In a joint letter sent to the California Natural Resources Agency Secretary Wade Crowfoot and Deputy Secretary for Biodiversity, Jennifer Norris, 25 organizations and coalitions representing hundreds of thousands of Californians called on the agency to prioritize the protection, restoration and resilience of San Francisco Bay’s wetlands and adjacent uplands that support marsh migration, as part of the state’s “30 by 30” conservation initiative. The 30×30 Initiative is part of a global effort to preserve 30% of the world’s lands and waters by 2030 in order to combat rapidly declining numbers and diversity of wildlife species.
The letter cites the numerous benefits of coastal wetlands, including:
- The role of wetlands to support climate resilience by sequestering carbon and buffering communities from flooding and sea level rise
- The critical importance of wetlands to biodiversity, as the base of the marine and terrestrial food web and habitat for dozens of endangered species
- The importance of San Francisco Bay’s wetlands to millions of shorebirds and waterbirds migrating annually across the Pacific Flyway
- The value of the Bay’s wetlands to advance outdoor access for all, given the Bay’s close proximity to over 7.5 million Bay Area residents.
Amongst its recommendations, the letter urges the state to “prioritize the acquisition of unprotected San Francisco Bay wetlands, restorable wetlands and ‘transition’ areas for wetlands to migrate upslope as sea levels rise, with an immediate emphasis on those [areas] at risk of development.” These transition areas or wetland migration zones, are particularly threatened around the Bay, with the San Francisco Estuary Institute (SFEI) estimating that as much of 70% of the 14,400 acres of open space identified as necessary for wetlands to migrate upslope as sea levels rise are currently unprotected and at-risk of development.
Newark Area 4 has long been identified by SF Bay scientists and resource managers as a critical opportunity for wetland protection and restoration in San Francisco Bay, and one of the few locations where wetlands can migrate upslope with sea level rise in the South Bay. Given the extraordinary, demonstrated benefits of coastal wetlands to our communities and environment, protecting the Newark Area 4 baylands should be considered a top priority for the State of California’s 30×30 efforts.
(Photo: Greco Island, San Francisco Bay by Scot Griffin)