Coming soon… Bay Day 2017!

Bay Day 2017

The Bay Area is full of stunning views, amazing nature, vibrant cities, diverse communities, and a beautiful Bay that connects us all. We love this place, and it wouldn’t be the same without San Francisco Bay. That’s why we’re inviting you to celebrate the second annual Bay Day on Saturday, October 7

Last year, thousands of people took part in over 50 events across 39 cities, and 7 counties declared Bay Day as an official annual celebration. This year’s Bay Day is set to be bigger and better!

So, stay tuned for more information about outdoor and on-water activities, hands-on programs from our partners, and free and discounted events happening around the Bay on Oct 7! In the meantime, don’t forget to add Bay Day to your calendar.

We hope you’ll join us in marking this one-of-a-kind regional holiday this fall.

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Facing Down the Threat of Phytophthora

MLKNursery

While Save The Bay is known primarily for policy and advocacy work, our restoration and education programs have grown immensely in the past twenty years. In addition to restoring the Bay’s wetland ecosystem by planting transition zone species, we also grow all of the plants ourselves in our native plant nurseries at the MLK Jr. Shoreline in Oakland and the Palo Alto Baylands in the Peninsula.

Each year we typically grow and install 35,000 plants into the ground. And last year we actually surpassed our annual totals by planting 100,000 native seedlings to complete several large-scale restoration projects, including the Horizontal Levee Project at the Oro Loma Sanitary District!

When I first joined the team as the Nursery and Habitat Restoration Fellow at the beginning of 2017, I knew planting native species and teaching students about Bay ecology would be a large part of my job. But, I never thought I’d learn as much as I did about plant disease.

One of the biggest threats native plant nurseries face today is the spread of plant pathogens, partially as a result of increased global trade and transportation. Right now in the Bay Area, the invasive pathogen that is on everyone’s radar is a genus called Phytophthora.

There are currently over 150 different documented species of Phytophthora worldwide, some of which are lethal to many native plant communities in our state. This water mold, or oomycete, causes a plant’s roots to rot which kills the entire organism.

One well-known example is Phytophthora ramorum, or more commonly referred to as Sudden Oak Death, has killed over three million oak trees in California. Another more recently identified species is Phytophthora tentaculata, which was first spotted in California in 2012 on a sticky monkey-flower (Diplacus aurantiacus). Although more research needs to be done, researchers don’t know all of the plants that P. tentaculata can live on, it is highly likely that many California native plants can act as its host.

fightingphyto_mlk

Unfortunately, the cost of eradicating Phytophthora once it has spread into wildlands is very high and the process is extremely difficult. But, if left untreated and uncontrolled, Phytophthora activity could increase and cause even more harm to native plant communities throughout California. In other words, transmitting Phytophthora to a restoration site would be a worst case scenario. That’s why prevention is key.

In addition to following a set of best management practices recommended by plant pathologists, Save The Bay is now leading a movement to tackle Phytophthora prevention head-on, using innovative and scientific techniques including:

  • reconfiguring our nurseries and updating porous surfaces so everything can be sanitized
  • requiring all nursery visitors to spray the bottoms of their shoes with an isopropyl alcohol solution to avoid tracking in contaminated dirt
  • mobilizing volunteers to help clean the pots used to grow and transplant our native species during community restoration events.

To further reduce the risk of plant-killing pathogens from invading our nurseries, we searched for a clean, uncontaminated soil source to use (ideally before the start of the 2017 planting season). During our search, we quickly realized that a Phytophthora-free soil currently doesn’t exist in the market. So, we decided to start making our own!

Soil BBQ

Together alongside Save The Bay’s Nursery Manager Jessie Olson, we worked together to invent a solution that would allow us to heat large quantities of moist soil at 140 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes with steam — an environment that would kill any present water mold.

33314422745_800736afbe_oUsing a design pioneered by The Watershed Nursery as a guideline, we rigged together parts from a propane barbecue, steel trash can, and other heavy duty materials to create a soil treatment system. You know the cooling process is complete when you smell that fresh and organic compost smell!

Constructing a closed heat treatment system like this, let alone three, is a huge milestone that many nurseries in the region have not yet reached. Although it required some trial and error to assemble and operate (who knew you could cut copper pipe with a PVC pipe cutter?), this was an exciting cutting-edge project for me to be part of.

Best of all, starting this season we will be able to propagate all of our new seedlings in our clean soil! Or put another way, in laymen terms, Save The Bay now has the cleanest dirt in the Bay Area!

Top 4 bayside restaurants and bars in San Francisco

The City of San Francisco is not only home to some of the world’s finest and diverse cuisine, spectacular views of San Francisco Bay are also visible throughout the city. Here are a few of our favorite bayside spots to grab a drink and a bite to eat in the City by the Bay.

  1. The Ramp 

    The Ramp (b)
    Originally a Mission Bay bait shop in the 50’s, The Ramp now provides a variety of eats and drinks. On warmer weekend days, they fire up the outdoor grill and get people dancing with live Salsa or Brazilian music. So grab some Huevos Rancheros and mull over their drink menu. They have 14 beers on tap and a variety of fruit-filled cocktails. I’d recommend trying the Mango Margarita or Jalapeno Grapefruit Martini.  Woody Allen also filmed a scene from Blue Jasmine at this location.

  2. Waterfront Restaurant 

    waterfront5 (P)
    Are you looking for something fancier and a bit upscale? Since 1969, the Waterfront Restaurant serves the tastiest locally sourced farm-to-table produce and sustainable seafood in the area. Some local favorites include Handmade Seafood Linguini Lobster and a Dungeness Crab Sandwich. Wash it all down with a Ginger Collins or Pomegranate Margarita. Its waterfront location along the Embarcadero offers beautiful views of the Bay, making this the perfect place for an enchanting night out with friends and loved ones.

  3. Greens Restaurant 

    Tea1 (B)
    Owned and operated by the San Francisco Zen Center since 1979, Greens Restaurant is considered one of San Francisco’s finest vegetarian restaurants. Its flavor-packed menu will surely tantalize your taste buds. Enjoy some our favorites like the Farm Fresh Asparagus appetizer or the Wild Mushrooms Sheppard’s Pie. You can complement those dishes with a nice glass of pinot noir or a cup of organic loose leaf tea while gazing at the Golden Gate Bridge.

  4. Ferry Building 

    Ferry building (B)
    Nestled alongside the shores of San Francisco, the Ferry Building is home to a vibrant artisan food community and features a variety of Bay Area shops, regional microbreweries and wineries, and local eateries.  The palpable buzz in the building and its structure harkens back to a different age and captures that once port city feel, making it a unique place to visit. While you’re there, try the modern Vietnamese food at the Slanted Door, seafood at the Hog Island Oyster Company, or grab a delicious burger at the American Eatery. Additionally, on Saturdays, the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture (CUESA) hosts a weekly farmers market in the plaza.

Ecoliteracy: Are People Like Squashes?

EB1

An old zen tale

Allow me to bend your ear with an old Buddhist fable. There once was an old monastery with a garden out back. One day, the head monk heard an assortment of shouting coming from the garden. Upon inspection, the monk observed that all the squashes were fighting. The wise master asked them to calm down and touch the tops of their heads. The squashes were surprised to find vines attached to their tops. They all followed their vines back to one big plant. The squashes celebrated joyfully with the realization that they were part of the same interconnected family.

People, like the squashes in the beginning of the tale, often forget that they are connected to nature and each other. We repeatedly pollute and destroy natural environments that we perceive as unrelated. But scientists and ecologists have come to understand the connectivity of all living organisms and their related natural environments. The world is really just a bundle of overlapping ecosystems. To hurt one, is to hurt the other.

Ecopsychologists seek to understand why human behaviors continually damage the earth. If self-preservation is one of our most embedded natural instincts, then why would we consciously hurt ourselves? In other words, why are we constantly hurting natural environments that will in turn hurt people? Like the squashes, are we simply unaware that we are connected to nature?

To answer these questions, we’ll turn to the original ecologists—the Buddhists. Many in this tradition argue that our anthropocentric and self-centered mindsets create a lack of feeling and connection to the natural world, leading to the delusion of separation. This rift then creates a fragmented self, separate from other things. Conflicts then arise in this fragmented state, between the “self” and the “other.”

 We all could use a tall glass of ecoliteracy

Chances are you probably won’t be able to find the word “Ecoliteracy” in the dictionary. Ecoliteracy is just a modern scrunching together of two words: Ecology—relations and interactions between organisms and their environments, and Literacy—the state of being literate. Ecoliteracy can plainly be defined as the ability to comprehend the many interrelated natural systems that maintain the earth. Educators in the field of ecoliteracy, aim to teach awareness and comprehension around ecological communities, emphasizing human behaviors and impacts. So how can we become ecoliterate?

Get ’em while their youngEB3

If children are like sponges, then adults are like faucets. Meaning—that while children absorb and learn at incredible rates, what they absorb is often determined by what we expose them to. David Orr, a distinguished environmental studies professor, suggests that our meager comprehension of ecosystems and sustainable practices, are the result of poor education, and that we particularly fail to teach young students about being a part of nature. As the digital age and growing urbanization of the world increases, children experience longer periods of isolation from natural environments. Author Richard Louv, credited with inspiring a worldwide movement in re-connecting children back to nature, describes today’s child as experiencing a kind of “nature deficit disorder.” The lack of natural exposure and experiences for children often negatively affects their individual growth and our overall society.

It’s not enough to just provide students with classroom lectures, books or computer programs—when teaching environmental relationships. They may learn intellectually, but lack a genuine connection to the natural environment. Young people need the experience of nature to feel connected to it. Research suggests, that teaching children about the environment at a young age leaves lasting influences that remain into adulthood. Children need this connection with nature to prosper mentally and physically, as individuals and as communities (Witt & Kimple, 2008).

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The San Francisco Bay wetlands     

 It can be hard to find and connect to nature in cities and urban areas. Luckily, the San Francisco Bay Area is crammed with green spaces and places to experience wildlife. The Bay Wetlands are rich in biodiversity, teeming with wildlife and hundreds of plant species. By walking or biking the Bay Trail with family, kayaking along the SF Water Trail with friends, or even just having a picnic at McLaughlin East Shore Park, one can experience a variety of wildlife and local vegetation, not to mention impressionistic like sunsets and tranquil waters. The Bay Wetlands are considered the heart and lungs of the Bay, boasting over 400 native species.

So how can we get children to both learn about and experience the Bay Wetlands? The Bay currently needs 100,000 acres of tidal marsh to be considered healthy. Restoration efforts from organizations like Save The Bay, are currently maintaining 45,000 acres of healthy marsh, with plans for restoring another 30,000 acres. Save The Bay’s Restoration Education Programs are designed to get educators, middle and high school students out into nature. Our curriculum not only meets STEM requirements, but also provides students with the opportunity to get their hands dirty and restore the Bay Wetlands themselves. This immersive outdoor experience strengthens one’s connection to the environment, providing children with the enrichment they need to develop into healthy nature-loving adults.

EB2

Just a big kid yourself? Not to worry. Save The Bay also engages volunteers, schools and businesses in shoreline restoration and scientific monitoring. Whether you’re a large corporation looking for some team building exercises, or just a small family looking to support your local community, Save The Bay offers a variety of hands-on activities from planting to shoreline cleanup.

Looking forward

Unlike squashes, humans don’t have vines attached to the tops of their heads. Because we have trouble tracing our interconnectedness back to a source, we often accidentally hurt each other and the surrounding world. But, by becoming more ecoliterate and re-connecting back to nature, we begin to see our hidden vines, and discover our connection to each other and the beauty around us.

Op-Ed: Trump budget would make America dirty and sick again

Jorge Gonzalez, searches for debris near collected old tires at Warm Water Cove, in San Francisco, Calif., as he joins hundreds of volunteers participating in the Community Team's Coastal Cleanup Day, at different locations along the San Francisco Bay shoreline, on Sat. September 19, 2015. Photo: Michael Macor, The Chronicle
Jorge Gonzalez, searches for debris near collected old tires at Warm Water Cove, in San Francisco, Calif., as he joins hundreds of volunteers participating in the Community Team’s Coastal Cleanup Day, at different locations along the San Francisco Bay shoreline, on Sat. September 19, 2015. Photo: Michael Macor, The Chronicle

President Trump’s budget proposal is a direct assault on our health and safety. The enormous cuts he is proposing to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other departments will hurt people and the planet by gutting enforcement of laws that protect the water we drink, the air we breathe and the environment that sustains us.

How many voters last year asked for more smoggy skies and fouled water, for less enforcement of criminal pollution and faster climate change? It’s doubtful most Trump voters want that, but his budget sides with polluter interests and climate deniers — not with us.

The EPA has a huge responsibility but a tiny budget. Out of every $10 in federal taxes, just two cents goes to the EPA. Cutting the EPA’s budget by 31 percent would not save much money, but it would cost a lot in lives, in lost productivity from illness and in pollution damage to crucial resources such as San Francisco Bay.

The Bay is our region’s greatest natural treasure, the heart of our economy and quality of life. It took enormous effort to return the Bay to health from near-death 40 years ago, when it was choked with garbage, sewage and industrial waste.

The Clean Water Act and the EPA helped build treatment plants in the 1970s that made the Bay’s beaches safe and its waters swimmable again. Harbor porpoises have even returned to the Bay.

As the Bay Area keeps growing, we need more federal investment, not less, to combat the impacts of climate change, freshwater diversion and polluted storm water pouring unfiltered off streets into the Bay.

Bay Area voters agreed to tax themselves in last year’s Measure AA to accelerate shoreline wetlands restoration that’s mostly within a federal wildlife refuge. The federal government should match our investment, yet Trump’s budget would zero out EPA’s $5 million program that protects marsh habitat and reduces pollution in the Bay.

And the cuts go much deeper.

The Bay Area environment is not a bubble. We’re connected to the rest of California and the nation, where the EPA’s programs have made people and wildlife healthier and safer. Agency warnings about threats to fish species and water quality in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta are forcing a rewrite of Gov. Jerry Brown’s California Water Fix. The EPA’s Clean Air Act enforcement reduced smog from Los Angeles to Pittsburgh and forced safer drinking water in cities nationwide. To avoid more health crises like the tragedy in Flint, Mich., we need a stronger EPA, not budget cuts that slash enforcement.

The EPA identifies and cleans up toxic waste at Superfund sites, including more than 50 in the Bay Area. Its Toxics Release Inventory publishes data online so we know the pollution risks in our backyards. It is on the front lines of addressing the climate change that is already hurting our health, natural resources and economy.

The EPA has helped cut global warming gases from U.S. power plants, factories and cars, and its energy efficiency standards have reduced our consumption of fossil fuels. While Trump and his Cabinet deny facts and ignore science, the EPA is required by law to limit the carbon emissions that are cooking the planet. But that takes resources and staff that Trump would cut.

We must tell Congress to reject reckless budget cuts to environmental protection. Every mayor and city council member must echo that call. Our governor and state Legislature must keep their pledge to enforce laws if the federal government does relax its efforts, and fund enforcement of those laws.

Trump’s budget would make America dirty and sick again, and nobody who breathes or drinks should stand for it.

 

David Lewis is the executive director of Save the Bay. Learn more at www.savesfbay.org.
This Op-ed was originally published in the SF Chronicle on 3/18,2017.