On New Year’s Day, as I’ve done for the past 9 years, I immersed myself in the icy ocean. I think of this polar bear plunge ritual as a sort of reset. Whether the group of fellow plungers that joins me is small or large, I’m always filled with a deep sense of possibility. If we can motivate ourselves to leave warm beds on New Year’s Day and do something so bold, what else can we accomplish this year?
Many people make resolutions for the year. What’s on your list? After the indulgent holiday months, maybe you’ve committed to a new diet and exercise plan, or a tighter budget. Perhaps you will finally finish that project or change that bad habit. In the spirit of the New Year, here are a few of my resolutions for the Bay. Feel free to add them to your list.
1. Explore – The San Francisco Bay area has an incredible wealth of open spaces. Explore a new section of the Bay Trail, take a bike ride, or visit our local parks. Exercise outside and cross two items off your list!
2. Try new things – Looking for a fun and free activity? Come plant with Save The Bay this season. It’s easy to sign up to volunteer online and we have public programs every week. Explore a new part of the Bay and volunteer at a different site each month.
3. Kick the plastic bag habit – Fortunately, plastic bag bans have passed in dozens of communities around the Bay, and they are working to reduce toxic trash from flowing into our waterways. These ordinances help motivate us to remember our own bags. Check out our tips to kick the bag habit.
4. Keep learning – Are you curious about San Francisco Bay? Explore the environment, history, and species of the Bay from your own computer. Visit our Virtual Marsh.
5. Enjoy the view –The next time you find yourself with a stunning view of the Bay, take a moment to appreciate our great natural treasure. Feel grateful for the pioneers who fought to protect our Bay over 50 years ago, and make a commitment to another year of saving the Bay. Snap a photo and share it.
San Francisco Bay’s wetlands are vibrant, complex, and truly beautiful places. Save The Bay’s wetland restoration sites span the Bay, reaching from Palo Alto and Menlo Park in the South up through Hayward, Oakland, and into Marin. Each one of these sites has a unique history, geography, and compliment of flora and fauna worthy of an in-person visit; however, considerable distances between sites limits the majority of our student and adult volunteers to visiting only the sites closest to their communities.
While geographic proximity is a cornerstone of Community-based Restoration, it’s tremendously valuable to recognize how your experience at a local restoration area fits into the larger picture, yet painting this picture is easier said that done. How should we convey to volunteers at Eden Landing in Hayward that the transition zone they are restoring may one day resemble the intact transition zone at China Camp in San Rafael? What is the best way to illustrate to students in Palo Alto that the data they are collecting on pH and salinity differs dramatically from the data collected by students in Oakland? Short of arranging a series of cross-Bay field trips for 7,000 people annually, we’ve been limited to telling stories and drawing maps. This is all about to change.
Save The Bay, in partnership with Intel, just launched a brand new Virtual Marsh website. This fun and user-friendly citizen science tool enables students, teachers, and community members to participate in science and learn about the vibrant life in and around San Francisco Bay. Here you can meet the plants and animals that live in the Bay’s many salt marshes using an interactive Marsh Field Guide. You can also explore our restoration sites in Google Earth and view scientific data and experiences logged by students and Save The Bay staff during our Restoration Education Programs. The Virtual Marsh is not only intended for Bay Area residents, it will be used as an educational tool for students around the country, even those that are hundreds of miles from a salt marsh.