Bay Restoration

Are we protecting San Francisco Bay from encroaching development?

Bay Restoration

Definition: 
Bay restoration refers to the acreage of San Francisco Bay. This measure reflects either the Bay’s expansion from restoration projects (such as wetland restorations) or contraction from projects that fill the Bay to create new land for development. This measure is a key indicator of Bay conservation efforts, as well as nearby development activities.

Our region’s most prominent geographic feature, the San Francisco Bay, defines our region as the Bay Area. Yet just a half-century ago, rapid development patterns threatened its very existence as new developments like Foster City, Bay Farm Island and San Francisco International Airport relied on bay fill to create new land close to the region’s center. While policies enacted in the 1960s and 1970s slowed this trend, preservation of the iconic Bay remains a key policy priority as conservation activities continue to restore the Bay and improve environmental conditions.

Regional Performance
Rehabilitation of coastal areas has accelerated at unprecedented rates over the past decade.

Since 1969, the surface area of San Francisco Bay has grown by nearly 19,000 acres – a result of policies discouraging bay fill combined with rehabilitation projects that have restored wetlands all across the region. Remarkably, after a century characterized by bay fill, the 21st century has been quite beneficial for the Bay and its surrounding ecosystem with nearly 90 percent of those acres being restored since 2000. In particular, restoration projects in Sonoma County, Marin County and Solano County have played a key role in improving the Bay ecosystem during this time period. In an era of rising tides, these wetland buffers may prove critical in helping the region adapt to global climate change.

Sources: 

San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission: Annual Report (1969-2014)

Image: Flickr (Creative Commons license), Photographer: Jitze Couperus, https://www.flickr.com/photos/jitze1942/5245212164

Methodology Notes: 

BCDC defines the change in Bay acreage as “any area of the Bay created or restored, including salt ponds converted into tidal action, less the area of the Bay authorized to be filled pursuant to major permits and major consistency determinations through 1987”. This definition includes any administrative amendments to the data.