Restoring the Bay
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 The Pleasanton Gazette

Restoring the Bay

January 18, 2013
Save the Bay grows more than 30 native plant species in its two nurseries. Native plant nurseries provide seedlings for five restoration projects around the Bay
Save the Bay grows more than 30 native plant species in its two nurseries. Native plant nurseries provide seedlings for five restoration projects around the Bay
Volunteers are trained to collect seeds and grow wetland plants in the native plant nurseries  Photos Courtesy of Vanessa Barrington
Volunteers are trained to collect seeds and grow wetland plants in the native plant nurseries Photos Courtesy of Vanessa Barrington
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. The sheer veracity of the statement is exemplified by Save the Bay organization that is now 51 years old. Thanks to their sustained efforts, the urban San Leandro Bay has supported endangered California clapper rails and a host of other species in its healthy tidal marsh. Restoration sites of the non-profit focus on the transition zone that is just uphill of the tidal marshes. This narrow zone supports creatures that seek refuge during high tides.

The ambitious vision for protecting wetland sites around San Francisco Bay started taking shape in the year 2000 when Save The Bay created its Community-based Restoration Program. The program has engaged almost 60,000 youth and adults in hands-on restoration stewardship projects at up to eight sites around the Bay. Save the Bay envisions the ultimate goal of re-establishing 100,000 acres of healthy tidal marsh around the Bay, that offers a broader canvas of protected and connected habitat.

Community-based Restoration Program pioneers innovative scientific techniques with a dedicated team of staff scientists and biologists. About 5,000 volunteers are trained annually to restore seven wetland sites around San Francisco Bay. But the non-profit organization is emblematic of much more than that.

Save the Bay grows more than 30 native plant species in its two nurseries in Oakland and Palo Alto Baylands. Engaging a community of 40,000 members that include students, businesses and individuals, it serves as the largest regional organization. Geared towards protecting and restoring San Francisco Bay through volunteer restoration programs and citizen advocacy, the non-profit has planted more than 150,000 wetland plants in the last decade. “We train volunteers to collect seeds and grow wetland plants in our native plant nurseries, plant them at key sites, and remove weeds and trash that degrade wetland habitat,”says Vanessa Barrington, PR Manager, Save The Bay. During the winter rainy season volunteers help plant 30,000 native seedlings along the Bay. This year, over 5,000 adult and youth volunteers will donate 20,000 hours of their time to enhance and restore 120 acres of vital Bay habitats by hand.

Providing valuable muscle to help restore Bay habitat, Save The Bay’s volunteer programs provide opportunities to local businesses and groups to give back to their community and advance team building. Since the program’s inception, over 300 Bay Area community groups and corporations have volunteered with the organization. Some of them include Apple, Bank of America, Bayer, EBay, Ernst & Young, Facebook, Ghirardelli, Google, JPMorgan Chase, Kaiser Permanente, Nestle, PayPal, PG&E, REI, Salesforce, Target, VMware, W Hotels, and Wells Fargo.

Some of the highest densities of California clapper rails are found at the Martin Luther King Jr.Regional Shoreline. “At Save The Bay we specialize in restoring the tidal marsh transition zone,” said Donna Ball, Habitat Restoration Director. “This area of the marsh offers critical habitat for endangered California clapper rail. During high tides, Clapper rails move out of the marsh, making them more vulnerable to predators. The native marsh plants that we use in our restoration provide a refuge.”

A healthier San Francisco Bay translates to a better economy and a better quality of life. Tireless and
exclusive efforts of this team are making a difference by protecting and restoring this great natural treasure. Through its programs it is preventing the Bay from shrinking from fill or inappropriate development while improving Bay water quality by reducing pollution and re-establishing about 100,000 acres of crucial tidal marsh habitat. So next time you see the green fringing San Leandro Bay or the California Clapper Rails on a healthier tidal marsh, give a nod to Save the Bay team. To join the cause please visit Save the Bay at www.savesfbay.org.
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