Celebrate Your Local Estuary

Did you know that San Francisco Bay is an estuary of international importance due to the rich ecosystem it supports and its central role in the economy and quality of life of the Bay Area?

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September 20-27 is National Estuaries Week, which kicked off on International Coastal Cleanup Day. Coastal Cleanup Day is a day-long event during which volunteers come together to clean up beaches, rivers, and creeks. It’s a great way to raise awareness about the trash in our waterways, as every year volunteers remove tons of trash. With our oceans full of swirling patches of discarded plastic trash, it’s important to try to stem the flow. Cleanups are one way to do that. But the wetlands that surround our beloved estuary clean up the coastline every day of the year.

Most of the pollution and trash in the Bay come from land through polluted runoff. Wetland plants work to filter polluted runoff and trash from the land and prevent it from reaching open Bay waters. Some plants can even remove heavy metals and other toxins from the water after it’s been polluted.

This is just one of the reasons why Save The Bay works with community volunteers to restore wetlands at seven different sites around the Bay shoreline, advocates for preserving open land around the Bay, and creates sources of funding and political support for restoring 100,000 acres of Bay wetlands that scientists say the Bay needs to be healthy.

Even if you didn’t volunteer on Coastal Cleanup Day, here are five ways you can celebrate your beloved local estuary:

1. Learn what inspires our nearly 7,000 yearly volunteers to get their hands dirty along the shoreline by watching this video in which they tell their stories.

2. Sign up to volunteer for one of our ongoing restoration programs. Depending on the time of year, you’ll work alongside our restoration scientists germinating and planting native seedlings, gathering seeds, removing invasive weeds, or cleaning up trash.

3. Donate to support our work including our education programs, which bring 5,000 middle and high school students out on the marsh each year to perform citizen science and learn how to be the next generation of Bay Stewards.

4. Learn about the impact of trash on our Bay and find out why banning single use plastics at the source is the best way to keep our waterways clean.

5. Cigarette butts are toxic, plastic trash that spoils water quality and kills wildlife. Not to mention being gross. Check out our interactive map of some of the worst cigarette butt litter in the region.

3 Island Getaways in the Bay

Angel Island
You don’t need a plane ticket for an island getaway. Angel Island offers one of the island adventures you could have in San Francisco Bay. Photo: Jerry Ting

If you’ve been dreaming of a summer escape to an island paradise, but your piggy bank has other ideas, take heart. We’ve got our own islands right here in San Francisco Bay. You may even catch a balmy breeze, watch palm trees sway, and enjoy a stunning sunset. Now is a great time to visit some of the Bay’s best attractions. No plane ticket needed.

Angel Island State Park

Angel Island offers sweeping views of the Bay, terrific hikes, and campsites from which you can see the twinkling urban skylines that surround it. Pack your satchel with sleeping bag and supplies, and take the Blue and Gold ferry over. Recommended hikes include the five-mile perimeter trail and the trek up to Mt. Livermore, where hikers are treated to a panoramic view of the Bay and Golden Gate. Reserve a campsite online at Reserve America. Bring a gas stove or charcoal for cooking, as no fires are allowed.

Alameda

From its palm-tree lined boulevards, to its sleepy, small town atmosphere, Alameda offers a surprisingly different experience than the rest of the bustling Bay Area. Hipsters with children, who have fled SF for easier living and better schools, rub shoulders with retirees and Bay Area natives, giving the place a Mayberry-meets-Brooklyn vibe.  Yet it’s just minutes from downtown Oakland by car, and accessible by Ferry from SF.  Start at Crown Memorial State Beach and soak up some sunshine. It’s the largest, most stunning beach on the Bay, and a great place to walk and bike. Head over to St. George Spirits for one of the best tours (and tastings) in the Bay Area.  To get a real feel of the Alameda vibe, check out Speisekammer Restaurant, a homey spot with a great wine and beer selection.

Treasure Island

Come for the wine. Stay for the sunset. Since the Navy decommissioned Treasure Island in 1996, it’s exploded with housing, becoming a bedroom community to San Francisco. Surprisingly, it’s also become quite a wine destination, with several urban wineries setting up shop. Napa it’s not, but hey, you can get there on Muni! Take the Muni 108 from San Francisco’s Transbay Terminal and visit Treasure Island Wines, The Winery SF, Erista, and Bravium, and Fat Grape Wineries, most of which are clustered along 9th Street near Avenue of the Palms, and are open on weekends until 5 pm.

San Francisco Green Film Festival 2014

We’re excited to partner with the San Francisco Green Film Festival to co-present the film, Watermark, at the Roxie Theater in San Francisco on Sunday, June 1 2014 at 7:45 pm. The film is a visually stunning work that weaves together diverse global stories that show our relationship with water. The filmmakers’ message resonates within the San Francisco Bay Area in this time of severe drought, as it shows our dependence on and fight to control our most precious resource.

San Francisco Bay is an integral part of the Northern California’s watershed. The health of the Bay depends on the health of the overall water system which flows from the mountains west through the California Delta and out to the Bay.

You can check out the Green Film Festival’s other offerings and buy tickets here.

The festival runs from May 29-June 4 with robust programming for all who care about the environment and their place in it. The Green Film Festival was launched in 2011 to present new films and events that spotlight the worlds’ most urgent environmental issues and most innovative solutions. We hope to see you there.

The Case for Swift Action on Wetland Restoration

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently released its fifth Climate Change Assessment Report. The report says restoring shoreline areas and taking other ecosystem-based adaptation steps can help coastal communities prepare for climate change, and also provide mitigation benefits. See our previous blog on the subject.

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We need to act quickly because the effects of climate change are already being felt, as detailed in a recently released National Climate Assessment by the federal government.

Though wetland restoration will not be the only tool in our kit to prepare our communities for climate change, there is virtually no downside to performing this restoration now, and a tremendous potential upside on the mitigation front. New studies are proving the ability of wetlands to sequester carbon in larger amounts than previously thought.

The good news is that wetland restoration is proceeding at a faster pace around the Bay than ever before, while a potential ballot measure by the Bay Restoration Authority in November could help our region start new projects that await funding and finish projects in progress now.

Here’s a status update on several prominent planned and in progress restoration projects that hold the greatest potential to protect communities from sea level rise and flooding caused by climate change:

Bair Island – Since being saved from development in the 1990’s, Bair Island has been a focal point of restoration in San Francisco Bay. Last spring, a pedestrian bridge was installed to connect Inner Bair with Uccelli Blvd, and project managers expect to formally complete restoration of Bair Island’s 3,000 acres this fall. Bair Island is in Redwood City, a low-lying city of 79,000 people. Its restoration will be an important part of Redwood City’s readiness for sea level rise.

Hamilton Field – A model for reuse, Hamilton Field was once a bustling military base along the Marin County shoreline. Earlier this spring, the decade-long restoration project was completed, returning this site to its natural state. Hamilton is north of San Rafael and adjacent to Bell Marin Keys, a community of 700 homes that sits 10 feet or less above sea level.

Cullinan Ranch – Cullinan Ranch’s 1,500 acres of restorable habitat along Hwy 37 were saved from development in the 1980s. Situated north of the City of Vallejo, this site will provide much needed habitat while continuing to protect the highway from flooding and sea level rise.

Eden Landing – The 1,000+ acres of Eden Landing mix the remnants of industrial salt manufacturing with restoration to create 50 nesting islands for migratory shorebirds including the endangered California clapper rail. Public access trails are slated to open in 2015. Eden Landing is situated near the San Mateo Bridge.

Ravenswood Ponds – Adjacent to the Facebook campus at the foot of the Dumbarton Bridge in an area prone to flooding, Ravenswood is one of the most visible interactions between the Bay and the built environment. Major restoration was completed in 2010, but volunteers continue to work on restoring native plants to the site.

News of the Bay: May 9, 2014

Check out this edition of News of the Bay for breaking news affecting San Francisco Bay

4/22/2014
San Jose Mercury News
Failure of Warriors Waterfront Arena Latest in Long Line of Bay Development Defeats
The Golden State Warriors’ decision this week to abandon plans to build a new arena on piers along the San Francisco waterfront is not just a local development issue, but rather the latest example of a 40-year trend around San Francisco Bay.
No matter how rich or how politically connected, people who have proposed projects that environmentalists say are “filling the bay” or “walling off the bay” have nearly always seen those plans end in defeat.
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News of the Bay

4/22/2014
San Francisco Chronicle
Warriors Find they Can’t Beat the Bay
The San Francisco Bay wins.
That’s what Joe Lacob and the Warriors learned. Their plans for a waterfront arena foundered, despite endless bluster, almost from the start of planning and now apparently have been abandoned.
Read More>>

5/7/2014
San Francisco Chronicle
Global Warming Threat to West Spelled out in Report
Dwindling water for farms, longer fire seasons and coastal flooding of homes and businesses await California as climate change intensifies, according to a federal report released Tuesday that details how global warming is damaging every region of the country.
The third National Climate Assessment, compiled over four years by more than 300 scientists at the direction of Congress, said California’s farm industry, which provides more than half the nation’s fruits, nuts and vegetables, is particularly vulnerable. So are many cities along the coast, including San Francisco, that are already experiencing flooding at high tides as sea levels rise.
Read More>>

5/6/2014
KGO Radio
Santa Clara Bans Styrofoam Containers
On May 6, The Santa Clara City Council voted to ban Styrofoam food containers. As one of the last large cities in the South Bay to take this step, this is a big deal. As of this week, 62% of Bay Area residents live in a community that has banned Styrofoam food ware. The Bay Area has made great progress on bag bans too. Right now 76% of Bay Area residents live under a plastic bag ban.
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