Our Day of Service Restoring Wetlands at Eden Landing
Categories: Ecology & Sustainability Event Info
One of my favorite things about working at North Atlantic Books is that we don’t just put out books about making the world a better place—we go out in to the world and make it happen! This is what our day of service is all about. Volunteering is an awesome opportunity to get away from our desks for an afternoon, and to get to know some of the issues that affect our neighbors and our habitat, and then do something about it. This year we worked with Save The Bay, a local organization that has been dedicated to protecting the San Francisco Bay since 1961.
Over the last one hundred years, we’ve lost an astonishing number of acres of wetlands around the Bay Area to agriculture and urban development. Save The Bay is leading the effort to re-establish 100,000 acres of tidal marsh over the next 50+ years. Tidal marsh zones are not only beautiful places to bike, kayak, and bird-watch, but are a vital part of protecting our cities from floods and sea rise. These areas also prevent toxic runoff on land from reaching the water, and can capture and store carbon from the atmosphere, which helps curb global warming. We have about a thousand reasons to help support their regrowth, and the crew at Save The Bay makes it easy for volunteer groups to get out there and start getting plants in the ground. When it’s as simple as that, there’s no reason not to be a part of this effort.
Our group spent the day at the Eden Landing Nature Preserve in Hayward, California. This area was once home to the Ohlone who were the first to harvest salt from these marshes for preserving food and tanning hides. With the Gold Rush, salt production became a major industry in Alameda County, and evidence of the facilities haunt the landing in the form of skeletal remains of salt kilns. Pair that with the occasional murmuration of birds over ponds that mirrored the partly cloudy sky, and you might get a sense of how eerie the place could have felt, had it not been so alive with restoration activity. Occasionally along the levees we’d see a giant pile of oyster shells, some of which had been strewn about on the nearby mudflats. Again, kind of an eerie sight, but we learned that those, too, were a part of the restoration. Donated by Drake’s Bay Oyster Company, these shells were spread around the flats to help protect the snowy plovers which nest in the mud. Oyster shells provide a decoy so that the plovers, a threatened species, aren’t so easy for birds of prey to spot on the flats.
Our mission at Eden Landing was to help restore a transition zone habitat. Transition zones are the areas between the bay and the land, and are an essential part of a healthy bay ecosystem. We spent three hours planting goldenrod, alkali-heath, gumplant, and salt grass. These plants will grow to help prevent erosion of levees, filter pollution, and provide a safe habitat for animals to retreat to when water rises. Personally, knowing that I could help a salt marsh harvest mouse find a place to stay dry during high tide gave me all kinds of warm fuzzies.
By the end of the day, we had successfully added five hundred more plants to the transition zone. And while it was a great accomplishment— our sore muscles today are a testament to our tremendous effort— those five-hundred plants are just small piece of Save The Bay’s 100,000 acre goal. There’s still a lot of work to do! If you’re in the area and interested in helping out, visit their website to check their volunteer calendar. You can also read more about how important healthy wetlands are to our planet in Liz Cunningham’s excellent book Ocean County.
On behalf of all of us at North Atlantic Books, I want thank Save The Bay, for helping us be a part of your tremendous efforts, and special thanks to our Field Leader, Jack, for showing us the ropes, giving us a little history and information about the marshes, and for making our Day of Service great!