Explore the Newly-Opened Trail at Bair Island

Image of Bair Island's new pedestrian bridge
The new pedestrian bridge – the public’s gateway to exploring Bair Island

Save The Bay was thrilled last week to join the Redwood City community in a celebration of an important milestone in the nearly-completed restoration of Bair Island. Last Monday morning, the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge celebrated the opening of a new pedestrian bridge, and the first segment of trails accessible to the public since restoration work began in 2007. [Click here to see the Palo Alto Daily News’ slideshow from the event]

Bair Island is a 3,000-acre series of wetlands along the Bay shoreline in Redwood City. Frequently called the “crown jewel” in the restoration of the South Bay, Bair Island is home to over 150 species of birds and wildlife – including several pods of adorable, yet skittish harbor seals who nurse their pups on the Island. With a history including salt production and agriculture, the current restoration project aims to bring back the natural functions of this ecosystem by punching holes in the old levees and reconnecting the tides to allow the return of Bay tidal marsh and the endangered species that depend on them.

While there is still some work to be done before full public access is opened (expected to be late 2013 or early 2014), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decided it was ready to open up a 1-mile trail loop for the public to visit the area and get a peek at the restoration work underway. This loop goes around a triangular-shaped area of Inner Bair Island called Area D.

Area D has subsided over the years, and so project planners raised the elevation with dredge material from the nearby Port of Redwood City. The area is currently covered in water and shorebirds. As construction crews complete the final breaches of the old levees of Inner Bair Island later this year, the water will drain out and the area is intended to be upland habitat for Bay wildlife.

How to visit Bair Island – the 1-mile Area D loop trail:

There is currently only one way to access Bair Island – through the new pedestrian bridge that connects Uccelli Boulevard in Redwood City with Inner Bair Island.

Map of Bair Island's Area D
Image courtesy of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service / Don Edwards SF Bay National Wildlife Refuge

Directions:

(Note: This trail area is so new that it doesn’t appear on Google Maps. If you want to plug an address into your GPS or navigation device, use the intersection of Bair Island Road and Uccelli Boulevard in Redwood City)

  • From Highway 101, take the Whipple Ave. exit
  • Go east and turn right on E. Bayshore Road
  • Passing the car dealership and old movie theater, use the new roundabout and continue on to Bair Island Road
  • In one quarter of a mile you will see the Don Edwards National Wildlife Refuge parking lot on your right. Make sure to drive slowly, as the sign is easy to miss. There will likely be construction equipment in the lot, but you shouldn’t have trouble finding a parking spot
  • Park and walk back to Bair Island Road. As you turn right, the road becomes Uccelli Boulevard. In about 400 feet, you will see the new pedestrian bridge on your left. Cross over the bridge and you can walk around the 1-mile Area D loop trail

Additional notes

  • Note that due to the sensitivity of this wetland restoration area, dogs are not allowed
  • For boaters, note that the changing hydrology associated with the restoration has created temporary fast-moving water in Smith and Corkscrew Sloughs that can be unsafe. Boaters can read more on the website of the Bair Island Aquatic Center

To learn more about Bair Island and Redwood City residents’ successful effort to save the area from development, read “Bair Island Restoration Nearing Completion” here on Save The Bay’s blog. You can also visit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife / Don Edwards SF Bay National Wildlife Refuge’s official website for the site, which includes updates on the current construction work.

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!