Join us for Coastal Cleanup Day in Oakland

Damon Slough
Join us September 15th for Coastal Cleanup Day at Damon Slough in Oakland.

Last weekend I grabbed some sandwiches with a few friends and headed to the beach for one last hoorah before the end of summer. I can longingly recall the crisp beach air and the sound of the waves breaking on the beach from that trip. Needless to say, this precious memory does not include the trash I saw scattered across the beach or the feeling of a cigarette butt squishing between my toes. On Saturday September 15, 2012, I will once again head to the shoreline, but this time I will join tens of thousands of California residents for Coastal Cleanup Day.

How does all that trash end up on our shorelines? Some of it is litter, but not all. Plastic bags, polystyrene (plastic food containers, including Styrofoam), cigarette butts, old toys, chip bags, and other small trash items blow out of garbage bins and into storm drains, creeks and rivers. All this trash is slowly clogging our water ways and harming our Bay. As an advocate for a clean and healthy Bay, Save The Bay is passionate about working with the California Coastal Commission to help make Coastal Cleanup Day one of the largest volunteer events in the world.

Last year over 62,000 volunteers came out and removed almost 600,000 pounds of trash! Join us this year as we challenge ourselves to remove even more trash at Damon Slough in Oakland, which was voted the #1 Bay Trash Hot Spot in 2011. Together we can clean the shoreline and create healthier water ways for both humans and animals.

Inspired to help clean up our Bay shoreline? Sign up here to join us on Saturday, September 15, 2012 in Oakland.

– Emily Mathews, Habitat Restoration Volunteer

Notes from the Field: Celebrating National River Cleanup Day

Volunteers spent National River Cleanup Day picking up trash at Damon Slough in Oakland.

On May 19, 2012 over 30 volunteers converged to Damon Slough, a designated Save The Bay trash hotspot, in the Martin Luther King Jr. Regional Shoreline in Oakland to get out in the marsh and help out our beloved San Francisco Bay.  Many hands make light work and STB Volunteers proved it again by removing approximately 400lbs of trash in just under 3 hours.  Click the photo to watch a video of the event.

Every day, runoff pollution from our streets and neighborhoods, such as plastic bags, Styrofoam containers, cigarette butts and chip bags, blow into storm drains and flow through creeks, where it discharges into the Bay untreated. This is the single largest source of Bay pollution, and there are many consequences:

  • Twenty-four waterways that flow into the Bay are so filled with trash that they violate the federal Clean Water Act standards
  • Trash kills wildlife, smothers wetlands and spoils water quality
  • Up to 70% of the toxics in the San Francisco Bay like oil, sewage, mercury, pharmaceuticals and e-waste come from polluted runoff
  • Save The Bay estimates that one million bags end up in the Bay every year

Despite all these daunting facts and numbers, there is hope!

Our dynamic wetlands can sequester a lot of these pollutants, break down some over time and physically capture litter allowing inspired volunteers a chance to right our wrongs and clean up our mess.  The immediate impact is profound after volunteer efforts like those at Damon Slough.  Where plastic trash once glistened in the sun, the water and Pickleweed are clearly visible after the hard work of our volunteers.  It’s not the most glamorous work, but STB volunteers come and leave with smiles, knowing we can make a positive difference one slough at a time.

Click here to learn more about preventing trash from entering our waterways in the first place.

Marc Siedel, Restoration Projects Team Leader

Wonky Wednesday: Gearing Up for a Clean-Up at Oakland’s Damon Slough

Trash washed up along the shoreline of Damon Slough

Here at Save The Bay, we have been excitedly planning our clean-up at Damon Slough this Saturday. Located in Oakland’s Martin Luther King Jr. Shoreline, Damon Slough was the winner of our annual Bay Trash Hot Spots contest in 2011, beating out other trash-clogged waterways like San Jose’s Guadalupe River and Pulgas Creek in San Mateo County.

Those who visit this piece of the East Bay shoreline know that Damon Slough needs all the help it can get. This waterway is a challenging but hardly unique Bay Area landmark. With litter from the nearby Oakland Coliseum complex, a flea market and surrounding streets draining into this waterway, this sensitive slough is often inundated with trash.

All around our heavily built-out urban landscape, there are channelized and buried creeks and sloughs, where historically water would flow from the hills towards San Francisco Bay. Working at Save The Bay, I have become much more attuned to these often obscure yet interesting parts of our region’s neglected geography. The Oakland Museum of California has a great Creek Mapping Project that can help you find the buried creek in your neighborhood.

Here are some of the things we all can do to help reduce pollution in the Bay:

  • Reduce the amount of trash we generate and make sure our trash doesn’t end up in the Bay. Switch to reusable bags, recycle wherever possible and compost.
  • Advocate for tougher policies and regulations to reduce trash flowing to the Bay. Sign Save The Bay’s online petition calling on Bay Area mayors and city councils to pass legislation to target commonly littered items such as single-use bags and Styrofoam food ware.
  • Volunteer for one of Save The Bay’s monthly cleanup and restoration events.

– Stephen Knight, Political Director


Wonky Wednesday: Spring Cleaning at Damon Slough

Help clean up Damon Slough on May 19th.

May 19th is National Rivers Day, and this year Save The Bay is celebrating by hosting a clean-up at Damon Slough. This marsh along Oakland’s Martin Luther King Jr. Regional Shoreline won our 2011 Adopt-A-Hot-Spot contest thanks to all your votes, and Save The Bay has committed to hosting two clean-ups at this location in 2012. Please join us at our first event on May 19th!

Due to its highly urbanized surroundings, Damon Slough is a consistent presence on our annual Bay Trash Hot Spots list. The Coliseum is a huge source of trash, which blows directly into the Slough after games and other events. Chemicals, heavy metals, and trash from inland streets and storm drains flow into Damon Slough during rain storms. Plastics are a large portion of the trash polluting this area, a good portion of which is plastic bags. Hopefully, this will soon change – Oakland, along with every Alameda County city, is banning plastic bags from large grocers and pharmacies starting January 1st, 2013.

Despite the ongoing challenge of trash in Damon Slough, these wetlands still support a wide variety of native wildlife, including brown pelicans, lined shore crabs, and California bee plant. The important role that Damon Slough plays in protecting Bay wildlife makes it even more important to prevent trash and other pollutants from threatening this area. Learn more about Damon Slough and Save The Bay’s restoration work there by exploring our Virtual Marsh.

And don’t forget to sign up for the May 19th clean-up – see you there!


Save The Bay’s Trash Contest: Fun with Garbage

If you are reading this, you already know that trash is a serious pollution threat to people and wildlife in San Francisco Bay. This year, Save The Bay’s annual Bay Trash Hot Spots lists 225 creeks and shoreline areas identified by the cities themselves as having high levels of plastic bags, cigarette butts, fast food containers, old tires and more. Trash is a dangerous pollutant that harms wildlife, spoils water quality, threatens public health, and smothers sensitive wetland habitat.

In short, trash is a drag.

But we wanted to have some fun with trash this year. So we’re having a trash cleanup contest! Save The Bay is asking you to vote for one of seven selected Bay Trash Hot Spots for us to “adopt” and clean up in 2011. The contest sites were chosen based on several criteria, including proximity to heavily-used areas and major transportation corridors, habitat for endangered species, and Clean Water Act violations – and geographic distribution around the Bay Area.

So please vote for your favorite trash hot spot at And tell your friends – you don’t want your favorite spot to lose, right?

The contest sites are:

1. Damon Slough – if you drive 880, you know this spot. It is a mess, in part because it flows next to the Oakland Coliseum and Oracle Arena parking lots. I’m not blaming the Raider Nation – unless the can control the wind.

2. The Hayward Regional Shoreline, near where we are working to at Eden Landing Ecological Reserve to restore critical habitat for wildlife – not for garbage.

3. Fremont’s Mission Creek flows through the city’s Central Park, a major recreational area.

4. If you are tired of seeing San Jose’s Coyote Creek on our Bay Trash Hot Spot list, then vote for this spot and we’ll help clean it up.

5. The Guadalupe Slough Baylands are located within sensitive marsh habitat directly adjacent to the Bay. Bay critters do NOT like trash!

6. Redwood Creek flows through downtown Redwood City and accumulates trash from commercial and residential corridors. The creek is next to Bair Island, part of the Don Edwards Wildlife Refuge which is being restored to tidal wetlands. Plastic and tidal wetlands do not mix!

7. Colma Creek flows through a variety of urban areas in South San Francisco and San Mateo County, including major commercial zones, high-traffic areas, and pedestrian corridors. Picking up trash all along the way.

While we try to have some fun with trash this year, Save The Bay is committed to working with cities to help stop trash at its source – by passing bans or fees on commonly littered items such as plastic bags, Styrofoam and cigarette butts, and installing storm drains devices to stop trash from flowing to the Bay and ocean. The most common litter items picked up in California last year included cigarette butts, food wrappers and containers and plastic bags. In fact, Save The Bay estimates that more than one million plastic bags pollute the Bay each year. Yuck.

The 225 hot spots come from new Water Board regulations require cities to eliminate hundreds of trash hot spots around the Bay. Cities in Santa Clara County identified 74 trash hot spots, with Alameda County cities picking 69 trash hot spots to call their own. There are 49 hot spots in Contra Costa County, and cities in San Mateo County submitted 31 hot spots to the Water Board. Fairfield, Suisun City and Vallejo are the three cities in Solano County that must comply with the Water Board’s provisions – these three cities selected a total of 10 trash hot spots.

We are excited that our Bay Trash Hot Spots event has grown over the years and is now the cities themselves (who never liked our calling out sites in their community, and who can blame them) that are identifying these trash-filled spots. So please, vote today and stand with Save The Bay against trash.

— Stephen Knight, Political Director