As you have probably heard, 16,500 acres of salt ponds in southern San Francisco Bay will soon be purchased from Cargill Salt and handed over to the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge. This historic purchase, funded by a combination of state, federal, and private monies, opens the door to the possibility of restoring a significant portion of the South Bay’s tidal wetlands. The purchase comes on the heels of two new reports that discuss the benefits of acquisition and restoration of the salt ponds. Save the Bay, a local environmental organization that has worked for conversion of the ponds for several decades, analyzes the feasibility of restoring this habitat in its report Turning Salt into Environmental Gold. The report recommends that two-thirds of the salt ponds be returned to tidal marsh, open water, and related habitats in order to protect water quality and ensure a healthy future for the estuary’s fish and wildlife. It also suggests that the remaining ponds be left as salt marsh, which is important habitat for certain migratory bird species. A second report, South Bay Salt Pond Restoration, compiled by Stuart W. Siegel and Philip A. M. Bachand of Wetlands and Water Resources, maintains that the public should “absolutely” restore these ponds and offers detailed information on what it will take to do so. For more information, contact Save the Bay at (510) 452-9261 or visit www.savesfbay.org, and contact Wetlands and Water Resources at (415) 457-6746 or visit www.wetlands-and-water-resources.com.
Bay Nature magazine ◦ July-September 2002