Save The Bay Educates Thousands Of Bay Area Students, Seeks Hundreds Of Volunteers To Plant 30,000 Seedlings This Winter

November 28, 2011

Save The Bay – the largest regional organization working to protect and restore San Francisco Bay – is thrilled to announce new opportunities for students and community members to help restore San Francisco Bay for generations to come through its volunteer and education programs. Formed in 1961, this year Save The Bay celebrates a half century as the Bay’s leading champion, while focusing on the next 50 years of protecting and restoring our great natural treasure.  

This month, Save This Bay is kicking off its annual winter planting season with an ambitious goal to plant 30,000 native seedlings at several shoreline sites around the Bay. The organization seeks hundreds of volunteers of all ages to participate in this effort as planting during the wet winter season ensures that the young plants, such as California poppy, sticky monkey flower and lupines have the water they need to grow and thrive. 

The non-profit, which has been leading environmental education field trips on the Bay for over a decade, also recently launched three new programs to further engage local students and teachers in critical hands-on shoreline wetland restoration. 

“We are particularly excited about this planting season because we will be implementing newly designed techniques to restore more wetland habitat than ever before,” said Save The Bay Habitat Restoration Director, Darcie Collins Ph.D.  “Plus, our new and innovative youth programs will increase leadership, stewardship, and science investigation for local students and bolster our efforts to restore wetlands at the same time.” 

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 climate change. Tidal salt marshes also capture and store carbon from greenhouse gases in the air efficiently and effectively, helping to counter 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 around the Bay.  

Save The Bay Expands Restoration Education Programs

Save The Bay educates the next generation of environmental stewards through hands-on, science-based habitat restoration programs that engage students with field science and service-learning projects that also promote civic engagement, eco-literacy, youth empowerment and leadership. Save The Bay launched three new Restoration Education Programs in September and already over 500 students have been enrolled in the following programs: 

  • SEED (Students Engaging in Ecological Design): An ecological stewardship program engaging middle and high school students in the complete cycle of tidal marsh restoration in the San Francisco Bay, from seeds to ecosystems. 
  • DIRT (Digging Into Restoration Technology): A science-based program engaging middle and high school students in experimental design, soil science, data analysis and adaptive restoration of tidal marsh and upland habitat in the San Francisco Bay. 
  • BEST (Bay Environmental Stewardship Training): An environmental leadership program that trains upper level high school students to be educators and mentors for younger learners in the field of ecological restoration. 

“Through Save The Bay’s programs my students have developed an awareness of their connection to the Bay, as well as an understanding that they are not helpless, even as young people,” said Myra Vallianos, an eighth grade teacher at E.C. Reems Academy of Technology and Arts in Oakland. “Additionally, many students who struggle at school shine in this “outdoor classroom” – they work well with peers and demonstrate true dedication to the restoration work.”

How to Volunteer

Save The Bay is in particular need of volunteers for its Solstice Planting Days from December 13th – 18th. Corporations and community groups are also encouraged to sign up for private, weekday volunteer opportunities. Save The Bay encourages local groups to join VMware, the W Hotel San Francisco, Bayer, Polycom, and Animation Mentor, who have already scheduled private restoration programs for this winter. 

Interested businesses can learn more at http://www.savesfbay.org/corporate-and-group-programs

Individuals interested in volunteering for a public weekend event can visit www.saveSFbay.org/volunteer. All volunteer restoration programs are free, but an RSVP is required. 

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. This unique Pond is managed for nesting habitat for endangered and sensitive species and provides unique bird-watching opportunities for residents. As the only organization restoring habitat at this site, Save The Bay makes it possible for volunteers to learn about the importance of salt pond restoration, as well as native plants and wildlife. 

  • 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. 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. 
  • The Faber-Laumeister Tract in East Palo Alto, part of the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge, is one of the oldest wetland restoration projects in the San Francisco Bay. It provides food and shelter for thousands of native plants and animals every year, including the endangered California Clapper Rail and salt marsh harvest mouse, and is also some of the only shoreline open space available to East Palo Alto residents. 

  • The Palo Alto Baylands Nature Preserve and its marshes are located adjacent to a highly populated urban area, providing a natural space for residents to recreate, view wildlife, and learn about San Francisco Bay. Save The Bay recently completed a new greenhouse at this site that has significantly increased the organization’s capacity to grow native seedlings for planting at this site and others. 

  • 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. Save The Bay continues to expand into new areas 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.

About Save The Bay

Save The Bay is the largest regional organization working to protect and restore San Francisco Bay. Formed in 1961, Save The Bay is celebrating 50 years as the Bay’s leading champion, protecting our natural treasure from pollution and inappropriate shoreline development; restoring habitat; and securing 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. Save The Bay is proud to have achieved this impressive milestone and remains dedicated to making the Bay cleaner and healthier for people and wildlife. 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:

 

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