Bay restoration on the ballot

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From L-R: Save The Bay Executive Director David Lewis; State Assemblymember Sally Lieber, Ret.; Mountain View Mayor Pat Showalter; San Mateo County Supervisor and Bay Restoration Authority Governing Board Chair Dave Pine; State Coastal Conservancy Executive Officer Sam Schuchat; and Coastal Conservancy Deputy Executive Officer Amy Hutzel.

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.

In a nutshell, the Clean and Healthy Bay measure proposes a modest $12 parcel tax that would help fund much needed large scale wetland restoration projects around San Francisco Bay. If passed, this ballot measure would:

  • Make the Bay healthier for wildlife
  • Protect shoreline communities and vital infrastructure
  • Improve Bay water quality
  • Increase public access to trails and recreation

Living in the Bay Area comes with a great responsibility to protect San Francisco Bay itself. The Bay has long been central to our identity as a region and helps drive our region’s economic and social wealth.  Thanks to the Bay Restoration Authority we have a real shot at realizing this vision for a healthy Bay.

Passing this measure is no easy feat and success is far from certain. We’re going to need your help from now until June to support this critical piece of legislation.

This is the greatest opportunity in a generation to restore our Bay for people, wildlife, and our economy. Are you in?

News Roundup: The Future of Restoring SF Bay

 

Point of contact: Tides rush in at Sears Point on October 25, 2015. (Photo Credit: Marc Holmes/The Bay Institute)

After over 100 years, the Sonoma Land Trust achieved a major success in wetland restoration this past weekend: breaching the levee at Sears Point to reconnect 1,000 acres of wetlands to San Francisco Bay. This timely event comes within a week of the recently released update to the 1999 Baylands Ecosystem Habitat Goals Report, in which scientists urge accelerated restoration efforts over the next few decades in order to save over 80% of wetlands in the next 100 years.

We can only achieve this goal by acting now: if we continue to waver, the reality of climate change and rising sea levels would not only drive up the cost of restoration, but also place the ecosystem and communities of San Francisco Bay in a more vulnerable state. Projects like Sears Point are a crucial reminder to what we can do to improve health of the Bay; with over 30,000 acres of public land awaiting restoration, the major barrier is funding. That’s why we are supporting the Clean and Healthy Bay ballot measure in 2016, which will provide the resources needed to restore more of our Bay.

Here are some of the articles we think are integral to the conversation about the Bay’s future:

Ceremony near San Pablo Bay marks planned rebirth of wetlands
After 10 years of planning and three years of site preparation, it took less than a minute Sunday for workers to scrape a hole in a levee and begin the renewal of 1,000 acres of former North Bay marshlands. The mechanical excavator scooped aside a few buckets of dirt. Muddy water spurted and then flowed into the waiting basin. Now all that’s needed is time.

San Francisco Bay: Bird populations doubled since 2003 in vast salt pond restoration area
In a clear sign that the largest wetlands restoration project on the West Coast is already improving the health of San Francisco Bay, bird populations have doubled over the past 13 years on thousands acres of former industrial salt-evaporation ponds that ring the bay’s southern shoreline, scientists reported Thursday.

San Francisco Bay: Race to build wetlands is needed to stave off sea-level rise, scientists say
San Francisco Bay is in a race against time, with billions of dollars of highways, airports, homes and office buildings at risk from rising seas, surging tides and extreme storms driven by climate change. And to knock down the waves and reduce flooding, 54,000 acres of wetlands — an area twice the size of the city of San Francisco — need to be restored around the bay in the next 15 years.

Mercury News editorial: San Francisco Bay wetlands need to be restored
At stake are billions of dollars worth of highways, airports, businesses and homes on land immediately adjacent to the Bay. Water levels have already risen 8 inches since 1900, and they are expected to rise another foot in the next 20 years and two feet by 2050. It may not sound like much, but it could be disastrous.

Restoring wetlands is a green defense against rising bay
Editorial by California Assemblyman Tony Thurmond (D-Richmond) — Climate change will harm people from all nations. But one segment of humanity is on the front lines: the poor. From the increased frequency of mega-storms like the one that devastated the Philippines in 2013 to rising seas displacing people of low-lying nations such as Bangladesh, it is the poor who will lose their homes first and suffer the gravest misfortunes.

What can you do to help wetland restoration in San Francisco Bay? Support an upcoming ballot measure that will fund over $500 million dollars to protect the Bay’s shoreline.

Measure AA: By the Numbers

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If you’ve been following our work over the last few years, you’ve likely heard about our effort to secure long-term funding for Bay wetlands restoration. You may have even heard that the effort is gaining momentum and a measure will be on the June 2016 ballot. But what do you know about the Measure AA itself? And how will it impact the Bay?

Let’s break it down by the numbers:

36,000: Number of acres of wetlands sitting in public hands and awaiting funding for restoration. Scientists say that we need 100,000 acres of restored tidal marsh and flatland around the Bay in order to sustain a healthy ecosystem. Today we have only 44,000 acres of restored wetlands. That’s down from 190,000 acres back in 1850. So if we can pass this measure to fund the restoration of those 36,000 acres and perhaps even more, we will be that much closer to the 100,000 marker.

$12: The amount of the parcel tax, per year, that the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority is considering for the June ballot. The tax will fund wetlands restoration activities all around the Bay, including protecting and enhancing habitat, maintaining critical levees that provide habitat and public recreation, and installing critical trash collection facilities near the mouths of creeks that drain into the Bay. That’s only $1 per month to help keep the Bay healthy for future generations to enjoy.

$500 million: The amount of money the tax will bring in over 20 years. That’s $25 million every year. Here is a startling comparison for you: Every year, certain regions of the country receive significant federal funding for restoration activities. In 2014, Puget Sound received $25 million. The Chesapeake Bay received $100 million. The Great Lakes received $300 million. San Francisco Bay? $5 million. That sad fact is one reason why we are reliant on a stream of local and regional funding and why this parcel tax is necessary to help fund restoration activities.

66.6%: Percentage of voters in all nine Bay Area counties – San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Alameda, Contra Costa, Solano, Napa, Sonoma, and Marin – that need to support the measure in order for it to pass. It can fail in any one or more counties as long as the cumulative support is two-thirds, or 66.6%.

55: Inches of sea level rise – more than four feet – that scientists predict for the Bay Area by 2100. That would threaten 89 schools and healthcare facilities, 1780 miles of roads and highways, and 270,000 renters and homeowners who live along the immediate shoreline. Such a rise in sea level would also destroy more than 3,000 acres of wetland habitat. That is unless, of course, we improve our infrastructure and sea level rise adaptation efforts. Wetlands restoration can serve that purpose, providing a natural, cost-effective solution to rising tides by accumulating sediment over time and acting as a buffer against flooding and storm surge.

That’s Measure AA in a nutshell. For just $1 a month, we can act to restore the Bay and make sure it’s clean and resilient for future generations.

Pledge your support for Measure AA Now