Anyone following the news knows that we’ve got an election coming up, but it doesn’t really hit home until you start getting voter information and absentee ballots in the mail. I got mine in the mail last week along with just about everyone else in the San Francisco Bay area.
While the presidential primary and other initiatives are taking up a lot of space on the June 7 ballot in the Bay Area, I want to make sure that people don’t overlook Measure AA. Quite simply, this is the most important opportunity we’ll have in our lifetimes to safeguard habitat for birds in San Francisco Bay.
Called the Clean and Healthy Bay ballot measure, Measure AA will raise $500 million over the next 20 years for wetland restoration. Historically, San Francisco Bay had 200,000 acres of wetland habitat. There are only about 40,000 acres left.
Despite this loss of habitat, more than a million shorebirds and waterfowl use San Francisco Bay habitat at the height of migration, making it one of the most important places for birds in the Western Hemisphere. The area includes twelve spots designated as Important Bird Areas due to the high number of rare and endangered bird species as well as the sheer number of birds supported by the bay and surrounding wetlands.
I’ve been thrilled at the sight of San Francisco Bay’s birds since I was a little girl, driving down 80 with my parents from Folsom, where I grew up, to visit family in Oakland and in the city. I always made it a point to sit on the right side of the car to see the thousands of shorebirds and ducks on the mudflats in Richmond and Berkeley.
So many birds -- Greater and Lesser Scaup, Bufflehead, Ruddy Ducks. Surf Scoters, Willets, Marbled Godwits, grebes, Wigeon, Pintails, Coots, Cormorants and Loons. Oh, and the Long-billed Curlews, always a favorite with me and my dad.
San Francisco Bay has so much to offer for people – food, entertainment, cultural diversity, booming tech economy, you name it – that it’s easy to forget that the natural world has a tremendous foothold right here within our midst. And these natural treasures are a vital part of what we value in this place, and are worth protecting.
The birds aren’t the only reason to vote for Measure AA, but they’re a great reason. I invite you to learn more about the measure on our website.
My hope is that when you fill out your absentee ballots in the coming days, you’ll remember for vote YES on Measure AA.