In March of 2008, the Sierra Club’s Loma Prieta chapter adopted a resolution advocating full restoration of the Cargill salt ponds. We did so in hopes of protecting this 1433- acre parcel of eminently restorable baylands from being paved over in an ill-conceived plan to build what would essentially be a new city on the Bay.
In the intervening years, as details of Cargill/DMB’s project have emerged and the Notice of Preparation has been submitted, we have been made even more keenly aware of its numerous negative impacts on our Bay and our quality of life.
We have become even more .
We fully acknowledge , but we think development within existing infrastructure, convenient to transportation and supportive of our wonderful downtown businesses is far preferable to paving over one of the Bay’s last pieces of restorable wetlands. The is moving in the right direction!
San Francisco Bay is the second largest estuary in North America. To Californians, it is our crown jewel. It provides beauty, recreational activities, and is a vital habitat for numerous wildlife species. Not only is it home to numerous species of birds, such as the endangered California clapper rail and the snowy plover, but it is part of the Pacific Flyway, a global system used by tens of thousands of birds every year.
Decades ago, the importance of marshes was little understood. They were called swamps, and considered useless wastelands, places to dump garbage. This ignorance resulted in the loss of an estimated 85% of the Bay’s historic marshes, which once were teeming with rich and varied life. Today, we know better and take seriously their value, not only to wildlife, but to humans as well. To quote from the Sierra Club’s position paper:
Scientists estimate that a minimum of 100,000 acres must be restored to tidal marsh to keep the San Francisco Estuary vital and self-sustaining…Wetlands protect downstream waters by filtering out or transforming naturally occurring and man made pollutants such as the fertilizers, pesticides, automobile pollutants and sediment found in treated wastewater effluent and storm water runoff. Wetlands reduce the effects of flooding and prevent shoreline erosion by providing water storage within the floodplain area, slowing water velocities, reducing peak flows, and increasing flow duration.
The vast majority of scientists are in agreement in projecting a sea level rise of 55 inches over the next several decades. It would be wrong to put an increased number of people and property at risk, when restored wetlands could actually help to mitigate the effects of flooding.
The Cargill salt ponds are currently zoned open space. Since salt production has ceased, it is time for Cargill to sell the land at an appropriate price. Be assured that a willing coalition of buyers—Federal and state agencies along with private foundations—will step forward to purchase and restore the land as part of the Don Edwards Wildlife Refuge.