Coastal Cleanup Day 2014

Students clean up MLK Jr Shoreline on Coastal Cleanup Day.

Save The Bay marked the 30th annual International Coastal Cleanup Day on Saturday with volunteer cleanups in Oakland and San Jose. In Oakland, 100 volunteers picked up 750 pounds of trash along the Martin Luther King Jr Shoreline. The 30 volunteers that joined cleanup efforts along Coyote Creek in San Jose picked up 600 pounds of trash, including several heavy items such as tires, a grocery cart, and a microwave.

We were joined at both sites by REI, which presented a $25,000 grant to support our Habitat Restoration work. Volunteers enjoyed free t-shirts and water bottles from REI, as well as food and coffee donated by Safeway, Trader Joe’s, and Starbucks.

Coastal Cleanup Day is a great opportunity for local residents to witness the impact of toxic trash on our region. Not only do you get to help clean up our creeks and our Bay shoreline, but you can see just how difficult it can be to remove trash once it enters our waterways. That’s why Save The Bay continues to work with local governments to pass strong policies to stop toxic trash at the source.

Want to learn more about the most collected litter item? Check out our interactive map of some of the worst cigarette butt litter hot spots, based on data collected at Coastal Cleanup Day 2013.

Thanks to all of the volunteers who joined us on Saturday! Check out these photos from Coastal Cleanup Day 2014.

Removing a Ton of Trash… Literally

Try to imagine a ton of trash. Now imagine that trash strewn across just a half-mile section of a creek that flows to San Francisco Bay. Not a pretty sight, but that’s what 66 volunteers encountered on National River Cleanup Day at Coyote Creek in San Jose. Save The Bay, along with local community group  Friends of Watson Park collected roughly 2,350 pounds of trash from the banks of the creek, which flows alongside Watson Park.

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It was heart breaking to see the amount of trash polluting this section of Coyote Creek. Many of our local creeks flow directly into the Bay untreated, which means trash and other pollutants also flow into the Bay and its surrounding wetlands, impacting wildlife and presenting a public health threat to trail users.  Trash is a quality of life and environmental issue that has become so serious around the Bay that the Regional Water Quality Control Board – an agency that enforces water pollution laws in our region – is requiring cities to eliminate trash from their storm drains, creeks, and Bay shoreline areas by 2022. Not only that, cities have to show that they’ve made some progress and reduced trash by 40% by July of this year. That means the City of San Jose must work quickly to find innovative solutions to the trash problem we witnessed on Saturday morning. It’s not an easy task, but it’s an important one.

Events like National River Cleanup Day provide an opportunity to highlight the trash problem in our creeks and the places most in need of attention. Removing the trash is important, but the ultimate solution is preventing it from ending up there in the first place. That’s why Save The Bay has supported cities in banning plastic bags and Styrofoam, and why we are now working to keep cigarette butts out of the Bay. Check out our Pollution Prevention page to learn more about what we’re doing to keep pollution out of the Bay:


Big Wins for a Cleaner Bay in San Jose and on the Peninsula

Thanks to the San Jose City Council, brighter days are ahead for Coyote Creek, which flows more than 60 miles to the Bay. (Photo by Dawn Ellner)
Thanks to the San Jose City Council, brighter days are ahead for Coyote Creek, which flows more than 60 miles to the Bay. (Photo by Dawn Ellner)

Yesterday was an exciting day for Save The Bay’s multi-year efforts to rid the Bay of trash. San Jose’s City Council voted 9-2 to move forward with an ordinance to ban polystyrene (Styrofoam) food ware. Once implemented, San Jose will be the largest city in the country to ban this creek-clogging, wildlife-choking product!

Two years in the making, this is a big win for the Bay and especially San Jose’s Styrofoam-clogged Coyote Creek. Running more than 60 miles from the Diablo Range, through Morgan Hill and San Jose down to the Bay, Coyote Creek is one of the few remaining homes for threatened steelhead and salmon in the South Bay. The trash pollution situation had gotten so bad that the Creek was listed by regulatory agencies as a “303(d) impaired waterway” in violation of the Clean Water Act. We expect the city’s ban on polystyrene, like its recent ban on plastic bags, will have a significant positive impact on the health of both Coyote Creek and San Francisco Bay.

If the win in San Jose wasn’t already enough, the Peninsula city of San Carlos voted 4-1 on Monday night to join the regional movement to ban plastic bags! Once the city’s ban is implemented on July 1, San Carlos will join over a dozen other cities in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties in banning this common litter item from the shores of our Bay. Its neighbor, Redwood City, will be voting on banning bags on March 11.

Over 50% of Bay Area residents now live in areas that are covered by plastic bag bans, and more than 30% of jurisdictions have bans on polystyrene. We’re going to keep working hard to ban these destructive single-use products until we stop finding them clogging our creeks, littering our shoreline and harming Bay wildlife.

Want to hear about important wins and opportunities to make the Bay cleaner in your city? Make sure you are signed up for our BaySaver Action Alerts!

Weekly Roundup February 15, 2013

weekly roundupSports columnist and Bay Area native Ann Killion made a strong argument against the proposed Warriors arena in the San Francisco Chronicle. Five weeks after the Overseas Reymar collision, shipping officials passed new restrictions on large ships sailing near the Bay Bridge. In San Jose, volunteers descended upon Coyote Creek as part of the city’s Clean Creeks, Healthy Communities program, collecting data as well as trash.  Styrofoam was the prize of the day because San Jose has been considering banning it for two years, and the City Council will finally put it to a vote on Feb. 26.  In coming years Cullinan Ranch in westernmost Solano County will  once again becomes tidal wetlands.  The Bay Area has uniquely positioned itself ahead of California overall, assuming a “burden of leadership” in planning beyond sustainability for global resilience.  Seeking to join many of their coastal California counterparts, members of the Sacramento City Council are advocating for a ban on plastic shopping bags.  The Watershed Project, a Richmond-based nonprofit, has plans to restore lost habitat for Olympia oysters along the Point Pinole shoreline in Richmond.  This week, the Bay Area Stormwater Management Agencies Association (BASMAA) issued a statement urging city governments that have not already done so to approve bans on the use of plastic bags.

San Francisco Chronicle 2/14/13
Warriors arena would block beauty of bay
After a breathtakingly fast start, the Warriors were bound to cool off. To come back to earth. I’m not talking about this season’s performance on the court. I’m talking about the organization’s proposed waterfront arena.

Contra Costa Times 2/14/13
Coast Guard, shipping officials pass new rules to restrict large ships from sailing near Bay Bridge in heavy fog
Hoping to reduce the risk of major oil spills in San Francisco Bay, the Coast Guard and top shipping officials Thursday passed new rules to restrict cargo ships, oil tankers and other large vessels from sailing near the Bay Bridge in heavy fog. The action comes five weeks after an empty oil tanker, the Overseas Reymar, sideswiped a tower of the Bay Bridge near Yerba Buena Island.

San Jose Mercury News 2/9/13
Cleanup of San Jose Creek yields squishy surprises
For nearly three hours, Brad Hunt had been squishing around in the mud and muck along Coyote Creek, stooping every few seconds to retrieve another piece of trash, shifting each sodden coffee cup or soiled diaper into one of several bags set up along the creek bank — like a forensic technician collecting clues at the scene of a crime. “I think people don’t really realize where their trash is going most of the time,” Hunt said. As he spoke, a piece of clear plastic floated down from the tree canopy behind him, settling onto the surface of the muddy water. Guessing that it was discarded from a car on the Interstate-280 overpass nearby, he watched it float slowly toward San Francisco Bay.
Read More>>

Fairfield – Suison Daily Republic 2/14/13
Cullinan Ranch will be place for wildlife – and people
Don Brubaker drove along a levee and pointed out the flat expanse of pickleweed and water in front of him and the hills of Napa and Sonoma counties miles away. “All the way to those foothills over there was an estuary,” said Brubaker, who manages the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge.
Read More>> 2/8/13
Why San Francisco can lead the way on resiliency planning
If climate predictions are correct, Silicon Valley — already below sea level and estimated by the Army Corps of Engineers to have nearly 260 companies contributing over a trillion dollars to regional GDP — is at tremendous risk. In light of this, the Bay Area has both a sincere need and obligation to plan more resilient infrastructure and physical space.
Read More>>

The Sacramento Bee 2/9/13
Plastic bag ban could be in Sacramento’s future
It’s an age-old question that could be headed toward oblivion in Sacramento: paper or plastic? Seeking to join many of their coastal California counterparts, two members of the City Council are advocating for a ban on plastic shopping bags at large stores in the city that sell groceries. That might include not just grocery outlets but also big retailers such as Target, CVS and Wal-Mart.
Read More>>

KQED 2/11/13
Bringing Oysters Back to the Bay
During the Gold Rush, the San Francisco Bay’s native oyster habitat was all but wiped out due to overharvesting and hydraulic mining washing sediment onto the bay floor. But a Richmond-based nonprofit has plans to restore the shellfish’s lost habitat along the Point Pinole shoreline.
Read More>>

Belmont Patch 2/14/13
Stormwater Management Agency: Plastic Bags Clog Drains, Pollute Water
Though the counties of San Mateo and Santa Clara have both banned the use of plastic bags in unincorporated areas, there are still some cities in the South Bay and Peninsula that have not done so at the city level. This week, the Bay Area Stormwater Management Agencies Association (BASMAA) issued a statement urging city governments that have not already done so to approve such bans.
Read More>>




Hot Spot or Not? Bay Trash Hot Spots 2012

Hot Spot or Not
Cast your vote for the trashiest waterway around the Bay.

Remember that website Hot or Not? You know, where people upload photos of themselves and users vote whether they are “HOT” or “NOT”. That site was pretty trashy, but we’ve got something even trashier…

Bay Trash Hot Spots 2012: Hot Spot or Not?

Instead of people, you get to vote on the trashiest waterways around the Bay. Here’s the deal:

Each year, Save The Bay releases a list of Bay Trash Hot Spots highlighting the most polluted waterways around the Bay. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Clean Water Act, yet toxic trash continues to plague our waterways, flow into the Bay, and out into the ocean. Save The Bay’s five Trash Hot Spots are each located in one of the top ten cities that contribute the most trash to the Bay from storm water systems, and are all in violation of the Clean Water Act.

This year’s Hot Spots are:

• Coyote Creek in San Jose
• Damon Slough in Oakland
• The Hayward shoreline
• Baxter Creek in Richmond
• San Tomas Aquino Creek in Santa Clara

Our fearless Policy Associate Allison Chan took a Tour de Trash  to scope out these sites and snapped photos to share with you. We’ve uploaded the photos into our own ‘Hot Spot or Not’ contest. Now’s the time to vote!

We’ll tally the votes and adopt the winning Hot Spot for cleanups in 2013. Be sure to vote and share with your friends. You may even find a spot that is actually hot…

Cast your vote today!