Celebrating Ten Years Of Restoring Bay Wetlands, Save The Bay Seeks Hundreds Of Volunteers To Plant 25,000 Seedlings This Winter

November 18, 2010

Save The Bay – the largest regional organization working to protect and restore San Francisco Bay – is celebrating ten years of successful Community-based Restoration with the recent kick-off its winter planting season. With a decade of important and effective restoration under its belt, Save The Bay will focus this winter on expanding to new sites and restoring more wetlands to provide natural flood control, buffers against sea-level rise and vital habitat for Bay animals. Save The Bay is seeking hundreds of volunteers to help meet its ambitious goal to plant 25,000 native wetland seedlings at shoreline restoration sites in Oakland, Hayward, Palo Alto, Menlo Park and Mill Valley. Planting during the wet winter season ensures that the young plants, such as California aster, California poppy and lupines have the water they need to grow and thrive.
"We connect thousands of Bay Area residents to the San Francisco Bay through our restoration program, and we are extremely proud of the profound impact it has had on the community and the health of the Bay over the past ten years," says David Lewis, Executive Director of Save The Bay. "The deep support we receive from volunteers is a critical asset in making the Bay healthier for people and wildlife."

Wetlands Are Vital Habitat
Wetlands are home to many endangered species, such as the California clapper rail and salt marsh harvest mouse. They keep the Bay healthy by filtering runoff pollution to improve water quality. Additionally, they act as a sponge, providing flood control when water levels are high and create a protective buffer for communities threatened by rising sea levels associated with global warming. 

As a result of development and fill, only ten percent of the Bay’s original wetlands remain. Yet, scientists say the Bay needs 100,000 acres of healthy wetlands to maintain a sustainable eco-system. Save The Bay is working toward this goal by stopping inappropriate shoreline development and protecting, restoring and enhancing vital wetland habitat. 

Volunteers Have Planted More than 100,000 Seedlings in the last Decade
In the past ten years, Save The Bay’s Habitat Restoration Team has honed its planting methods and fine-tuned its monitoring regime, creating a Community-based Restoration Program that uses innovative scientific techniques, a highly skilled staff, and 5,000 trained volunteers annually to restore the Bay. Volunteers have helped plant more than 100,000 native plants along the shoreline since 2000 and this year will begin planting native vegetation in new areas as most of Save The Bay's previously restored areas are now functioning as sustainable habitats on their own.

“We rely heavily on the Bay Area community to provide volunteer support during this critical winter planting season,” says Darcie Goodman Collins, Ph. D., Habitat Restoration Director for Save The Bay. ”This year we aim to increase Save The Bay's total acreage of restored wetlands and encourage more species diversity within the tidal marsh; and our volunteers are essential to meeting those goals."

Save The Bay uses scientific methods to develop best practices that re-establish and enhance wetlands efficiently, and continually perfects techniques based on careful site-monitoring data. Save The Bay is a pioneer in restoring upland transition zones — narrow areas of vegetation located between water and land that are critical rare plant and wildlife habitat, and important flood buffers. 

Save The Bay is seeking volunteers to help out at the following sites:

Ravenswood Pond in Menlo Park is an integral piece of the South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project – the largest wetlands restoration project on the West Coast. Since 2008, Save The Bay volunteers have helped prepare the site for restoration by removing trash and invasive weeds and are poised to begin full restoration of the upland transition zones, ensuring that these managed ponds will be encircled by native plants to provide habitat for nesting shorebirds and a natural barrier protecting wildlife from adjacent roads. As the only organization using community volunteers to restore this site, Save The Bay is making it possible for the residents to experience this section of the shoreline for the first time, learn about the importance of wetland restoration and discover the native plants and wildlife that live here.

Eden Landing Ecological Reserve in Hayward/Union City is a 6,000-acre complex of former salt ponds that is also part of the South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project. Restoring the wetlands here will provide local recreational opportunities for residents and habitat for endangered shorebirds, waterfowl, and fish. This work also helps to stabilize levees at this site. Part of Save The Bay's ongoing work at Eden Landing is to prep the site to coincide with the large scale restoration efforts managed by the California Department of Fish and Game. Volunteers will continue to plant native seedlings and remove invasive weeds in upland transition zones to ensure the area is prepared to flourish on its own once all the planned breaches have been completed.

San Francisquito Creek in the Palo Alto Baylands Nature Preserve is a restoration site located adjacent to a highly populated urban area, providing a natural space for residents to visit, view wildlife, and get away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Unlike other creeks in the area that have been confined to pipes over portions of their length, San Francisquito is the last South Bay creek that runs completely above ground. Save The Bay is set to break ground in January on the construction of a new greenhouse at this site that will accompany the existing native plant nursery.

Another urban wetland – the Martin Luther King Jr. Shoreline – has some of the last remaining natural tidal marsh in the East Bay. Five major creeks flow into this 50-acre marsh, providing important sanctuary for a variety of animals, including burrowing owls and the endangered California clapper rail. This season, volunteers will begin planting native seedlings along the Damon Marsh Trail – a busy section of the Bay Trail that runs along the shoreline – and also along East Creek Slough at the northern end of the marsh. Expanding into new areas will help to connect the different habitats within the entire marsh area, creating a much larger refuge for wildlife. The MLK Jr. Shoreline also hosts a native plant nursery.

Bothin Marsh is a beautiful wetland area over 100 acres in size on the north end of Richardson Bay alongside a well-traveled section of the Bay Trail. This area, owned by the Marin County Open Space District and the City of Mill Valley, is a mix of tidal wetlands, sloughs and Bay that provides habitat for hundreds of native bird and wildlife species, including the endangered salt marsh harvest mouse. It's also a resting stop for over 400 species of migratory birds traveling on the Pacific Flyway. This season, Save The Bay will expand restoration further up the marsh into Bayfront Park.

How to Volunteer
Save The Bay is in particular need of volunteers for its Solstice Planting Days from December 8th – 12th. Corporations and community groups are also encouraged to sign up for private, weekday volunteer opportunities, which are great team-building events! Join VMware, the W Hotel San Francisco, Bayer, Polycom, and Animation Mentor, who are making a commitment to the Bay and have already scheduled private restoration programs. To schedule a private restoration event, contact Natalie LaVan, Restoration Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator, at natalie@savesfbay.org or (510) 452.9261 x109.

To sign up to volunteer for a public weekend event, visit www.saveSFbay.org/volunteer. All volunteer restoration programs are free, but an RSVP is required.

About Save The Bay
Save The Bay is the largest regional organization working to protect, restore and celebrate San Francisco Bay.  As its leading champion since 1961, Save The Bay protects the Bay from pollution and inappropriate shoreline development, making it cleaner and healthier for people and wildlife.  We restore habitat and secure strong policies to re-establish 100,000 acres of wetlands that are essential for a healthy Bay.  We engage more than 25,000 supporters, advocates and volunteers to protect the Bay, and inspire the next generation of environmental leaders by educating thousands of students annually.   www.saveSFbay.org

Save The Bay’s Site Partners
Save The Bay’s volunteer projects are made possible through partnerships with local, state, and federal resource agencies with the goal of engaging student and community volunteers in wetland restoration. Partners include:
Eden Landing Ecological Reserve:  California Department of Fish and Game www.cdfg.ca.gov
San Francisquito Creek/Palo Alto Baylands: Palo Alto Baylands Nature Preserve www.cityofpaloalto.org 
Martin Luther King Jr. Shoreline: East Bay Regional Park District www.ebparks.org
Ravenswood Pond: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service www.fws.gov
Bothin Marsh: City of Mill Valley www.cityofmillvalley.org & Marin County Open Space District www.marinopenspace.org