Bair Island: A Story of Success

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The contrast between development and restoration could not be starker than it is in San Mateo County, where the subdivisions of Foster City and Redwood Shores neighbor the revitalized wild spaces of Bair Island.

Once a thriving tidal marsh, the 3,000-acre Bair Island was drained in the 1800s and later transformed into salt evaporation ponds. Mobil Oil bought it in the 1970s, with plans to develop a huge new suburb, but local residents Ralph and Carolyn Nobles led the Friends of Redwood City to defeat that proposal. They successfully pressured the property’s next owner to sell to the Peninsula Open Space Trust, while the Citizens’ Committee to Complete the Refuge, led by Florence LaReviere, campaigned to expand the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge in order to provide permanent protection for the site. Today, as part of the Refuge, Bair Island has undergone extensive restoration to create vital habitat.

While Bair Island is a critically important habitat in its own right, it also vividly illustrates Save The Bay’s vision for the Redwood City Salt Ponds just to the south. These restorable baylands embody the stark choice between reckless development and restoring critical habitat, and are a shining example of our Bay’s bright future.

How can you get involved? Explore Bair Island’s publicly accessible trails, get your hands dirty restoring habitat with Save The Bay, or join us in telling Cargill to sell or donate the Salt Ponds to be fully restored.