Weekly Roundup October 5, 2012

weekly roundupIn this week’s roundup, Save The Bay’s founder Sylvia McLaughlin is honored with a renaming of Eastshore State Park. Monday was a big day for fighting plastic pollution in the Bay, as San Francisco’s plastic ban now applies to all local retailers. David Lewis was quoted in the Chronicle: “San Francisco is showing that it is vital to stop litter at its source before it flows into creeks, chokes wetlands, and harms wildlife.” Farther south, courts ruled against plastic bag industry in San Lois Obispo and Haiti banned plastic bags and Styrofoam. In wetland restoration news, Watsonville Slough project is improving life for people and birds. And Bair Island restoration continues near Redwood City. The Los Angeles Times profiles Delta landowners fighting the proposed peripheral tunnel. Finally, Hayward’s salt ponds are memorialized with a US postage stamp.

San Francisco Chronicle 10/3/2012
Park to take name of noted bay advocate
A parks commission has approved a resolution to rename Eastshore State Park after the last surviving founder of the environmental watchdog group Save the Bay.

San Francisco Chronicle 9/29/2012
Monday is D day for bags, a dime apiece
There’s one more thing San Franciscans need to add to their shopping list, unless they want to pay up: a reusable bag.
Learn more about San Francisco’s expanded bag ban >>

Miami Herald 9/24/2012
Haiti bans plastic bags, foam containers
Plastic and foam food containers are everywhere in this enterprising Caribbean nation — clogging canals, cluttering streets and choking ocean wildlife.

New Times 10/4/2012
County plastic bag ban upheld in court
On the same day a plastic bag ban went into effect, a challenge to the controversial law impacting grocery and other retail outlets across San Luis Obispo County was shot down by a SLO County Superior Court judge.

Santa Cruz Sentinel 10/3/2012
Wetlands restoration a boon to birds, people; transportation agencies help fund latest Watsonville project
Crews are wrapping up the restoration of a section of Watsonville Slough that’s been little more than a drainage ditch for years.The work along a stretch of the slough between Ohlone Parkway and Highway 1 is the final phase of a 25-acre wetlands restoration project mandated when the city annexed the 94-acre Manabe-Ow property at its western edge for a business park.

Field Notes 9/25/2012
DON EDWARDS S.F. BAY NWR: Innovative Deal on Restoration Dirt Saves Taxpayers Money
An innovative arrangement to acquire uncontaminated dirt for an ongoing wetland restoration project on Bair Island, a part of the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge near Redwood City, Calif., is saving taxpayers more than $5 million.

The Los Angeles Times 10/4/2012
Delta, accustomed to water wars, prepares for battle
As a child, Brett Baker learned farming fundamentals from his grandfather, who taught him to drive a tractor and gave him some advice about water.

The Daily Review 9/30/2012
Hayward photo by Berkeley photographer chosen for stamp
At first glance, the magenta field slashed down the middle by a multicolored strand could be an abstract painting in an art gallery. The striking image, though, is the work of aerial photographer Barrie Rokeach of Berkeley, who elevated a sight familiar to Bay Area residents — salt ponds along the Hayward shoreline — to a work of art.

Beyond the Parking Lot: Finding Peace in the Tidal Marsh

Eden Landing
This beautiful marsh is tucked behind the urban landscape in Hayward.

If someone had told me before I visited Hayward’s Eden Landing, that I’d see dozens of graceful white birds swooping over the marsh, or that a feeling of complete peace would wash over me once I stepped onto the levee, I never would have believed them.

As a San Franciscan who avoids freeways whenever possible, I’d never even been to Hayward before my first field experience as a new Save The Bay employee. All of my prior experience with wetlands had been in areas close to heavily populated urban areas, and well-used by the public, such as the Berkeley Marina. I didn’t know what to expect.

When I first turned off the freeway and began to make my way past the shopping centers and dense housing developments toward Save The Bay’s restoration site at Eden Landing, I have to admit I wasn’t expecting to experience beauty or peace. The area is both industrial and heavily residential. There didn’t seem to be space for nature. To my surprise, as I drove into the parking lot, and saw the Bay and its wetlands tucked away behind the homes, it was easy to leave the built world behind. I joined the group of Safeway employee volunteers in the park adjacent to the site for a quick orientation. Our job that day was to remove invasive plants to give the native plants room to grow. As we walked out onto the levee, the quiet was palpable despite the chattering volunteers.

Eden Landing in Hayward
The Bay literally sits in the backyard of Hayward residents.

We spent the morning scraping up the shallow-rooted slenderleaf iceplant (a plant that Seth Chanin, our Restoration Program Manager, describes as “plants with glistening vampire skin”) and pulling Russian thistle out of ground, concentrating on areas where the invasive plants were crowding out the pickleweed, California sage, salt marsh baccharis, and California goldenrod. These native plants provide important habitat for endangered species such as the salt marsh harvest mouse and California clapper rail. As quickly as the invasive weeds grow, it seems like a losing battle at first glance, but once the natives gain a foothold, they’ll do their own work to crowd out the invasive species.

One of my responsibilities in my new job is to explain to the media and the public why the work we do to restore our wetlands for people and wildlife is so important. Healthy wetlands are crucial for Bay habitats to thrive. But that’s not all. They also provide an unexpected source of quiet and stillness for humans to enjoy. A bit of wild nature in the midst of densely populated communities. Something I, for one, know that I need in order to thrive in my urban habitat.