Save Newark Wetlands is an initiative of the Citizens Committee to Complete the Refuge, with the support of over a dozen conservation, climate resilience, and housing organizations, as well as thousands of Bay Area residents, working together to protect over 500 acres of historic San Francisco Bay wetlands and wildlife habitat in the City of Newark formally called “Newark Area 4.” This campaign supports the permanent protection, restoration and inclusion of Newark Area 4 into the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge.
About Citizens Committee to Complete the Refuge
The Citizens Committee to Complete the Refuge is an all-volunteer organization that for over 50 years has championed the creation, expansion and protection of San Francisco Bay’s National Wildlife Refuge – the first urban national wildlife refuge in the country. Since leading successful efforts to create the Refuge in 1972, and expand it in 1988, the organization has tirelessly fought to protect the Refuge and potential Refuge lands and restore the diverse ecosystems that make San Francisco Bay the heart of our region. You can learn more about the organization at www.bayrefuge.org
Image Right: The Citizens Committee to Complete the Refuge was founded by Florence LaRiviere, who over the past 50 years has led successful efforts to protect thousands of acres of Bay wetlands including establishing – and later expanding – the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge.
History of Efforts to Protect Newark Area 4
Bay advocates, led by the Citizens Committee to Complete the Refuge, have been working for over 30 years to protect Newark Area 4 from development.
Historic San Francisco Bay wetlands and upland habitat that were diked off the Bay for agriculture, and then later the home to two duck clubs - Whistling Wings and Pintail Duck Clubs - Newark Area 4 was purchased by developers in the 1980s.
Despite the site being almost entirely in a 100-year FEMA flood hazard zone, pumped regularly to avoid flooding, with zero existing city infrastructure, and recorded use of endangered Bay wildlife on the site, the City of Newark and developers have submitted various proposals to develop the Newark Area 4, including a tech campus, a golf course and housing, and now the latest proposal, an executive housing development called “Sanctuary West,” which would include 469 executive houses, sprawled across the current open space site.
The Citizens Committee to Complete the Refuge, Newark residents and allies have vehemently opposed development of Area 4, successfully winning two lawsuits to force additional environmental review, and challenging every aspect of the development. However on November 14, 2019, the Newark City Council voted 4-1 to approve the proposed “Sanctuary West” development.
That decision is currently being challenged by a lawsuit by the Citizens Committee to Complete the Refuge and the Center for Biological Diversity.
While it is critical to continue to challenge the City of Newark’s approval of this development project, and to encourage regulatory agencies such as the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission and San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board to exercise their full regulatory authority to protect this site, we know that ultimately the only way we can truly “Save Newark Wetlands” and protect Newark Area 4 from development is through its permanent protection and inclusion in the Don Edwards SF Bay National Wildlife Refuge.
A Duck Hunters Perspective: Wally Peters
Early efforts to protect the Whistling Wings and Pintail Duck Clubs from development were led by the duck hunters themselves, who formed a close bond with conservationists in defense of these lands. One of the most outspoken of these duck hunters was Wally Peters. Read Wally’s recollections about this wildlife-rich area of the Bay.