Our Bay Area Kids Are Saving The Bay!

Dig in your hands, move ‘em about, and voila, an earthworm is winding through your muddy fingers! You’re 7 years old and grinning as wide as a crescent moon. “Loooook, Mom!”

Excitement for nature is not hard to imagine at age 7. We are amazed by everything! And why shouldn’t we be? The world is one incredible place, and there are so many ways to explore (and get muddy).

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Save The Bay’s Executive Director David Lewis, (front center) was once a student at The Nueva School. We are grateful to the current students of The Nueva School and Stevenson PACT Elementary for their fundraising efforts for the Bay.

Inspiring a love for nature at a young age is one of the most important things we can do for the next generation, because that love lasts a lifetime. During our early years, we begin to understand how the environment impacts us and how we impact it. This understanding often spurs a desire to protect the places and creatures we love, from the bugs in our hands to our gorgeous local marshlands.

Two groups of remarkable kids in the San Francisco South Bay and Peninsula have recently demonstrated their love for the Bay by raising money to protect it.

An ambitious group of third graders at the Nueva School in Hillsborough recently raised more than $500 through their unique farmers’ market fundraiser. And at Stevenson PACT Elementary School in Mountain View, the second-grade class has also raised over $500 through their craft sale. All of us at Save The Bay feel honored to receive these hard-earned donations, and we’re truly inspired by these young people’s initiative and passion for the Bay.

Stevenson’s second graders decided to support Save The Bay after hearing about our work through a student presentation. At Nueva, the third graders watched the documentary “Saving the Bay”, highlighting San Francisco Bay’s ecological importance and the threats it faces every day.

“The students learned that oil and plastic pollution can cause harm to birds and other wildlife, and can drastically pollute the Bay,” says Lisa Hinshelwood, the third graders’ Social Emotional Learning teacher. She believes that her students were motivated by a real concern that the Bay they know today won’t be around when they get older.

These second and third graders know that their donations will allow Save The Bay to preserve and protect our Bay by restoring wetlands with native plants, reducing pollution in the Bay, and campaigning against reckless shoreline development. We’ll also keep nurturing a love of nature in middle and high school students, through our award-winning restoration education programs.

From all of us at Save The Bay: a huge THANK YOU to the spirited kids of the Nueva School and Stevenson PACT Elementary! Your love for the Bay and your teamwork inspires us all, and we adults will never stop learning from you.


Save The Bay’s Executive Director, David Lewis, attended The Nueva School before it moved from portable classrooms in Menlo Park to the Crocker Mansion in Hillsborough in 1971. In fact, quite a few of Save The Bay’s supporters have a relationship with the Nueva School as alumni, staff and parents. Check out David’s fourth grade class photo above!

David recalls, “A lot of my time at Nueva was spent outdoors, learning about and through nature. We went to Lake Lagunitas at Stanford to catch tadpoles and mosquito larvae, camped at Mt. Madonna, and visited a working farm. Those outdoor experiences influenced my interest in the environment early on.” 

Climate Report Supports Wetland Restoration As Sea Level Rise Adaptation Strategy

Healthy wetlands protect our communities from flooding by slowing down and soaking up runoff and tidal inflow.
Photo credit: Dan Sullivan

A scientific report released just weeks ago confirms that people, societies, and ecosystems around the world are vulnerable to climate change.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was set up in 1988 by the U.N. and the World Meteorological Organization to provide policymakers with regular scientific assessment of climate change and options for adaptation and mitigation. The IPCC recently met in Yokohama, Japan to approve the report, titled Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability.

The report details the impacts of climate change, the future risks, and the opportunities to reduce risk. It concludes that both our atmosphere and our oceans have warmed, which has diminished ice and snow, causing the sea level to rise.

Sea level rise is a serious threat to the Bay area. According to the Pacific Institute, over $50 billion in property and infrastructure is at risk in the Bay area alone, with estimates of $100 trillion worldwide. In the Bay area, nearly 100 schools and healthcare facilities, 1,780 miles of roads and highways, 270,000 homes, and major infrastructure like our airports, bridges, power plants, and sewage treatment plants are at risk.

This report further reinforces the potential for wetland restoration to help prepare the Bay area for sea level rise. According to the report, “ecosystem-based adaptation is increasingly attracting attention.” The report states that “in coastal areas, the conservation or restoration of habitats (e.g. wetlands) can provide effective measures against storm surge, saline intrusion and coastal erosion by using their physical characteristics, biodiversity, and the ecosystem services they provide as a means for adaptation.”

Save The Bay has worked for years to restore Bay wetlands because we recognize the crucial role they play in the overall health of the Bay. Healthy wetlands filter toxins from polluted runoff, provide habitat for hundreds of species, and protect our communities from flooding and erosion by slowing down and soaking up runoff and tidal inflow. Wetland restoration is an important, multi-benefit, and cost-effective strategy for preparing the Bay area for sea level rise. The IPCC report identifies “the protection and restoration of relevant coastal natural systems…such as salt marshes” and “replacing armored with living shorelines” as two strategies for sea level rise mitigation and adaptation.

This study further confirms what we already knew about the importance of Bay wetlands. Join the thousands of volunteers who come out to the Bay every year to restore our wetlands, one native plant at a time.

Notes from the Field | Give your time this holiday season

Give back to the Bay this holiday season.
Give back to the Bay this holiday season.

The holiday season is upon us! The winter chill is finally settling in and hopefully it will bring some much-needed rain and snow. Now is the time we give thanks for our family, friends, and community – and many local residents want to give back. We all live around the bay, but how often do we get a chance give back to it?

Here’s a list of some volunteer opportunities I know throughout the Bay Area. By donating a little of your time, you can make a big difference in both the health of our local environment and build a stronger community in the spirit of the season.

Environmental Volunteers
Since 1972, this nonprofit has provided training to volunteers about the importance of Bay Area ecosystems. Why not learn more about your natural environment while helping to bring the bay to local classrooms, or by taking kids on educational nature walks in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties?

Audubon Canyon Ranch
Headquartered in a beautiful canyon next to the Bolinas Lagoon, this organization offers a wide variety of volunteer opportunities, including participating in bird surveys, planting native plants, and even docent training.

Marine Mammal Center
You love marine mammals, look no further. You can get up close and personal by rescuing stranded animals and providing them care, or support educational and administrative programs in Sausalito. They offer special programs for youth (ages 15-18).

Golden Gate Audubon Society
If birds are what you’re interested in, the popular Golden Gate Audubon Society has restoration projects throughout the bay area focusing on restoring habitat for resident and migrating birds. As a special holiday bonus join the thousands of citizen scientists taking part in the National Audubon Society’s Annual Christmas bird count!

Friends of Sausal Creek
This community association is a great example of people can come together to help better this riparian area and recreation zone in their own backyard. Come volunteer with Friends of Sausal Creek and get inspired to organize a group to help protect and restore a resource in your own neighborhood!

Literacy For Environmental Justice
Serving San Francisco’s Bayview Hunter’s Point neighborhood, this group works with local youth to create a more healthy and sustainable community helping clean polluted areas and providing healthy food access to low income residents. You can volunteer at their native plant nursery and community garden in Candlestick Point or for a restoration project near Yosemite Slough.

Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley
Learn about the wildlife living right in your own backyard, from hawks and deer to even coyotes and bobcats. This organization takes in ill and injured wildlife from all around the South Bay and provides an opportunity for the public to help in many different ways, like caring from sick animals at their rehabilitation center in San Jose or writing for their newsletter.

Point Blue Conservation Science
Formerly known as the Point Reyes Bird Observatory, this well respected organization supports research and community involvement in learning how local ecosystems will be impacted by climate change. Most volunteer opportunities are in the North Bay, and include shorebird surveys, education programs, working in their lab, or even contribute just by having fun on their iNaturalist app.

Of course, Save The Bay’s own Restoration Team has entered planting season, so be sure to come on down to the shoreline and help us plant the over 40,000 seedlings our volunteers worked so hard to propagate.

We are blessed in the Bay Area to have a strong legacy of environmental stewardship represented by countless organizations and groups working to make our home a better place to live in.

So give back and learn something new this holiday season!

The organizations I listed above are just a few examples and I encourage everyone to search out your local groups that are organizing their communities to protect and restore our bay.

Do you know any other organizations? Post them in the comments below.


Greenfest Reveals Next Generation of Inspiring Bay Savers

While tabling this past weekend at the Green Festival, I was surprised and inspired by the number of young activists who stopped to chat with us.

Countless times I’d look out into the aisle to see some young person’s eyes light up. Then, they’d come over and say, “Save The Bay!” enthusiastically. I’d ask how they knew us, and invariably they’d tell me that they went on a field trip with our restoration staff, or participated in our science-based restoration curriculum through their school, or attended one of our public restoration programs.


Back in 1961 our founders lived the principles of grassroots organizing, and subscribed to the belief that every individual can make a difference. We created our restoration education programs for middle and high schools in 2011 to ensure that the younger generation would be inspired to protect our precious Bay. That’s why it’s so great having these conversations with young people.

I talked to a number of students who participated in our Restoration Education Programs in high school and middle school. They are in college now and working actively on their campuses to encourage fellow students to become environmental stewards—from educating campus smokers on the impact of tobacco litter on our waterways, to encouraging campus colleagues to adopt reusable bags, water bottles, and coffee mugs.

Some of these young people asked me if we do tidal marsh restoration programs for college age students and wondered how they could continue to be involved with Bay issues.

Here are a few ideas. We hope you’ll share these with anybody you know who wants to protect and restore the Bay for future generations.

Soggy Coastal Cleanup Day Yields Unexpected Lesson

Saturday, September 21, 2013 was a strange day. The last day of summer brought a freak September rain storm, which swiftly dropped tons of rain on a thirsty Bay Area and marked the first-ever confluence of Coastal Cleanup Day and First Flush. First Flush is our term for the first big rain of the season, which washes actual rivers of trash from streets into storm drains and out into our waterways and the Bay.

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That may sound dramatic but it’s not. We had a perfect view of this phenomenon from Highway 880, as we headed home from our cleanup site at Martin Luther King Jr. Shoreline in Oakland, CA. The water was flowing swiftly and we could see Styrofoam cups and plastic water bottles, along with other debris, bobbing along in the current right next to the highway.

Despite the rain, 145 volunteers turned out at our two cleanup sites at MLK Shoreline and Coyote Creek in San Jose. They picked up a total of 77 bags of trash before the deluge began. The storm provided a great teaching moment when a reporter from NBC Bay Area showed up to film a television segment. Allison Chan, our Clean Bay Campaign Manager, was able to talk on camera about the fact that stormwater runoff (most of which is trash) is actually the biggest pollution threat the Bay faces.

Coastal Cleanup Day is one day a year when millions of volunteers gather worldwide to pick up trash from beaches, shorelines, and creek sides. It’s a great way to raise awareness of the trash problem in our waterways. But I’m not sure the public gets the connection that the trash they pick up on Coastal Cleanup Day isn’t just from a few badly behaved beach goers, or people littering off of their boats. It comes from all of us. It blows out of garbage cans, gets dumped in gutters, and blows away during picnics. That’s why we at Save The Bay work with cities and counties to prevent the most commonly littered items from ending up in our gutters and the Bay in the first place. Cigarette butts, plastic bags, and Styrofoam food containers are some of the biggest offenders.

You can help prevent these items from entering the Bay, choking wetlands, harming water quality, and killing wildlife. Sign our petition telling tobacco companies to Keep their Butts out of our Bay, and support plastic bag and Styrofoam bans in your community. Is your city on the map?