Bay Nature magazineOctober-December 2004

Letter from the Publisher

October 1, 2004

As I have worked these past months on the special report in this issue on the South Bay salt pond restoration project, I’ve become enormously impressed by the all-around good will, dedication, intelligence, and coordination that characterizes this ambitious, sprawling collaboration between scientists, public officials, environmentalists, business people, and the public at large.

It all started with grassroots activism on the part of citizens who were able to think big and project a vision of a bayshore radically different from the industrial saltscape that has long dominated the South Bay. Environmental laws limiting development on wetlands were an essential start. But the dream of purchasing the salt ponds to restore them to wildlife habitat required more than guts and good laws; it required vast sums of money — $100 million to start with. The actual restoration will require even more of the same, much more.

That’s just not the kind of money you can raise through year-end direct mail appeals. Armed with a science-based plan showing the feasibility and desirability of restoring Bay wetlands, environmentalists were able to convince supportive public officials (and several large foundations) to come up with millions of dollars to purchase the ponds. These are your tax dollars at work, folks, doing something innovative, creative, and beneficial. Usually, we only get to marshal these kinds of human and financial resources for a war on something. This isn’t a war on anything; it’s a grand, collective act of respect for our environment, and we’re incredibly fortunate to be part of it.

Unfortunately, in this era of budget deficits and tax cutting, it is going to get harder to fund this kind of endeavor. Tax breaks may buy you a small backyard pond, but they won’t buy you 16,500 permanently-protected acres of wetlands filled with wildlife. Or pioneering wetlands restoration science. November 2nd is election day, and there are significant choices up and down the ballot. If this kind of concerted effort to reverse decades of degrading the environment is important to you, then please vote as if your wetlands (and a lot of other things) depended on it.

Then after elections come the holidays. And while you probably can’t afford to give a wetland to a loved one for Christmas, you can give a subscription to Bay Nature. Because Bay Nature helps get you out into the Bay Area’s open spaces, and also serves to nurture the community of people that protects them. With this issue, Bay Nature completes its fourth year of publication with a sense of pride that we’ve made it this far, surprise that four years have gone by so quickly, and delight at all the stories still left for us to tell. We look forward to sharing them with you in our fifth year and beyond.

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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