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May 1, 2007 > Salt Ponds Legislation passes Natural Resources Committee

Salt Ponds Legislation passes Natural Resources Committee

Legislation by Senator Ellen Corbett (D-San Leandro) to authorize funding for the restoration of the salt ponds in South San Francisco Bay passed a key Senate policy committee.

SB 854, which prioritizes funding from Proposition 84 to create trails and educational visitor centers around Bay Area salt ponds, passed the Senate Natural Resources Committee on a 6-2 vote.

"California has spent more than $100 million to purchase salt ponds around San Francisco Bay, and I believe it is important that the public has access to these valuable lands," Senator Corbett said. "We should use this opportunity to protect valuable habitat, create extraordinary recreational opportunities and educate the public on the ecological functions around the Bay."

In 2003, the state entered into a landmark public-private partnership with the purchase of 16,500 acres of salt ponds along San Francisco Bay shore and Napa River with the goal of turning them into wetlands and tidal marshes.

"Senator Corbett's bill will help realize the public's dream of restoring thousands of acres of wetland habitats - open and accessible to the public for the first time in more than 100 years," said Lori Johnson, assistant vice president for Cargill corporate affairs.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and California Department of Fish & Game own and manage the properties under agreed upon principles. Initial stewardship included costs to optimize the available resources while long-term restoration planning is underway.

The California Coastal Conservancy's San Francisco Bay program is leading the planning and public information effort to craft a widely supported, scientifically sound restoration plan.

"Restoration of a portion of the South Bay salt ponds to tidal habitats provides an opportunity to improve the health of the entire San Francisco Bay," added Sen. Corbett. "Unlike many major land and water conservation projects, the South Bay salt pond restoration effort is centered in the heart of a major urban area, providing a new model for regional restoration projects adjacent to large population centers.

SB 584 will help create an educational center and ensure that the South Bay salt pond restoration project opens up new areas in the South Bay for wildlife-oriented recreation including hiking, biking, fishing, hunting, boating and wildlife watching for generations of Bay Area visitors and residents.

These marshes provide valuable habitat, recreational opportunities and serve multiple ecological functions.

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