Need for Speed Cited in Bay Restoration Efforts

The Bay Area needs to hurry efforts to restore Bay wetlands, according to a recent San Francisco Chronicle story on efforts to restore wetlands around San Francisco Bay—including some efforts closely backed by the Bay Area Council. Scientists estimated in 1999 that the Bay needs at least 100,000 acres of healthy wetlands (down from about 250,000 acres pre-Gold Rush) to sustain a robust aquatic ecosystem. Today, the region has 56,000 acres of wetlands, with another 18,000 acres awaiting restoration. Healthy wetlands can absorb tidal energy and reduce flood risks from sea level rise and extreme storm events. A 2015 report by the Bay Area Council Economic Institute—Surviving the Storm—found that the combination of rising seas and an extreme storm event could wreak $10.8 billion in damage on the region.

However, rising sea levels are projected to increase the cost and technical difficulty of restoring wetlands within about ten years’ time. In recent years, the Council co-chaired successful Regional Measure AA campaign which will raise $500 million over 20 years for wetland restoration and flood protection projects. This year, the Council helped establish a new permit streamlining system known as the Bay Restoration Regulatory Integration Team, which will shorten the length of time to obtain restoration permits from years to months. To engage with the Council’s Committee on Water & Climate Resilience, please contact Vice President of Public Policy Adrian Covert.

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