Guest Post | Restoring the Bay Trail with Acterra

Acterra volunteers
Volunteers restore part of the Bay Trail in East Palo Alto.

Over the past year, Save The Bay and Acterra have been working together to restore part of the Bay Trail at the Faber Tract in East Palo Alto. Talia Kirschner is a Restoration Technician with Acterra who works with volunteers to restore critical habitat. 

Acterra and Save the Bay have joined forces to ramp up restoration and community-based stewardship within the baylands of East Palo Alto.  With funding from the Cosco Busan oil spill settlement and the Coastal Conservancy, we are enhancing a 1.3 mile stretch of the Bay Trail spanning from the Friendship Bridge at San Francisquito Creek to Cooley Landing.   

The Bay Trail in East Palo Alto runs along the Don Edwards National Wildlife Refuge, traversing some of the last remaining salt marsh in the San Francisco Bay.  It intersects with the Faber tract, where Save the Bay has been working for several years now.  This important natural space provides critical habitat for hundreds of species of shore birds, fish, and mammals including the endangered salt marsh harvest mouse and California clapper rail. The trail is part of a larger recreational corridor that will ultimately link the shorelines of all nine Bay Area Counties.

Acterra is leading community efforts to clean up the Bay Trail, remove noxious weeds from sensitive habitat, and landscape key areas of the trail with a diverse palette of locally native plants that provide valuable food and shelter for wildlife.  Save the Bay has been an integral partner to these efforts by co-leading semi-annual community workdays and growing baylands plants for the project at its native plant nursery.  Acterra’s native plant nursery, in turn, provides complementary uplands plants for the project that are sourced from our local watersheds.

The project offers a variety of volunteer opportunities to local youth and adults through community workdays, Citizen Science sessions to monitor water quality, and educational events.  To get involved, please contact taliak (at) acterra.org or check the Acterra website at www.acterra.org for upcoming events.

– Talia Kirschner, Acterra

Prior to joining Acterra in 2013, Talia worked as the development manager at Slide Ranch, an environmental education center in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. She has also worked in the for-profit sector doing ecological landscaping and native plant installation and maintenance.  Her volunteer work in wildlife monitoring at Point Reyes National Seashore fueled her enthusiasm for wetlands conservation and ecology, which she has been delighted to apply along the wetlands of the Peninsula. 

Increased Flooding: Coming to a City Near You

Earlier this month in Redwood City the high water levels during the King Tides event caused major flooding in several parts of town – soaking cars parked at a marina with several feet of water and restricting access and cancelling programs at the nearby San Mateo County Women’s Correctional Facility. CBS 5’s news team captured the story in their news segment above.

Increased flooding is not just something that will happen in the future as Bay water levels continue to rise. It is already happening now – with or without the King Tides. Just over a week after the extreme high tides left the Bay Area, headlines in the San Mateo County community of East Palo Alto announced that heavy rain mixed with the usual high tides caused flood water in San Francisquito Creek to overtop the levee in two places, forcing the evacuation of seven homes, and damaging one to the point of being uninhabitable.

Thankfully, workers from several agencies were able to get to the area quickly and perform emergency repairs, but city officials and residents know this is not the last they have heard from this tidal creek, which is notorious for flooding thousands of properties over the years. East Palo Alto is now checking with county and state officials to find funding for the repairs. Meanwhile, a multi-city, $17 million effort is underway for a more long-term fix.

This is just a snapshot of two of the over 100 cities that make up the Bay Area. As the CBS 5 story notes, San Mateo County has more property at risk from sea level rise than any other county in California, but that does not mean that the costs to other Bay Area counties will not also be enormous. The costs and impacts are widespread and quickly adding up.