together 5 easy, worthwhile things you can do for our planet and our Bay.

1. Participate in the March for Science and People’s Climate March

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Resist, stand up and put on your walking shoes!  Have a poster making gathering with your friends and march alongside thousands of scientists and eco-warriors at the March for Science on Earth Day, Saturday, April 22, and the People’s Climate March on Saturday, April 29.  We’d love to see your rally cries, so don’t forget to include the hashtag #savesfbay in your social media posts!

2. Be a year-round Bay saver

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Want to make a lasting commitment to our local environment AND get a cool Save The Bay t-shirt in time for the People’s Climate March? Become a Bay Sustainer today and support our work each month! Bay Sustainers are some of our most important donors. Your reliable monthly donation gives us the stability to plan for the future and ability to tackle urgent challenges to our local environment.

3. Volunteer with Save The Bay

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Put on your hat, grab your gardening gloves, and prepare for a marvelous day with Save The Bay’s restoration team.  Sign up to volunteer at one of our wetland restoration events and help restore our shoreline. Healthy Bay wetlands not only improve the Bay’s water quality, but they also protect Bay Area communities from rising seas.

4. Inspire others – share your SF Bay photos on social media using #MyBayPhoto

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From images of King Tides and trash in our waterways to pictures of people walking on the Bay Trail and soaking in the Bay views, we know first-hand that your Bay photos have the power to move and motivate people to create a cleaner, healthier San Francisco Bay. Help us spread the word! Next time you take a photo of the Bay, please share it with us on social media by tagging
#MyBayPhoto.

5. Tell-a-Friend about STB and help expand our conservation conscious community

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We depend on the Bay as much as the Bay depends on us to stay informed, ask questions, and take actions that help keep it thriving for years to come. Tell 5 friends about our work and ask them to subscribe to our emails. Sharing is caring!

Your support is one of reasons we have a beautiful Bay. Together we can make it cleaner and healthier for nature and people, keeping it vibrant long into the future. So, thank you in advance for your get-up-and-go and do-good determination.

Wishing you a happy and healthy Earth Day!

An Earth Day Present for Scott Pruitt

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Back in February America’s newest EPA
Administrator Scott Pruitt famously said on CNBC’s Squawk Box,

I think that measuring with precision human activity on the climate
is something very challenging to do and there’s tremendous disagreement
about the degree of impact, so no, I would not agree that [carbon dioxide]
is a primary contributor to the global warming that we see.”

This statement is not only alarming, but it also discredits the climate research conducted by the nation’s top organizations including the EPA, NASA, and NOAA, all of which agree that carbon dioxide emissions are a key driver of climate change.

It was painfully clear that Pruitt forgot to do his science homework and was desperately in need of some help. So, we decided purchase a copy of Global Warming for Dummies and even asked hundreds of Save The Bay supporters to sign the book.

Thanks to you we’re now ready to ship a copy to Washington D.C. just in time for Earth Day so Pruitt can study up and faithfully execute his core duty as EPA Administrator: make America green again.

We hope you enjoy your present, Scott!

Alleviate your wildflower FOMO by the Bay

Carrizo Plain National Monument! Anza Borrego Desert State Park! Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve State National Reserve! Even a Nursery Manager can lose hours in envy, glazing over thousands of seasonal wildflower photos shared on social media. Without the time or means, it can be easy to feel FOMO (fear of missing out) during this extraordinary drought-free year, but our Bay is also home to numerous show-stopping wildflower species that are benefiting from the rain as well.

At Save The Bay’s nurseries, we grow several native species whose flowers are worth seeking out on your exploratory hikes around the Bay. Here are some of my favorite native Bay flowers that are in full bloom now:

Blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium bellum)


Eye-catching and charismatic, blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium bellum) is found in various plant communities all over California. This blue to purple-flowered perennial is yet another native species with a deceptive common name – it is actually not a grass, but is more closely related to the iris.

Sticky Monkey Flower (Mimulus aurantiacus)

In showy bloom all over our restoration sites is sticky monkey flower (Mimulus aurantiacus), a native shrub species beloved by pollinators and human wildflower enthusiasts alike. Though I like to joke that their blooms are a shade of orange alarmingly close in color to Mac & Cheese, I always appreciate its joyful presence. Sticky monkey flower is extremely drought tolerant, but seems to be appreciating the deep-root watering it received this year. It’s also popular with local pollinators, including bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.

California Melic Grass (Melica Californica)

Let us not forget the unassuming inflorescences of some of our native grass species – I know that I am not alone in my love for a remnant coastal prairie. My personal favorite is California melic grass (Melica californica) with its jewel-like, burgundy striped florets.

Purple Needle Grass (Stipa pulchra)


Another beloved species grown in Save The Bay’s nurseries is purple needle grass (Stipa pulchra). This common perennial bunchgrass is not only stunning when viewed in its native plant communities, but it was also crowned our official State grass in 2004. You can spot this grassland species at beautiful Bayfront parks like Coyote Hills Regional Park in Hayward and the Presidio Coastal Bluffs in San Francisco.

California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica)

It wouldn’t be a wildflower report without a shout out to the ubiquitous California poppy (Eschscholzia californica) – our state flower. The genus of this species was named after the German botanist Johann Friedrich von Eschscholtz. I recommend spending a minute longer closely studying the poppy this year – it is a remarkably beautiful flower.

But wait, there’s more!

Marsh gumplantEarly spring wildflowers aren’t the only celebrities of our restoration sites! Many species bloom in the summer and fall, providing color to the transition zone and a food source for our animal and insect neighbors during the drier months. I particularly look forward to the cotton candy tufts of our native buckwheat species (Eriogonium nudum and E. fasciculatum) throughout the summer in upland plant communities. 

Last year we were also treated to a stunning floral display from marsh gumplant (Grindelia stricta). This deep yellow, sunflower relative can be seen in the tidal marsh and transition zone, lending cover for protected animal species during high tides.

Sign up for one of our restoration work events to see some of these species in their full glory. You can also catch them earlier in the restoration cycle by aiding our propagation efforts in the nursery in the next few months. We are entering into transplanting season for plants that will be outplayed next winter.

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The Man Behind the Mission – A Chat with David Lewis, Executive Director for Save The Bay

Our fearless leader, David Lewis, celebrates his 19th Anniversary at Save The Bay this month. To honor this occasion, David’s colleague and friend, Robin Erickson, CFO, sat down for a chat to hear about his motivations, what keeps him up at night, and how he’s changed as a leader over nearly two decades.

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David Lewis, Executive Director of Save The Bay. Photo: Mike Oria

I’ve worked for this man for 12 years. That’s 3,000 days in the office together. (OK, we’ve taken a few vacations in there, but you get the idea). And when I think about why I’m still at Save The Bay, David Lewis is at the forefront.

I’ve never stopped learning from David. About our fascinating Bay, about politics and history, and random Latin phrases I really wish I could remember (and have no idea how he does).

In the 12 years I’ve known David, he’s never slowed down. He leads by example. He cares about the people who work for him. He welcomes differing opinions. He doesn’t get defensive when you point out mistakes. He’s the first to sign up for kitchen cleaning duty.

I respect David a lot. So I was honored to sit down with him and ask him a few questions.

Robin: What’s the best part of your job?
David: A rare part of the job – being on the Bay, which I get to do when I’m participating in tours with donors or stakeholders. I’m lucky to see it from my office window (and my house), but it’s not the same. Experiencing the Bay be it walking, hiking, biking, sitting on the beach, kayaks, volunteering in a wetland restoration, etc. is inspiring and it’s what drives me to get up and go to work every day.

Robin: What’s the hardest part of your job?
David: Seeing more opportunities for Save The Bay to protect and restore the Bay than we have people and resources for. We have to be very strategic because there are way more things to work on than we are able.

Robin: How have you changed as a leader in 19 years? 
David: I’ve developed more confidence to make changes that need to be made. Earlier on I wasn’t always able to recognize when change was needed and act quickly. And I’ve realized the importance of hiring the best people available. Your effectiveness as a leader depends most on the people you hire. I’ve also become more comfortable delegating work, like some writing tasks and funder relationships.

Robin: When the going gets tough, what values and practices do you lean on to get you through your day?
David: Do something. When things get overwhelming it can seem paralyzing. I try to do the most important thing, but if that isn’t obvious I at least try to do something. It’s about action. It’s important to plan and to build alignment and consensus, but you can’t let that get in the way of making the call or having the meeting. What organizations and individuals do is more important than what they are “for.”

Robin: Where have you seen the most impact in environmental conservation in the Bay Area in the last 19 years?
David: When environmentalists truly partner and enlist other constituencies they have the most impact. There’s a saying, “Winning advocacy is about addition.” We have who we have, but how do we get who we need that we don’t yet have on our side? Measure AA is a great example.  There wasn’t any doubt that we would gain environmental leaders’ and organizations’ support, but we were going to need support from a two-thirds majority of 3.5 million registered voters. That required support from people who care about the Bay but don’t primarily identify as environmentalists —  business leaders, labor unions, community organizations, elected officials. That’s why it took 10 years. In the Bay Area we’ve done most of the easy stuff. Hard stuff requires building alliances and support outside our core constituency.

Robin: Like many conservation nonprofits, Save The Bay has survived decades of climate deniers and low funding prioritization. Today’s political climate creates more hurdles for nonprofits like us, how will Save The Bay survive for another 50+ years?
David:
What you said about climate deniers is true in general but less true in the Bay Area and on the issue of the Bay. People here are mostly not climate deniers, they have concern for the environment and pride in the Bay, and we are a wealthy region overall, so it’s not as much of a challenge for us to tell that story (and be believed) as it is for environmental organizations in other parts of the country. A bigger challenge is that there are a lot of important causes competing for attention and support here (and the overall number of conservation donors is still a small fraction compared with other nonprofit causes). One of Save The Bay’s advantages, if we use it, is that our issue is visible and beloved. But when people look at it, the Bay looks beautiful, so we have to work harder to explain that the Bay isn’t saved: it is still threatened by pollution, climate change, and population growth in the region, and if we don’t continue to protect and restore it, it won’t support our economy or the lifestyle Bay Area residents love.

Robin: If a million dollars landed in our lap, what would Save The Bay work on?
David: I’d have Save The Bay work in more cities for our Bay Smart Communities program. It’s a new program that we’ve just launched that focuses on the importance of greening Bay Area communities to ensure a clean and healthy Bay.  We’re focusing on two cities to start with – Oakland and San Mateo – because we can’t be in too many places at the same time and know we can make a valuable impact in communities there. Long-term, I want us to be able to make a difference all around the Bay. I want us to make a bigger impact and faster… which requires a lot more money.

Robin: The Bay Area is the world leader in technological development. How has technology changed since you started at Save The Bay and what difference has it made?
David: 
On the plus side, technology gives us efficiency and power so we are able to reach more people to share our story and ultimately broaden support. The danger is when it becomes a crutch and barrier to personal contact because it’s often the personal contact that brings results. For example, we just got a first-time six-figure gift from a funder. I developed a phone relationship with a program officer, they spent two hours attending one of our restoration programs, and Save The Bay’s Habitat Restoration Director Donna Ball and I made an in-person presentation to their board. If I had limited my efforts to just email we wouldn’t have had the same result, but it was a multi-touch approach and the ability to have face-to-face time that helped us secure that support.

What I’ve learned is that every person likes to be contacted in different ways, for some, a phone call stands out more because email volume can be overwhelming, for others, they use text and social media to connect. A big advantage we have as a local organization with a volunteer program is that we can have that in-person contact, and that in-person time is priceless.

Robin: What keeps you awake at night?
David: Trump, lately. I worry about what the last election means for the future of our planet, our country, and our Bay. I’m still a pretty good sleeper, though.

Robin: What do you do when you’re not working?
David: I am fortunate to live on the edge of Tilden Park in the East Bay. I love to hike local trails and my dog loves it too because he can be off leash. I learned to ski after I was 40, which was difficult but (eventually) very rewarding. This year the snow came back after years of drought and low snowpack, so I’ve enjoyed some epic skiing with my family.

Robin: What advice would you give to yourself at 20? 
David: Work less, travel more.
Robin: Why that advice?
David: I grew up in the Bay Area, which is a great place, but not typical of the country or the world. Then I worked for 15 years in Washington, DC, which is also a great place, but pretty insular and sheltered “inside the Beltway”. I became a much more effective advocate by working on cleanup and shutdown of nuclear weapons production facilities with local activists. This was in remote places like Paducah, Kentucky, Amarillo, Texas, Eastern Washington state, and rural Ohio and Tennessee. That was tough territory. People working in those places had to be clever, efficient, and collaborative to be successful. By contrast, we live in a place where you can get 1,000 people to give you $25/year for almost any cause. It’s almost impossible to run an organization into the ground here because people here are well-off and generous and progressive. My travel to those other places made me appreciate what effective advocacy requires. Travel and exposure to more people and places has made me appreciate the advantages I have and the challenges other people face, so I can quickly get into that “don’t mourn – organize” mindset, appreciate the great advantages I have as a person, and we have as an organization. No whining!

Robin: Have you given that advice to your kids?
David: My girls have traveled way more than I did at their age (more credit to their mom than me). They don’t need me to give them that advice.

Robin: What gives you hope?
David: My kids. Young people, generally. We’ve had an incredible parade of talented people – staff and fellows – passing through the organization, bringing great work and energy and going on to other challenges. They become ambassadors for Save The Bay. Our Fellows Program is one of the best additions we’ve made at Save The Bay. It gives me hope.

Top 4 bayside restaurants and bars in San Francisco

The City of San Francisco is not only home to some of the world’s finest and diverse cuisine, spectacular views of San Francisco Bay are also visible throughout the city. Here are a few of our favorite bayside spots to grab a drink and a bite to eat in the City by the Bay.

  1. The Ramp 

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    Originally a Mission Bay bait shop in the 50’s, The Ramp now provides a variety of eats and drinks. On warmer weekend days, they fire up the outdoor grill and get people dancing with live Salsa or Brazilian music. So grab some Huevos Rancheros and mull over their drink menu. They have 14 beers on tap and a variety of fruit-filled cocktails. I’d recommend trying the Mango Margarita or Jalapeno Grapefruit Martini.  Woody Allen also filmed a scene from Blue Jasmine at this location.

  2. Waterfront Restaurant 

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    Are you looking for something fancier and a bit upscale? Since 1969, the Waterfront Restaurant serves the tastiest locally sourced farm-to-table produce and sustainable seafood in the area. Some local favorites include Handmade Seafood Linguini Lobster and a Dungeness Crab Sandwich. Wash it all down with a Ginger Collins or Pomegranate Margarita. Its waterfront location along the Embarcadero offers beautiful views of the Bay, making this the perfect place for an enchanting night out with friends and loved ones.

  3. Greens Restaurant 

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    Owned and operated by the San Francisco Zen Center since 1979, Greens Restaurant is considered one of San Francisco’s finest vegetarian restaurants. Its flavor-packed menu will surely tantalize your taste buds. Enjoy some our favorites like the Farm Fresh Asparagus appetizer or the Wild Mushrooms Sheppard’s Pie. You can complement those dishes with a nice glass of pinot noir or a cup of organic loose leaf tea while gazing at the Golden Gate Bridge.

  4. Ferry Building 

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    Nestled alongside the shores of San Francisco, the Ferry Building is home to a vibrant artisan food community and features a variety of Bay Area shops, regional microbreweries and wineries, and local eateries.  The palpable buzz in the building and its structure harkens back to a different age and captures that once port city feel, making it a unique place to visit. While you’re there, try the modern Vietnamese food at the Slanted Door, seafood at the Hog Island Oyster Company, or grab a delicious burger at the American Eatery. Additionally, on Saturdays, the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture (CUESA) hosts a weekly farmers market in the plaza.