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December 17, 2008 > Save the Bay

Save the Bay

By Meenu Gupta
Photos By Dan Sullivan

The Winter Solstice on December 21st is the shortest day of the year as the tilt of the Earth is farthest from the sun for the Northern Hemisphere. From this point on, the earth begins to realign and each day gains a bit more sunlight. Though this date marks the beginning of winter, it is also a reminder that spring, natures season of renewal is on its way.

If you love being with nature, here is your chance to mingle with it and protect it. Volunteer and save the Bay by planting wetland species this winter at any of the wetland sites along the shoreline. Save the Bay, the oldest and largest membership organization, is working to protect and restore San Francisco Bay.

"We are seeking volunteers to help us restore the Bay shoreline at Eden Landing by planting native seedlings like salt grass and fleshy jaumea into these former salt ponds, which are part of the South Bay Salt Pond restoration project. By restoring wetlands, we are providing critical wetland habitat for endangered Bay wildlife and combating global warming," said Jessica Castelli, Communications Director. "This winter Save The Bay has an ambitious goal to plant 20,000 seedlings along the shoreline and we need both volunteer and monetary support to reach this goal."

Scientists have found that tidal salt marshes capture carbon from greenhouse gases in the air efficiently and effectively, helping to stop global warming. Estuarine wetlands, such as those surrounding San Francisco Bay, sequester ten times more carbon per area than any other wetland ecosystem. Wetlands also keep the Bay healthy by providing vital habitat for endangered species, filtering pollution to improve water quality, and preventing erosion. Wetlands also provide flood control when water levels are high and act as a buffer in the event of sea level rise.

Save the Bay is working with local partners to establish 100,000 acres of healthy wetlands ringing the Bay by protecting remaining wetlands and restoring former wetlands, like portions of the South Bay salt ponds, back to their natural tidal marsh state. Planting during the wet season ensures that rainfall will give each young plant the water it needs to grow and thrive.

Volunteers will help improve upland transition zones, thin strips of vegetation located between Bay water habitats and land habitats. These buffer zones play a vital role in providing habitat for wildlife seeking refuge from the high tides of winter. This year several corporations, including Kaiser Permanente, Oracle, Budweiser, Intel and REI, are making a commitment to the Bay and have already scheduled private restoration programs.

"Our hands-on restoration programs are a fun and proactive way for the community to help address climate change issues by increasing our coastal resilience to future impacts of rising Bay waters," said Darcie Collins , Habitat Restoration Director, Save the Bay. The organization is offering 70 volunteer programs for schools, business and community groups, families, and individuals, including events to commemorate the upcoming Winter Solstice.

To volunteer as an individual visit, contact Save the Bay at or call (510) 452-9261. Save the Bay is in particular need of volunteers to help with winter plantings during the week of December 15-19 at any of three sites in Oakland, Hayward and Palo Alto. If you would like to schedule a private outing for your community or corporate group please contact Jocelyn Gretz, Community Programs Manager at (510) 452-9261 x109 or email

Winter Solstice Planting at Eden Landing Ecological Reserve (Hayward)
Thursday, December 18

Winter Solstice Planting at San Francisquito Creek (Palo Alto)
Friday, December 19

Plant Natives in the Wetlands at the MLK Jr. Shoreline (Oakland)
Saturday, December 20

All volunteer restoration programs are from 9 a.m. - 12 p.m. and are free but require RSVP.

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