Stewardship

Bay Nature Publisher David Loeb: Yes on Measure AA

May 10, 2016

It appears that, once again, by the time the California primary rolls around, both the Republicans and Democrats will already have their “presumptive nominees” for president. So is there any reason to go to the polls on Tuesday, June 7? ABSOLUTELY!!

In case you haven’t heard, that’s the day we in the Bay Area get to deliver the message that we want a Clean and Healthy Bay and that we’re willing to pay $1 a month (if we’re property owners) to make sure we get it.

When it comes to San Francisco Bay, we’re at a tipping point. On the one hand, we’ve stopped the destructive filling of the Bay and now have some two and a half decades experience under our belt restoring a small but significant portion of the 200,000 acres of Bay wetlands lost to agricultural and infrastructural development. On the other hand, we’ve got sea level rise coming on strong, threatening much of that infrastructure as well as many of those restored sites.

Fortunately, we are learning—rather quickly—how to adapt our shorelines to be resilient to the rising tides without having to resort to expensive walls and levees to keep them out. And we’ve come to realize that this kind of “soft” and “natural” infrastructure along the shoreline buys us not only resilience to climate change and protection from flooding, but also great wildlife habitat and increased recreational access to the gem of a waterway at the heart of our region.

The problem is, restoring wetlands isn’t cheap. And that’s where the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority comes in. It was created by the state legislature back in 2008 to oversee and coordinate funding for Bay-focused restoration activites. But there’s another problem: This authority doesn’t have any money. That’s where you and Measure AA come in.

Under Measure AA, your dollar per month—along with that of all property owners thoughout the nine county Bay Area—will be transformed into at least $500,000,000 for Bay restoration projects over the next 20 years. Moreover, that funding will leverage additional state and federal monies for flood control, endangered species protection, and the like.

So…what’s the downside? I give up; I don’t see one. Except that Measure AA needs a two-thirds majority to pass, and that’s a big lift. And an even bigger one if you don’t vote! So I’m hoping that we’ll all get to the polls to take advantage of this once-in-a-generation opportunity to ensure the future health and survival of San Francisco Bay and of the human and wildlife communities that depend on it.

To find out more, go to yesonaaforthebay.com.

About the Author

From 2001-2017, David Loeb served as editor and then publisher of Bay Nature magazine, and executive director of the nonprofit Bay Nature Institute. A Bay Area resident since 1973, David moved here after graduating from college in Boston. The decision was largely based on a week spent visiting friends in San Francisco the previous January, which had included a memorable day at Point Reyes National Seashore. In the late 1990s, after many years working for the Guatemala News and Information Bureau in Oakland, David had the opportunity to spend more time hiking and exploring the parks and open spaces of the Bay Area. Increasingly curious about what he was seeing, he began reading natural history books, attending naturalist-led hikes and natural history courses and lectures, and volunteering for several local conservation organizations.

This was rewarding, but he began to feel that the rich natural diversity of the Bay Area deserved a special venue and a dedicated voice for the whole region, to supplement the many publications devoted to one particular place or issue. That’s when the germ of Bay Nature magazine began to take shape. In February 1997, David contacted Malcolm Margolin, publisher of Heyday Books and News from Native California, with the idea of a magazine focused on nature in the Bay Area, and was delighted with Malcolm’s enthusiastic response. Over the course of many discussions with Malcolm, publishing professionals, potential funders, and local conservation and advocacy groups, the magazine gradually took shape and was launched in January 2001. It is still going strong, with a wider base of support than ever.

Now retired, David contributes monthly to his Bay Nature column "Field Reports."

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