Staff Planting Day 2015!

oro loma group
At 9am Tuesday morning, Save The Bay’s staff gathered at the entrance of the Oro Loma Sanitary District, ready to get to work outside. It was a day past Fellows and I have anticipated as a fun disruption of our usual indoor routines, and anyone would agree that if Bay Savers aren’t channeling their focus, good humor and determination into computers at the office, they’re going to channel those qualities onto the field, especially with trowels.

oro loma flags

Before diving in, the Habitat Restoration team guided us through the Oro Loma Horizontal Levee Project and its context of sea level rise and restoration efforts in San Francisco Bay. After our nursery manager Jessie’s brief tour of the nursery beds where she’s growing the 70,000 seedlings to be planted on the site, Habitat Restoration Director Donna provided a brief overview of the experimental levee and its innovative approach to sustainable bayshore infrastructure and improving water quality. In collaboration with UC Berkeley (include list of other partners here), Oro Loma Sanitary District will provide research that would demonstrate how this ecotone project would effectively interact with treated wastewater and continue re-establishing the Bay’s habitat in the future.

With that in mind, our planting crew joined the rest of the Habitat Restoration team, put on our gloves, and patted in at least seven different species on deck (while their names escape me now, they were gratefully color-coded in white, red, pink, light blue, dark blue, purple, light green, and dark green). Between digging, I couldn’t help but take in the unique space–a wastewater management facility and active construction site around us–and was amazed at what an unconventional venue like this this would provide for a manmade basin. How will this site look in a few years once the levee is completely planted and thriving? I’m usually a very patient person, but I am pretty excited to see Oro Loma’s transformative results.

oro loma planting

After four hours out in the field, the Save The Bay staff put in 2,260 plants–a full cell of the levee! How did a few of us cool off afterward? By going over to Alameda Memorial State Beach and taking a celebratory dip the Bay! 

Are you interested in contributing to a unique restoration project along the Bay shoreline? Save The Bay will be hosting one more volunteer planting workday at Oro Loma, on December 12. Volunteer with us!

A Day in the Life of a Communications Fellow


The immediacy of social media can make it seem like an arbitrary and random content generator, when in reality many of the articles, photos, and tweets you see were planned in advance. Not only do these platforms allow us to share news and actions related to our cause, but they also provide an open channel to engage with people who support our work and care about the Bay. What is it like to have that responsibility?

When I get to the Save the Bay office on Monday morning, the first thing I do before opening any email is check my Facebook and Twitter pages. In fact, I check them constantly throughout the day, right after getting notifications for new likes, comments, or mentions. I even check them in front of staff–but it’s not what you think. What do we say? When? And how? These aren’t the easiest questions at 9am, and timing is the extra ingredient when figuring them out. In the morning I scan through recent news, filtering which stories could be shared throughout the week. I research facts about San Francisco Bay. I search for photos or other media to accompany them. I go through past blog posts–our archive is extensive–and try to determine what’s been said in our recent past that would be relevant to mention today. The list goes on–the pool of things to say is vast. But the next best part is: how to condense each of those pieces into a few sentences that will capture the timeliness of that moment and connect it to Save The Bay’s mission. It can be a huge challenge to figure out what that context is, but once I’m able to unite those connections (along with the help of an extra editorial eye), the return is more than rewarding. At the same time, we are always curious and eager to shine the social media spotlight on our colleagues. The Communications team keeps an ear to the ground for the Restoration, Policy and Development teams for blog ideas and keeping up with their important milestones and events. We mix their work with perspectives from our volunteers, some of whom are our most vocal supporters whose fresh experiences at our restoration sites and clean-up events remind us why we are involved with Save The Bay in the first place.

Some of the most engaging work I’ve been involved has been on Instagram, encouraging users to contribute photos to our #MyBayPhoto stream. They come from various backgrounds and relationships with the Bay, and they offer another element of appreciation and involvement beyond Save The Bay’s vision. While most of our followers are familiar with the organization in the past, Instagram allows us to be in tune with their visual point of view that we don’t often see when we are all in the midst of our work. I highly encourage you to have our account on your radar and show us how you’re involved with the Bay!

Find out how you can help Save The Bay through the Office Fellowship Program and apply by December 8!

News Roundup: The Future of Restoring SF Bay


Point of contact: Tides rush in at Sears Point on October 25, 2015. (Photo Credit: Marc Holmes/The Bay Institute)

After over 100 years, the Sonoma Land Trust achieved a major success in wetland restoration this past weekend: breaching the levee at Sears Point to reconnect 1,000 acres of wetlands to San Francisco Bay. This timely event comes within a week of the recently released update to the 1999 Baylands Ecosystem Habitat Goals Report, in which scientists urge accelerated restoration efforts over the next few decades in order to save over 80% of wetlands in the next 100 years.

We can only achieve this goal by acting now: if we continue to waver, the reality of climate change and rising sea levels would not only drive up the cost of restoration, but also place the ecosystem and communities of San Francisco Bay in a more vulnerable state. Projects like Sears Point are a crucial reminder to what we can do to improve health of the Bay; with over 30,000 acres of public land awaiting restoration, the major barrier is funding. That’s why we are supporting the Clean and Healthy Bay ballot measure in 2016, which will provide the resources needed to restore more of our Bay.

Here are some of the articles we think are integral to the conversation about the Bay’s future:

Ceremony near San Pablo Bay marks planned rebirth of wetlands
After 10 years of planning and three years of site preparation, it took less than a minute Sunday for workers to scrape a hole in a levee and begin the renewal of 1,000 acres of former North Bay marshlands. The mechanical excavator scooped aside a few buckets of dirt. Muddy water spurted and then flowed into the waiting basin. Now all that’s needed is time.

San Francisco Bay: Bird populations doubled since 2003 in vast salt pond restoration area
In a clear sign that the largest wetlands restoration project on the West Coast is already improving the health of San Francisco Bay, bird populations have doubled over the past 13 years on thousands acres of former industrial salt-evaporation ponds that ring the bay’s southern shoreline, scientists reported Thursday.

San Francisco Bay: Race to build wetlands is needed to stave off sea-level rise, scientists say
San Francisco Bay is in a race against time, with billions of dollars of highways, airports, homes and office buildings at risk from rising seas, surging tides and extreme storms driven by climate change. And to knock down the waves and reduce flooding, 54,000 acres of wetlands — an area twice the size of the city of San Francisco — need to be restored around the bay in the next 15 years.

Mercury News editorial: San Francisco Bay wetlands need to be restored
At stake are billions of dollars worth of highways, airports, businesses and homes on land immediately adjacent to the Bay. Water levels have already risen 8 inches since 1900, and they are expected to rise another foot in the next 20 years and two feet by 2050. It may not sound like much, but it could be disastrous.

Restoring wetlands is a green defense against rising bay
Editorial by California Assemblyman Tony Thurmond (D-Richmond) — Climate change will harm people from all nations. But one segment of humanity is on the front lines: the poor. From the increased frequency of mega-storms like the one that devastated the Philippines in 2013 to rising seas displacing people of low-lying nations such as Bangladesh, it is the poor who will lose their homes first and suffer the gravest misfortunes.

What can you do to help wetland restoration in San Francisco Bay? Support an upcoming ballot measure that will fund over $500 million dollars to protect the Bay’s shoreline.

Plastic Pollution Roundup

Plastic Pollution on Malaysian beach
Photo by:

Preventing trash from flowing into San Francisco Bay has been an ongoing battle with a repeat offender: plastics. Save The Bay has worked with local communities to ban plastic bags, Styrofoam, and tobacco litter, as well as calling to attention the harmful effects that toxic trash poses to our waterways. Here are several posts that show how far we’ve come in the fight against plastic pollution, and what you can do to help restore the Bay’s health.

The Plastic Trash You Don’t See by Allison Chan

Trash—plastic in particular—remains a very visible pollution problem in our local creeks and along the Bay shoreline. But it’s the plastic you don’t immediately see that’s the latest cause for concern. A recent study determined that billions of tiny pieces of plastic currently pollute the Bay, more than any other major water body in the country.

Bay Pollution and the World’s Oceans by Daniel Adel

While Save The Bay advocates for a healthy Bay, plastic pollution contributes to a global trash problem. Toxic plastic trash can make its way from our streets into our waterways and ultimately out into the ocean via the Golden Gate. Now consider the geography of our region – a heavily populated metropolitan area surrounding the largest estuary on the West Coast of the Americas – and you can imagine the scale of this issue.

How Beth Terry Kicked the Plastic Bag Habit by Beth Terry

Before June of 2007, Beth Terry lived the plastic lifestyle. It’s a lifestyle of consumption, enabled by convenience, and seduced by low cost. Products are inexpensive because they are not designed to last; they are packaged so that they can wait indefinitely on store shelves. But we’re not paying the full cost of this lifestyle.

5 Reasons Why You Should Kick the Plastic Water Bottle Habit by Erin McMullen

We all have bad habits. They are little things we know we shouldn’t do, like buying water in plastic bottles. We tell ourselves it’s just this one little bottle, but every one adds up, and plastic water bottles are so ingrained in our society, it’s a hard habit to break. Despite spending an average of a hundred dollars a year on plastic bottles, plastic bottle users prioritize convenience over doing the right thing.

Do you want to stop trash from flowing into the Bay? Sign the Zero Trash pledge to eliminate polluted runoff in our waterways.

Office Volunteer Roundup

Since launching our office volunteer program in 2012, Save The Bay has benefited tremendously from the professional support of a diverse group of talented volunteers from all walks of Bay life. Our volunteers conduct policy research, write marketing materials, help us connect with donors, and get down and dirty with our habitat restoration crew. They’ve also contributed some of our most memorable blog posts–here are just a few of their stories.

The Value of Native Plants by Caty Varian

Native plants evolved to live with the local climate, soil types, and wildlife and are crucial to establishing and maintaining a healthy San Francisco Bay. Save The Bay’s on-the-ground wetland restoration projects aim to re-establish native plants in the transition zone, creating important buffer areas adjacent to tidal marshes.

Big Oil in Our Backyard by Daniel AdelSaveHealthyBenicia2

A former state capital, not to mention an early contender for Metropolis of the West, Benicia, a sleepy town just shy of 27,000 people, remains hidden from public imagination. Visitors describe the city as quaint and picturesque – a vision that runs counter to the reality that the eastern end of the city fronting Suisun Bay is the site of heavy industry.

What A Waste: Trash and Your Taxes by Maura Mooney CityTrashCost_MauraBlog

Why spend the time and the money removing trash from the environment when we can prevent it from entering in the first place? Save The Bay has worked closely on source control campaigns in the past for some of the most persistent and pervasive trash items: plastic bags and styrofoam containers. We are now turning our attention to a new trash source, the biggest and baddest in the bay area: cigarette butts.

A History of Bay Area Water Usage by Rochelle ReuterOhlone_image

The population of the San Francisco Bay Area has changed dramatically since the Ohlone first settled along the shores of our beloved estuary. During the Gold Rush, San Francisco grew from a small settlement of 200 residents to a booming city of 36,000 residents in just 6 years.

Trash Dumps and the History of the Bay Shoreline by Maya Wolf

Click on the image above to go to an interactive map

Before there were dumps and dump parties, there were wetlands, home to a thriving habitat of flora and fauna. Decades of rampant filling in of shallow areas destroyed 90 percent of San Francisco Bay’s wetlands. Scientists say the Bay needs 100,000 acres of tidal marsh to thrive, more than double that which exists today.

Interested in helping us in the near future? We are always looking for motivated volunteers to help out.