Notes from the Field | Ramping Up Restoration

Eden Landing
Save The Bay staff scoping new Eden E9/E14 restoration site.

I’m of the opinion that ambitious goals are a good thing, especially when they come with a realistic, coordinated plan for attainment. Save The Bay has come a long way since its start 52 years ago, yet we still maintain many of our grassroots values and principles.  In addition to continuing to advocate against reckless shoreline development and Bay fill, we’re dedicating significant effort to restoring wetlands.  This year we’ve set our most ambitious native species planting goal ever: 40,000 plants.

In more than one Notes From The Field blog post I’ve talked about how volunteers from the community can make a difference through Save The Bay’s Community-based Restoration program.  The Bay Area has seen decades of wetland loss due to urban development, agriculture, and industrial salt production, but in recent years we’ve actually regained wetlands around the Bay.  This reversal is certainly due in part to the policy and restoration work of Save The Bay and our thousands of dedicated volunteers. We and our many partners are working to restore 100,000 acres of wetlands around the Bay to keep it healthy for future generations of people and wildlife. To date, there are roughly 45,000 acres of restored and historic wetlands in the Bay Area, so we’re nearly halfway there.

Restoring 55,000 acres of wetlands will be no easy feat. It will require lots of time, energy, money, and cooperation among state and federal agencies, various NGOS, and the public. We’re excited about a new restoration project that could serve as a scalable model for future large projects to help our region reach the 100,000 acre goal. The project is in a remote area of Eden Landing Ecological Reserve in historic salt ponds E9/E14. Working in partnership with the California  Department of Fish and Wildlife and the South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project, we’ll be restoring our largest area of transition zone (the area of the marsh between water and land that provides wildlife habitat during high tides) ever. To accomplish this goal we’ll be using our tried and true manual planting method in addition to hydroseeding the entire transition zone, a process that involves spraying a liquid seed mix on the ground (essentially applying a layer of organic papier-mâché).   We’ll carefully document our activities and protocols used so that other organizations and agencies can replicate this process.

The future of Bay restoration is looking bright, but like most impactful projects, success is contingent upon the availability of funding. Of the 55,000 acres of wetlands that still need to be restored, 31,000 acres are already publically owned, and await funding. The remaining 24,000 still need to be acquired Save The Bay is working with a broad coalition of local organizations and agencies to support the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority. This is the first regional entity of its kind to focus exclusively on raising and allocating new funds for Bay restoration, public access, and flood control.  Stay tuned…