5 Reasons Why Our Bay Wetlands Are Important

Photo by: Judy Irving

Happy World Wetlands Day!

San Francisco Bay was dubbed a Wetland of International Importance in 2013 under an international conservation treaty called the Ramsar Convention.

Wetlands serve vital functions, but are also at risk of destruction. In fact, over 64% of the world’s wetlands have been destroyed since 1900. Fortunately, local activists around the world and here in the Bay Area have been working to protect and restore wetlands for future generations.

Often referred to as the “lungs of the Bay,” here are 5 reasons why our Bay wetlands are important.

1. Wetlands help purify and counterbalance the human effect on water quality.    

Wetlands trap polluted runoff before toxins can reach open Bay water. This natural filtering process actually purifies the waters of the Bay.

Photo by: Vivian Reed

2. Wetlands help curb global warming and protect communities from sea level rise.

Greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, released into the atmosphere are captured, stored, and filtered by our wetlands.

Traffic on the Golden Gate Bridge
Photo by: Vivian Reed

Healthy wetlands also act as sponges capable of soaking up large quantities of water from rain storms and high tides, including King Tides.

King Tides nearly flood this Interstate 880 frontage road by the Oakland Coliseum around 10:30 am.

King Tides nearly flood this Interstate 880 frontage road by the Oakland Coliseum. Photo by: Vivian Reed
Photo by: Vivian Reed

The tall pillars supporting the same frontage road by the Oakland Coliseum are revealed during low tide around 5:30 pm.

Tall pillars supporting the same frontage road by the Oakland Coliseum are revealed during low tide. Photo by: Vivian Reed
Photo by: Vivian Reed

3. Wetlands provide habitat for endangered species.

Healthy tidal marshes provide food and shelter from predators for a number of endangered and threatened species.

San Francisco Bay’s Salt Marsh Harvest Mouse is the tiniest endangered species.

The Ridgway’s Rail is one of the Bay’s endangered species that depends on healthy wetlands to survive.

California Clapper Rail
Photo by: Dan Sullivan.

They also offer migratory animals a place to rest and reproduce along the Pacific Flyway.

A pair of Canada Geese rest along the Bay shoreline during their migration across North America.

Photo by: Vivian Reed

4. Our wetlands are beautiful areas of open space around the highly urbanized Bay Area that provide residents with many recreational opportunities.  

Like this:

In the mid 2000s, Save The Bay’s Canoes In Sloughs (pronounced “slews”) program offered Bay Area students a unique way to learn about and have fun on the Bay.

Canoes in the Sloughs
Photo by: Judy Irving

Or this:

A bicyclist admires the Bay views as he pedals along the Bay Trail.

Bike rider on the Bay Trail
Photo by: Vivian Reed

Or even this:

A family of three enjoy an afternoon stroll at Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

Photo by: Vivian Reed

5. The Bay’s wetlands support our local economy by providing jobs in shipping, tourism, fishing, recreation, and education. 

A large cargo ship travels underneath the Bay Bridge toward the Port of Oakland.

Photo by: Dan Sullivan

We all need a healthy SF Bay. 7 Million Bay Area resides, 400 native species, our economy, and quality of life depend on it . Wetlands are vital to the health of wildlife and humans everywhere.

Help us restore and protect our wetlands by signing up for our volunteering programs today!

Restoration volunteers plant native seedlings into the ground
Photo by: Vivian Reed











Great news! Thanks to a groundswell of support, Bay Area voters will now have a chance to vote for a Clean and Healthy Bay this June. This is the greatest opportunity in a generation to restore our Bay for people, wildlife, and our economy. Are you in?

Take Action Now