Leaf Litter

"You Said It" Survey

Find out what you and other Leaf Litter Readers think presents the greatest threat to biodiversity in the San Francisco Bay Bioregion.

By Amy Nelson

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The ecosystems of the San Francisco Bay Bioregion provide invaluable services to hundreds of species of birds, fish, mammals, amphibians, reptiles and mammals – including humans. But its salt ponds, mudflats, salt marshes, vernal pools, open bays, uplands, oak savannahs, redwood forests and coastal scrub communities must deal with many challenges in order to stay ecologically viable. Can the ecology of this majestic region cope with the pressure of human population growth and urban development?

While only 9% of you live and/or work in the San Francisco Bay Bioregion, half of you say you play there. It’s not surprising, then, that many of you contributed your thoughts about the Bioregion in response to our reader survey…

A few of you have actually been involved in ecological restoration, conservation planning work in the San Francisco Bay area and were kind enough to tell us about your experience and provide links:

  • I was the assistant planner for Association of Bay Area Government’s first ocean coastline plan (1967-68).
  • Remediation of contaminated groundwater sites for the USEPA
  • South Bay Salt Pond Restoration
  • Creekside Center for Earth Observation
  • I was the coordinator of ecological restoration projects in the Presidio of San Francisco for several years, including grassland, dune, and marsh sites.


A majority of you say that open space is the San Francisco Bay Bioregion’s most important natural resource in terms of the area’s overall ecological health. Here’s how you ranked the Bioregion’s resources overall:

Whether you are specifically concerned about runoff, loss of floodplain or habitat fragmentation and destruction, 90% of you consider “expanding urbanization” enemy #1 when it comes to ecological health and environmental quality within the San Francisco Bay Bioregion. Other threats mentioned included invasive species, climate change and industrial agriculture.

82% of you consider the San Francisco Bay Bioregion to be ahead of the curve in terms of environmental policy and/or sustainable design, when compared to the rest of the U.S. Here’s what some of you had to say:

  • I can only respond about the Puget Sound and the SF bay area. They are probably on a par. I know a lot of work is also being done in other areas but not the specifics. Steinberg’s bill from the last session of the legislature is the best example.
  • We have already established over 1 million acres of protected open space, and are realizing how broad and deep the stewardship needs are
  • The ‘Governator’ is ahead of the curve.
  • Now living in MA, another relatively progressive place, it’s quite clear that SF/CA is well ahead in terms of number of people knowledgeable about natural resources, green politics and green design.
  • It’s a lot more active in conserving habitat and preventing pollution than, say, Texas.
  • The State agencies, such as regional water boards and air quality boards have serious mandates and they enforce these mandates (compared to many other states)


That said, 87% you say that local, state and federal agencies are not doing enough to protect the natural resources of the San Francisco Bay Bioregion. Most of you blame the economy and competition for resources. To quote one of you, “Funds…funds…funds…” Some of you said that the region needs more resources for outreach and management. As one of you said, “There is an overwhelming need for more stewardship/management resources to catch up with ongoing land acquisition (which we are very good at so far).”

One of you offered another interesting suggestion:

In such as densely populated area, it is good to know that environmental issues have remained at the forefront of discussions. Possibly, the designation of some areas, like the Presidio and sections of GG Park, and other open spaces, could have greater emphasis on management for rare species and communities. The Bay area is a place where you might be able to pull it off!!

So say you are the executive director of an environmental non-profit organization, or a public official like “The Governator.” What would you do to improve the ecological conditions in the San Francisco Bay Bioregion? Here are some of your suggestions:

  • Prohibit building on flood plains. Put them into conservation. Restore flood plains. Restore river and stream riparian areas. Preserve areas that are still in good ecological condition.
  • Emphasize habitat restoration. Emphasize smart growth. Conserve water.
  • More citizen involvement in stewardship and political oomph for conservation of endangered species
  • Use natural processes to address ecological deficiencies.
  • Sustainable development, public and green transportation, urban and agricultural stormwater BMPs (controlled drainage as an ag BMP)
  • Work toward finding solutions that all Americans can get behind to address global warming and ensure large natural areas are not developed through a public-private partnership approach.
  • Use electric vehicles and expand the native plant nursery program at the Presidio Trust to the whole Bay area.
  • Water conservation, wetland restoration and education.


As always, we welcome your feedback. If you have any comments regarding this survey or about Leaf Litter in general, please contact our editor.

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