Community Celebrates Lake Merritt Improvements

Kayaks, whale boats, and gondolas float down Lake Merritt Channel
Boats float through Lake Merritt Channel for the first time in 143 years (Photo courtesy of the City of Oakland)

Friday February 22nd was a day of celebration at Lake Merritt.  A much-anticipated effort to restore Lake Merritt and reconnect it with the Bay reached a major milestone when the channel under 12th Street was reopened.  (Read our previous blog about the history of Lake Merritt and this improvement project).  But for me, Friday was more than a celebration of the long-needed improvement of one of my favorite parts of the Bay; it was a poignant reminder of what people are capable of accomplishing when they join together and organize their community – just like Save The Bay is doing with our new initiative, For The Bay!

For The Bay is a way for residents from across the Bay Area to get involved and work together on behalf of the Bay.  San Francisco Bay provides habitat for hundreds of species of wildlife, helps keep our communities safe from severe storms and flooding, and supports our local economy by creating hundreds of thousands of jobs.  Because the Bay is our greatest natural and economic resource, we all need to help protect and restore the Bay for ourselves and the next generation.  By building a network of Bay Area residents who are For The Bay, we can reach a large number of people with breaking news, calls to action, volunteer activities, and opportunities to get involved.  As Friday’s celebration at Lake Merritt demonstrated, getting involved matters!

Here’s how Oakland residents made a difference: Though we call it a lake, Lake Merritt is actually a tidal lagoon connected to San Francisco Bay by a half-mile long channel that has been dammed since 1869.  In 2001 a group of Oakland residents responded to a private shoreline development proposal by submitting their own plan to restore the lake and create a public park space. Not only did this plan go through, but more than 80% of Oakland residents voted for a bond measure (Measure DD) to fund these improvements.  The result?  New local jobs, a cleaner Lake Merritt, and new pedestrian and bike trails that will eventually link with the Bay Trail.  What an inspirational example of the power people have to make an impact in their community!

Now I know you’re inspired by what Oakland accomplished, so take a minute to think about the Bay and what it means to you.  You and millions of other Bay Area residents walk, run, work, and play in and around San Francisco Bay every day.  To ensure a healthy future for San Francisco Bay and protect our quality of life, we need to act now to restore and protect the Bay.    Show your Bay Area pride and join thousands of residents who are For The Bay!