Garden Club of America Honors Save The Bay

Executive Director David Lewis is quick to praise the Garden Club of America, a volunteer non-profit, for its perseverance protecting the environment. “Garden clubs have a long history of involvement in conservation. They made a huge push to advocate for the creation of the Clean Water Act, and their members have continued to be leading advocates in local communities.”

The GCA made clear recently: this admiration is mutual. Save The Bay has earned one of the Garden Club of America’s highest honors, the Cynthia Pratt Laughlin Medal for “outstanding achievement in environmental protection and the maintenance of the quality of life.”

In a recent newsletter, the GCA touched on six decades of Save The Bay’s history, highlighting why the organization deserved national recognition. Writer Karen Gilhuly of the Woodside-Atherton Garden Club starts the story in 1961, when Save The Bay’s three women founders, Sylvia McLaughlin, Kay Kerr, and Esther Gulick, charted a new course in environmentalism.

Gilhuly illustrates how their move to organize around preventing Bay fill “quickly became a model for others fighting to protect natural habitats in urban environments. Up until this time, conservation efforts had largely focused on protecting remote areas of wilderness and creating our natural parks.”

Save The Bay’s groundbreaking partnerships didn’t go under the radar, either. Gilhuly highlights the 1965 launch of Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC), “made up of representatives from private, public and non-profit sectors.”

Uniting diverse interests, the BCDC “inspired other organizations to spring up across the United States to protect critical bodies of water.” In 1995, Save The Bay once again demonstrated a collaborative spirit, partnering with eight Bay-oriented organizations to form Restore America’s Estuaries (RAE). To this day, RAE “brings more than 1,000 students, activists and citizens together every other year to share best practices.”

The Garden Club of America also championed Save The Bay for its political effectiveness. Gilhuly sheds light on two of our most successful collaborations: banning single-use plastic bags across California and advancing a historic parcel tax to bring $500M in Bay restoration funding over 20 years.

By chance, this national recognition from the Garden Club of America coincides with David Lewis’s 20th Anniversary as Save The Bay’s Executive Director. David says he’s humbled to build on the work of our brave women founders, and moved to see Save The Bay awarded for: “decades of dedication to the protection of San Francisco Bay from industrialization, pollution, and shoreline development.”

He was also inspired by fellow GCA awardees, environmental advocates such as Former First Lady Laura Bush, honored for her work preserving national parks. In the end, David says he was especially grateful to be recognized by the GCA as “garden clubs really are kindred spirits to Save The Bay because they appreciate – and preserve – natural beauty.”

Behind the Scenes of Bay Day: Looking Back and Gearing Up!

As a Marin County native, I can’t help but appreciate rolling hills, towering redwoods, and vibrant wildflowers. I grew up hiking Mount Tamalpais, and I’ve always loved reaching its peak and looking out at San Francisco Bay.

With these memories in mind, I started a full-time job at Save The Bay last summer after graduating college with an Environmental Studies degree. I was excited to find out that Save The Bay had created an official, region-wide holiday dedicated to celebrating San Francisco Bay, its people and wildlife. I was even more thrilled to learn that I would be heavily involved in planning… Bay Day!

As the weeks flew by, I found it rewarding to translate my college coursework into on-the-ground advocacy for SF Bay. I reached out to local businesses and organizations to spread the word about Bay Day. I packed boxes, loaded trucks, and organized materials to ensure our Bay-saving team was ready to go for the big day.

All that work paid off when October rolled around. On Bay Day 2017, I was so inspired to watch families learn together about the issues affecting our Bay. I was and still am proud that our dedicated staff, volunteers, community partners, and sponsors hosted more than 70 activities across nine Bay Area counties.

This Bay Day, we’re inspiring the Bay Hero in everyone and will recognize Bay Heroes who protect our Bay in extraordinary ways. We will also encourage Bay Area residents to register to VOTE to make their voice heard at the ballot box this November. And, it wouldn’t be Bay Day without an opportunity to DIG IN at one of our restoration events.

Check out our full events calendar and mark your calendars for Saturday, October 6. I hope you will join us in celebrating our beautiful Bay!

Saving The Bay as a High School Senior: Meet Talia Paulson


I am Talia, an incoming high school senior at College Prep in Oakland, and I’ve been a Habitat and Restoration fellow here at Save The Bay for the past six weeks. I found out about this opportunity from an elective class I’m taking at school entitled “STOak,” which stands for “Social Transformations in Oakland.”

The year-long course involves researching the history of Oakland, learning about different social movements here, and discussing how the city has changed over time. To make a difference in the community, each student was matched with an Oakland non-profit for a summer internship covering local issues.

I applied to Save The Bay because I’d enjoyed a previous experience volunteering for the organization, and I was inspired by the way its staff focus on restoration while simultaneously supporting policies that benefit the Bay. A key part of Save The Bay’s mission is to educate the community about the Bay and the threats it faces, and during my time here I’ve had the opportunity to help lead multiple education programs. These events teach students from around the Bay Area about tidal marshlands, providing them with hands-on activities by the water and in nurseries. In exploring Bay wetlands with staff and students, I now have an even deeper understanding of plant propagation and maintenance (such as weeding, watering, and mulching).

With college on the horizon, I now know that I want to keep learning about environmental science and policy in some way. As my fellowship winds down, I’m even more excited to take AP Environmental Science this year in school. I’m also grateful to have work experience in the non-profit world.

It was really valuable to see how people’s unique backgrounds shape the workplace at Save The Bay. I’ve discovered that although everyone here brings something different to the table, they all have a strong passion for making Oakland and our surrounding environment cleaner and healthier. Their determination makes me eager to consider career options in environmental science and sustainability.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my past six weeks with Save The Bay, and I’m sad to say goodbye to people I’ve met and to wrap up the work I’ve been doing. I know that my experiences here will stick with me into college and beyond, and I’m very grateful that I had this amazing opportunity to spend my summer in such an educational and fulfilling way.

If you’re curious, Save The Bay’s Fellowship program includes other opportunities besides the habitat and restoration work I’ve been doing. Click here to see all the Fellowship possibilities with Save The Bay. I encourage anyone interested to go ahead and apply!


Redoubling our efforts after Pruitt’s departure

Scott Pruitt may have left the building, but his legacy of attacks on the environment and climate denial will likely live on. So, Save The Bay’s work to protect the Bay Area and California remains vital and urgent this year.

Pruitt’s resignation as EPA Administrator comes after his many scandals prompted at least 13 federal investigations. Worse for the planet, Pruitt also initiated 31 EPA deregulation efforts to undo long-standing rules that protect public health from pollution. Expect Pruitt’s replacement, EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler, to continue or accelerate this agenda, and offer no relief to the nation’s air and water.

A former coal and uranium lobbyist, Wheeler lobbied for Murray Energy and other major polluters, working against strong protections for clean air, water and public lands. He also worked as an aide to James Inhofe of Oklahoma, the leading climate change denier in the U.S. Senate. Wheeler could actually be more effective than Pruitt was in rolling back environmental protections because he’s a veteran Washington, DC, insider with extensive political contacts.

So, what should we do? Resist and redouble our efforts to ensure state and regional environmental laws and funding compensate for federal disinvestment in San Francisco Bay and California’s resources. Save The Bay will:

  • Lead the fight to reduce pollution of the Bay and accelerate climate adaptation in the Bay Area. Whoever runs the EPA, we have the tools to reduce trash in the Bay, and insist that California regulators enforce the stormwater pollution rules Caltrans has violated for years.
  • Seize the opportunity to secure another $200 million in state matching funds for Bay marsh restoration this fall. We’ve already endorsed Proposition 3, the November state water bond that adds money for the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority’s wetlands grants, beyond what the regional Measure AA parcel tax provides.
  • Encourage our federal elected officials to exercise vigorous oversight of EPA and block rollback of crucial water and air protections. We’ll urge Senators Feinstein and Harris, Nancy Pelosi and the entire Bay Area delegation to be tenacious watchdogs over the EPA’s budget, and the Clean Water Act that guards against pollution and destruction of wetlands.

You can help by supporting Save The Bay generously. And sign up for action alerts and volunteer programs.

The Bay Area and California have already shown we won’t let the Trump Administration take us backwards on environmental protection. Scott Pruitt’s resignation should only strengthen our resolve to make San Francisco Bay better for future generations, starting right here at home.



Proposition 3 would invest big in Bay wetlands and clean water

California voters this November have a tremendous opportunity to accelerate San Francisco Bay tidal marsh restoration and improve water quality statewide through Proposition 3.  This $8.8 billion bond measure funds projects that provide environmental benefits to people and wildlife, including habitat for endangered fish, safe drinking water for disadvantaged populations, improved resilience against drought, and adaptation to climate change.

Proposition 3 provides $200 million directly to the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority for grants to restore Bay marshes, one of Save The Bay’s top priorities for the last decade. This would expand habitat restoration beyond what Bay Area voters are funding  through the Measure AA parcel tax approved in 2016.

While Measure AA will provide $500 million over 20 years for grants to fund wetlands restoration, that only covers about one-third of the estimated $1.4 billion cost to double the total tidal marsh in the Bay and keep it healthy [Greening the Bay]. Demand for Measure AA funds is higher than annual AA tax receipts can support – twice as much money was requested for restoration projects this spring as was available.

Proposition 3 will add crucial state funds to improve the Bay’s health and resilience to climate change, especially important at a time when the President and Congress are trying to reduce federal investments in the environment. It is vital to commit more funds to the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority while California’s economy is still booming and voters are open to approving bonds.

Save The Bay has endorsed Proposition 3 because it contains important water investments that benefit the Bay and Delta watersheds, including ten times more funding for San Francisco Bay than Proposition 68, the state parks bond that voters approved in June. These bond funds could be spent in the next five years and start revegetating more marshes sooner to stay ahead of sea level rise.

We’ve written more about the statewide benefits of Proposition 3, which you can read here.

Stay tuned for updates about Proposition 3 and other opportunities to Vote for the Bay at