Introducing Bay Day: PG&E Supports Inaugural Event to Celebrate Region’s Natural Beauty

OAKLAND — Part of what people love about the San Francisco Bay is its beauty. For many, it’s what drew them to the area and keeps them from leaving.

PG&E’s Vanessa Vergara, a gas mapping technician, and fellow employees helped kick off Bay Day by working in a nursery at the Oakland Shoreline. (Photos by David Kligman.)

But it’s more than the Golden Gate Bridge, city skylines and other manmade creations. It’s also a region literally alive with plants, animals and natural resources, as well as the largest and most ecologically important estuary on the West Coast.

On Saturday (Oct. 1), PG&E joins the environmental nonprofit Save the Bay organization for the first Bay Day. The day is an opportunity for everyone to celebrate the San Francisco Bay with the reminder that it be preserved and protected for future generations.

“A lot of people drive to work every day and we see the Bay as the backdrop of our lives,” said Save the Bay’s Kristina Watson. “It gives the region our identity. Why wouldn’t we celebrate something we already love?”

Organizers say the day is intended to be like Earth Day but for the San Francisco Bay. Beginning this year, Bay Day will occur every year on the first Saturday of October.

Some 23 cities are taking part and 40 events are planned, most free of charge or discounted, in San Francisco, the East Bay, the North Bay and the Peninsula and South Bay.

There will be a coastal cleanup in San Francisco; an opportunity to meet wild animals from the Bay at the Lindsay Wildlife Experience in Walnut Creek; free tours of the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito; and a docent-led family hike at an open preserve near East Palo Alto that will show the possible impacts of climate change to the Bay.

Nance Donati, a 10-year PG&E employee, provides a perch for a small frog that jumped on her hand.

Protecting the environment is a core company value for PG&E. Earlier this year, volunteers helped repair a meadow in Santa Clara County. And PG&E annually works with bird experts to protect peregrine falcons that nest at the company’s headquarters in San Francisco.

To kick off Bay Day, about 25 PG&E employees volunteered their time today (Sept. 28) at a nursery helping to restore wetland habitat to its natural state at the Martin Luther King Jr. Shoreline in Oakland. They spent several hours trimming native salt grass that will eventually be planted in Hayward.

“It shows that we’re honoring our commitment to environmental stewardship,” said Nance Donati, a 10-year PG&E employee who helps ensure the company complies with environmental regulations. “The Bay is everything.”

PG&E’s partnership with Save the Bay is mutually important, with both organizations working to make Bay Area communities clean, sustainable and resilient to climate change.

For PG&E, the project was just one of the many ways the company works every day to improve the communities where its employees work and live.

PG&E also has provided financial support to Save the Bay — begun in 1961 — whose missions include preventing pollution, restoring wetlands and stopping reckless shoreline development.

On Bay Day, Some 23 cities are taking part and 40 events are planned, most free of charge or discounted.

Earlier this year, PG&E backed Measure AA to fund critical conservation and flood protection projects. In June, the measure passed with approval from more than 70 percent of Bay Area voters.

In addition, PG&E this year committed $1 million over five years to help California cities and counties prepare for, withstand and recover from events caused by climate change.

Jessie Olson, the nursery manager for Save the Bay, said she and her team greatly appreciate PG&E’s commitment to volunteer.

“It’s everything for our staff that local organizations care about the environment and are willing to show their support,” she said.

PG&E’s Kathrine Long, who works in Oakland and helps colleges save energy, said she decided to volunteer in part because of the location. The shoreline is proof that you can find nature anywhere — even amid a bustling city.

“It’s a chance to see the beauty of Oakland,” Long said. “You don’t always hear about it but it’s here.”


This blog was  written by David Kligman and originally published by PG&E Currents on September 28, 2016.

Email David Kligman at


Meet 3 Bay All Stars

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Meet all-star volunteers Steven Russell, Steve Haas (pictured with Restoration Project Specialist Bryan Derr) and Sheldon Nelson

Save The Bay relies on our volunteers to restore marsh habitat around the Bay, and some go above and beyond in their time and effort spent. When tasked to plant 20,000 native plants at Eden Landing Ecological Reserve, in sensitive habitat inaccessible to our large volunteer groups, three of our most dedicated volunteers were ready to help. Three “all-star” volunteers — Steven Russell, Steve Haas, and Sheldon Nelson — joined Save The Bay’s restoration staff in planting up to 1,500 plants a day in the field. Donating a full day of work, they not only provided physical labor, but great attitudes, humor, and camaraderie to the restoration team.

Steven Russell of Redwood City has been volunteering with Save The Bay for almost ten years! His favorite Save The Bay restoration site is Eden Landing Ecological Reserve because watching the restoration work throughout the site gives him great hope for the Bay’s future.

Steve Haas of Menlo Park has been a volunteer with Save The Bay for eight years, he enjoys returning to the many Save The Bay restoration sites to see the difference volunteers have made to establish native plants and remove invasive ones.

A San Ramon native, Sheldon Nelson has been a regular volunteer with Save The Bay for four years. His favorite site is Eden Landing Ecological Reserve because it is a beautiful place to work, and when the tide comes in he feels like he is standing in the middle of the bay.

Thank you Steven, Steve, and Sheldon for your dedication to Saving the San Francisco Bay! Visit to join our dedicated team of volunteers to help restore our Bay.

Notes from the Field: Seth’s Three Cents

Exchange students from Singapore removing invasive species at Ravenswood Pond in Menlo Park.

With a new school year recently underway and our native planting season beginning in a few short months, I took some time this past weekend to reflect upon the two and a half years I’ve spent with Save The Bay. Ultimately, I identified a handful of personal opinions formed while leading habitat restoration programs with Save The Bay. Anyone who has spent time with me in the field has probably listened to me harp on some of the themes discussed below, and while I do not intend to come across as prophetic or prescient, I firmly believe in these three ideas:

1. Almost nothing is static. People change, cultures evolve, economies fluctuate, and landscapes are perpetually in a state of transformation, albeit a gradual one. Back in the fall of 2011 I applied Jared Diamond’s theory of landscape amnesia to the San Francisco Bay. Humans often fail to recognize changes when they occur gradually enough to be imperceptible to the human eye. While we may look at the shape of the Bay and assume it remains unchanged, in reality the outline and appearance of our estuary has shifted dramatically—due to geology, climate, and human impact—and will continue to shift due to these same variables.

Though humans’ impact on the Bay has been ecologically destructive in the post-Gold Rush era, this momentum can be reversed through progressive legislation and physical reparation. Our land use advocacy and on-the-ground wetland restoration accomplishes exactly this: changing the shape of San Francisco Bay in an ecologically beneficial manner. Personally witnessing two and a half years of work at our restoration sites has proven to me that our approach really works; degraded wetland areas can be improved at a terrific pace. As we look towards a future challenged by the threats of climate change, water scarcity, and loss of biodiversity, maintaining a dynamic view of our relationship with the California landscape will be critical to finding creative, sustainable solutions.

2. Everyone cares. I’d like to suggest that Community-based Restoration be renamed “Global Community-based Restoration.” The sight of 50 or 60 Bay Area locals showing up to volunteer at 9am on a rainy Saturday morning will never fail to impress me. That being said, even more astonishing are the groups of volunteers from Los Angeles, Pennsylvania, and even Singapore we’ve witnessed demonstrating the same dedication and respect for our projects that the locals do. Despite the likelihood that these volunteers will never visit our sites again, they still take the time to plant each native seedling with care, recognizing that while we do not necessarily all share a bay in common, we do share oceans.

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Local wetland ecologist Peter Baye, Ph.D, walking down a bike path flooded by king tides last winter.

3. It’s all about the “watershed” perspective. One cannot talk about the health of San Francisco Bay without also considering the health of the Pacific Ocean, the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and the polar ice caps. Melting glaciers at the poles are raising ocean levels worldwide, which means that our Bay will also experience a rise in water levels. In anticipation of this change, local scientists are focusing research on wetlands’ ability to migrate vertically and keep up with rising waters. One major variable in determining the success of vertical migration is the availability of adequate sediments (dirt, sand, and other materials) present in Bay water. The majority of these sediments originate from the Sierra Nevada mountains and travel to the Bay via the Sacramento and San Joaquin Delta.

In recent years the sediment load entering the Bay has decreased significantly due to river damming and diversion in the Sierra Nevada and Central Valley. This sediment supply chain connects the future of coastal Bay communities with the water politics of the San Francisco Bay watershed, an area comprising 40% of California’s landmass. As you might guess, this is just one of many complex interrelationships impacting the Bay. What this means is that San Francisco Bay conservation and restoration cannot just be a local issue; effective action will require state-wide participation and collaboration. Everyone will have a role, and the more we can educate ourselves and maintain a big picture view, the better off our state will be.

Care to discuss any of these ideas in person? Come volunteer with us.

Notes from the Field | Earth Day around the Bay

In celebration of Earth Day, this past weekend Save The Bay partnered with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Don Edwards National Wildlife Refuge, REI, the Lucy Evans Nature Center, the Environmental Volunteers Eco Center, and a total of 76 community volunteers to clean up and restore habitat at several sites along the San Francisco Bay shoreline.  Each of our programs offered a unique opportunity to get outside and experience the beauty of SF Bay, as well as learn about our local ecosystems.

Ravenswood Pond in East Palo Alto

Earth Day at Ravenswood
Volunteers learn more about the Bay before helping to restore Ravenswood Pond. Photo: Judy Irving (c) Pelican Media

This pond is a top priority in the South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project – the largest tidal wetland restoration project on the West Coast – and has undergone construction to become a reconfigured managed pond that tests multiple approaches to nesting islands and habitat for shorebirds and other pond-dependent species. Save The Bay and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have been partnering at this site since 2008 to remove trash and non-native species, and reestablish native habitat.

This past weekend 38 volunteers contributed to the restoration of Ravenswood Pond by removing over 600 pounds of invasive, non-native slender-leaf ice plant, as well as 40 pounds of trash from the along the road and tidal marsh transition zone.

Palo Alto Baylands

The Palo Alto Baylands consists of approximately 1,940 acres in Palo and East Palo Alto. This area was originally purchased in 1921 for the development of a municipal airport, salt-water swimming pool, yacht harbor and clubhouse, playgrounds, picnic groups, golf course, and game reserve. In the 1960s, local activists – including Lucy Evans and Harriet Mundy – fought for the protection of the Baylands’ natural habitats, halting a $30 million private development plan. In 1992, the Emily Renzel Wetlands restoration project was completed with a $1,000,000 grant from the California Coastal Conservancy. Save The Bay has been partnering with the City of Palo Alto at several sites in the Palo Alto Baylands since 2001 – removing trash and non-native plants, and planting native seedlings.

Weeding at Compass Point
Volunteers removed 780 pounds of invasive plants at Compass Point.

This past weekend 38 community members volunteered at the Save The Bay Palo Alto Native Plant Nursery, and Compass Point. They removed 780 pounds of invasive, non-native mustard and radish, watered native seedlings that were planted this past winter, and propagated over 700 new native plant species to be planted next year.

Thank you everyone who contributed their time this past weekend!

As Margaret Meade said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world.  Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

At Save The Bay we will continue to give back each weekend with the help of community members like you. Come join us!

Notes from the Field | Deepening our roots at the Palo Alto Baylands

Our new workshed at the Palo Alto Baylands provides space to deepen our commitment to community-based restoration.

Over the holidays, as I reflected on this past year at Save The Bay, I was most proud of our commitment to authentically engage in community-based restoration. There is a joy that springs from the simple act of working together to heal wounds in the landscapes of our communities. As we continue to develop our restoration activities and volunteer programs, we deepen our own roots in the process.

Save The Bay has worked at the Palo Alto Baylands since 2004. In December, we celebrated the completion of a new workshed at our Baylands Native Plant Nursery as the final stage of a 3-year process to improve and expand our nursery facilities. The former, dilapidated workshed was little more than a chicken shack; it provided minimal security for supplies, but nothing else. We went through a thorough planning process with the city to build two new structures: a greenhouse to improve seed germination and a workshed to not only store tools, but to create a covered space for volunteers to engage out of the wind and rain. Our long term commitment to developing both the quality of our native seedling as well as the work space for volunteers grows out of deep roots in the community and in the Bay itself.

The workshed is a 625 square foot facility that is simple, functional, and elegant. It is designed to provide better storage for restoration tools and nursery supplies. There are large work tables to improve productivity and wide barn doors to facilitate better flow between the shed, greenhouse, and shadehouse. There are many partners to thank in the planning and building process, the City of Palo Alto, pro-bono efforts by Craig O’Connell Architecture, Santos and Urrutia Structural Engineers, and Cupertino Electric, the contractor Pete Moffat Construction, and major funding provided by the Santa Clara Valley Water District‘s Watershed Stewardship Grant program and Sand Hill Foundation. Of course, these facilities would not exist without the dedicated volunteers like you that desire to get outside, learn about the ecology of the Bay, and help restore critical ecosystems in their community.

We enter the New Year outplanting thousands of native seedlings, creating new habitat with each seedling, each volunteer deepening their connections to this place. Soon, the practice will come full circle and begin again, sowing seeds for the next generation, and deepening our roots in the process. Please join us this winter to help plant thousands of seedlings around the Bay. Sign up to volunteer today.

I hope you all have a wonderful and happy new year!

— Doug Serrill, Nursery Manager