Save The Bay Plants 100,000th Native Seedling in Effort to Restore 100,000 Acres of Healthy Bay Wetlands

February 8, 2008

Save The Bay—the oldest and largest membership organization working exclusively to protect, restore, and celebrate San Francisco Bay—will plant its 100,000th native seedling Friday at the Martin Luther King Jr. Regional Shoreline in Oakland. This significant milestone comes eight years after Save The Bay launched its Community-based Restoration Program at the same site. Through science-based restoration programs and policy recommendations, Save The Bay is working to establish 100,000 acres of healthy wetlands ringing the Bay to protect water quality, provide critical habitat for endangered species, prevent flooding and combat global warming. Since 2000 Save The Bay has engaged 35,000 youth and adult volunteers in restoring habitat throughout the entire Bay.

Save The Bay co-founder, Sylvia McLaughlin will plant the 100,000th seedling. “This is quite a milestone for the organization and I’m honored to be a part of this celebration,” she says. “It’s wonderful to enjoy these achievements after nearly fifty years of saving the Bay.”

Restoring 100,000 Acres of Wetlands Essential for a Healthy Bay
As a result of development and fill, only ten percent of the Bay’s original wetlands remain. Bay Area scientists recommend that at least 100,000 acres of healthy tidal wetlands be established to support a healthy, sustainable ecosystem. In August 2007, Save The Bay released its bold vision for a healthy Bay and outlined the necessary steps to establish 100,000 acres of wetlands around the Bay: “Greening the Bay: Financing Wetland Restoration in San Francisco Bay.” This report documents for the first time ever the total projected cost to double tidal wetlands in San Francisco Bay, from Vallejo to San Jose and recommends establishing a Bay Special District to raise public funds to restore tidal wetlands.

Using Science and Volunteers to Restore the Bay
Founded in 2000, Save The Bay’s Community-based Restoration Program leverages scientific expertise and best practices in habitat restoration to support the establishment of 100,000 acres of healthy wetlands around the Bay. Save The Bay’s restoration program tests new techniques for invasive plant control and native species revegetation in wetlands and develops best practices in restoration that can be used throughout the entire Bay shoreline. This year, Save The Bay will engage 5,000 youth and adult volunteers from the entire Bay Area to restore 100 acres of habitat including tidal wetlands, subtidal oyster populations and eelgrass beds, former salt ponds, and island habitats at nine regional projects (including more than 40 individual locations around the Bay). Volunteers are trained to collect site-specific seed and grow diverse native wetland plants in native plant nurseries, plant them in the wetlands, and remove non-native plants weeds and trash that degrade wetland habitat.

“Our partnership with Save The Bay is extremely important because it engages the community in restoring critical Bay habitat. When Bay Area residents come out to volunteer they see birds and wetland plants thriving in the middle of this largely urban area. By working on the shoreline restoration, they develop a sense of ownership and are inspired to help protect these last remaining natural places,” says Joan Suzio, Supervisor of the Martin Luther King Jr. Regional Shoreline within the East Bay Regional Park District.

Wetlands Sustain the Bay and Combat Global Warming
Wetlands are essential in maintaining a healthy Bay for the economy and quality of life in the Bay Area. As the lungs of the Bay, wetlands trap polluted runoff and act as filters to clean the waters of the Bay. Wetlands also provide critical habitat for endangered fish and wildlife, as well as provide flood and erosion control by acting as sponges, slowing down and soaking up large quantities of water runoff and sediment during rainstorms, tidal inflow and possible future sea level rise. Scientists have found that tidal salt marshes capture significant amounts of carbon from greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, helping to combat global warming.

MLK Jr. Shoreline Saved by Save The Bay and Others
The MLK Jr. Regional Shoreline is located in a highly urbanized area targeted for many uses, resulting in a long history of development, restoration, and grassroots activism. In 1986, East Bay Regional Park staff found the Port of Oakland illegally dumping dredge material into the marsh. After a successful lawsuit headed by Save The Bay, Golden Gate Audubon Society, and Sierra Club, the dumping was halted and this wetland has a brighter future with $2.5 million dollars allocated for its restoration. Save The Bay’s restoration program began in 2000 and in 2002 an endangered California clapper rail was discovered nesting in the wetlands.

Partners Vital to Success of Save The Bay’s Restoration Program
Save The Bay partners with the East Bay Regional Park District to involve volunteers in restoring habitat at the Martin Luther King Jr. Regional Shoreline. Save The Bay’s restoration programs are funded by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Community-based Restoration Program, California Coastal Conservancy, and Restore America’s Estuaries.

About Save The Bay
Save The Bay is the oldest and largest organization working exclusively to protect, restore and celebrate San Francisco Bay. As the Bay’s leading champion since 1961, Save The Bay is committed to making the Bay cleaner and healthier for people and wildlife. Save The Bay wages and wins effective advocacy campaigns to increase public access to the Bay, establish 100,000 acres of healthy wetlands around the Bay, and protect the Bay from today’s greatest threats: pollution and urban sprawl. Save The Bay educates nearly 10,000 students and adults on the Bay each year and engages volunteers to improve vital wetlands and subtidal habitats. www.saveSFbay.org

Save The Bay Partners
Restore America’s Estuaries (RAE): www.estuaries.org
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA): www.noaa.gov
California Coastal Conservancy: www.scc.ca.gov
East Bay Regional Park District: www.ebparks.org