Baykeeper's Monthly Column

Baykeeper publishes a monthly column on San Francisco Bay cultural, environmental, and maritime issues.
(August 2016) After the owner of Point Buckler Island filled its wetlands and tidal marshes without proper permits, authorities ordered him to restore the island’s important wetland ecosystem. They also levied a fine of $4.6 million for damage to the 39-acre island, which is located in Suisun Bay, a major inlet of San Francisco Bay at the gateway to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The island’s...
(July 2016) All around San Francisco Bay during Fourth of July celebrations, brightly colored fireworks light up the night sky. It’s a fun tradition. But how much does the rockets’ red glare pollute the Bay? Fireworks are often set off over water, because setting them off over land creates a risk of fire. However, fireworks can cause so much pollution that some communities ban them over lakes...
(June 2016) From the deck of Baykeeper’s 24-foot patrol boat on San Francisco Bay, we saw large black piles of petroleum coke looming along the Richmond shoreline. One pile was much higher than a low wall that barely held it back from the Bay. Coke was accumulating near the top of the wall, ready to fall into the water. Above the piles, a giant conveyor belt transferred the material into a huge...
(May 2016) Calling all swimmers, kayakers, stand-up paddleboarders and boaters! You are invited to be part of Baykeeper’s Third Annual Bay Parade on Sunday, May 22. Join hundreds of other participants for a fun and active day on San Francisco Bay. Swimmers will swim 6.5 miles, solo or in relay teams, along the San Francisco waterfront. Kayakers and paddleboarders will join in for a one-mile...
(April 2016) Should local salmon be pushed to extinction? Should some Bay Area residents pay much higher water bills? Should San Francisco Bay be contaminated with toxic pollutants? My guess is that Bay Area readers would answer these questions with a resounding “no,” but these scenarios will become reality if the two 30-mile water tunnels proposed by Governor Jerry Brown are built. The tunnels...
(March 2016) Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. It looks like developers are trying to fool all of us who love San Francisco Bay—twice. For the second time in less than a year, development threatens the Bay with contamination from coal. Developers are proposing to build a shipping terminal at the site shown at right on the shore of Mare Island Strait in Vallejo. They may be...
(February 2016)                       What happens in the Bay doesn’t always stay in the Bay. Case in point: Sand mining companies are digging up too much sand from the floor of San Francisco Bay, making erosion worse at San Francisco’s Ocean Beach. The erosion threatens sensitive shorebird habitat, a major sewer line and the Great Highway. Excessive sand mining causes harm inside the Bay, too....
(January 2016) What’s ahead for San Francisco Bay in 2016? Here are the top pollution threats Baykeeper foresees in the year to come, plus ways we’re fighting to stop these threats. Oil Spills. The large number of container ships and oil tankers on San Francisco Bay create a constant risk for oil spills. But now the oil industry is upping the risk, by pushing to ship millions more barrels of oil...
(December 2015) This winter is forecast to bring heavy rains to the Bay Area. But no matter how much rain falls, it’s unlikely to end the current drought. So here are some things we can all do to help protect San Francisco Bay from the surge of pollution that comes during the winter rainy season, including some tips that also help fight drought.  One serious winter pollution problem for San...
(November 2015) This year, record numbers of starving seals and sea lions have washed up on California beaches, including those in the Bay Area. In recent months, hundreds of young common murres—sea birds that look like small penguins—have been discovered dead or dying on beaches in more than a dozen Bay Area locations. Scientists believe global climate change is negatively altering the supplies...

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