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Regional Wetlands

As a result of development and agriculture, along with the creation of commercial salt ponds through the 1960s, San Francisco Bay has lost more than a third of its open water area and more than 85 percent of its historic tidal wetlands. No ecosystem can withstand such losses, and it is no wonder the Bay Area has more than 60 native plant and wildlife species designated (or potentially designated) by federal or state agencies as rare, threatened or endangered, or listed as species of special concern.

Over the last decade, the need to correct these disastrous losses has been recognized, and an unprecedented effort has begun to restore over 100,000 acres of wetlands in San Francisco Bay. Golden Gate Audubon is playing an important role in this process. We participate in the San Francisco Bay Joint Venture, a quasi-governmental group that brings together public and private agencies, conservation groups, and development interests to restore wetlands and wildlife habitat in San Francisco Bay watersheds and environs. We also serve on a team that is helping to develop a blueprint to restore 15,000 acres of salt ponds in South San Francisco Bay.

Learn more about the South Bay Salt Pond Restoration project at http://www.southbayrestoration.org.

Conservation Issues

Many complex issues are involved in restoring South Bay salt ponds. The ponds provide important habitat to one million shorebirds every year, as well as many duck and other waterbird species, including California Least Terns. Tidal wetlands form the base of the aquatic food chain and are indispensable to a healthy aquatic ecosystem. Seventy-five percent of all fish species are dependent upon wetlands, as are many avian species.

Our Goals

Golden Gate Audubon is working to support regional efforts to restore the health of San Francisco Bay’s wildlife habitats. Key goals:

  • Work to restore the South Bay salt ponds in partnership with teams of local and national scientists and other local, interested parties
  • Identify key threats to our most vital wetlands around the bay, opposing projects that destroy them, and requiring appropriate mitigation when destruction is unavoidable
  • Work with regional and national partners to address current efforts to weaken federal wetland-protection regulations and to bolster California’s state regulations to protect wetlands

What You Can Do

  • Contact Golden Gate Audubon’s San Francisco or East Bay Conservation Committee and join our work on the South Bay Salt Pond Restoration project as we advocate for adequate funding and appropriate restoration goals.
  • Help us monitor and oppose wetland-destroying projects in the San Francisco Bay Area.
  • Help us preserve and strengthen federal laws protecting wetlands and create strong state regulations to protect wetlands.