Commentary on the Vision
Save The Bay's "Creeks to the Bay"
Restoration Vision for Eastshore State Park
Save The Bay has a 40-year history of protecting the
East Bay shoreline, and based on this experience, we have
developed a comprehensive vision for Eastshore State Park
(ESP). While it is not possible to return the East Bay
shoreline to what it once was because of extensive filling
and urban development, it is possible to protect, enhance,
and restore our existing natural resources. Doing so in ESP
will help create a more balanced, sustainable environment
for humans and wildlife alike.
As stated in the ESP unit vision, "Bay Area residents
have long hoped to reclaim their East Bay shoreline by
enhancing this area with an inviting mix of recreational,
scenic, and natural resources." This couldn't come at a
better time. We have lost nearly 95 percent of the Estuary's
tidal wetlands, and as the Bay Area's population soars in the
next few decades, our wetlands and creeks will face
increasing encroachment. The need for open space and
recreational opportunities, particularly along the East Bay
shoreline, will also grow. Increased public access to the
shoreline, including compatible recreational facilities in
appropriate locations, will re-connect people to the Bay
watershed, educate them about the Bay's diverse ecosystem,
encourage civic pride in the Bay, and build public support
for Bay restoration. After decades of development (and
development proposals) and more than a century of private
ownership of much of the East Bay shoreline, we are finally
able to reclaim and restore this priceless resource for both
humans and wildlife. To accomplish this goal, we must
strive to balance the park's recreational opportunities with
protection and restoration of its natural resources.
Eastshore State Park has a unique opportunity to
improve public access to the shoreline while protecting and
enhancing the San Francisco Estuary and the creeks that
flow to it. Rather than creating a conceptual plan that
overlays a variety of recreational uses onto the landscape,
Save The Bay believes that the underlying historical
landscape must shape the plan. Although successive
reconfiguration of the original landscape has occurred, the
park's creeks are still present and represent what remains of
the original landscape. Surrounded by artificial landforms,
the creek mouths sustain critical biological resources and
significant wetland habitat.
Ten creeks flow into the San Francisco Estuary within
ESP boundaries. The collective watersheds of Meeker
Slough and Baxter (Stege), Central, Cerrito, Codornices,
Schoolhouse, Strawberry, Potter, Derby, and Temescal
Creeks represent an important ecological link to the Bay.
Because these watersheds are essential to the Bay's long-
term health, we must restore the critical linkage between
these creeks and the Bay, both functionally and ecologically.
For this reason, Save The Bay strongly recommends that the
ESP conceptual plan include protection and restoration of
the park's creek mouths, associated tidal wetlands, and
upstream creek corridors.
Our vision of restored creek-to-bay linkages can be
achieved only if recreational activities are not superimposed
onto the existing landscape, but are well-integrated with an
ecologically focused plan that emphasizes protection and
restoration of the shoreline and its creeks. Once this
ecological framework is in place, recreational opportunities
can be incorporated in a manner that minimizes impacts to
plant and wildlife habitat. Save The Bay believes that the
growing public support for creek and wetland restoration
will serve as the foundation for a collaborative restoration
project within ESP, particularly if articulated in the
conceptual plan. Save The Bay, the Urban Creeks Council,
local creek groups, and others are interested in participating
in such an effort.
Save The Bay is committed to our "creeks to the Bay"
restoration vision. To help achieve this goal, we strongly
support the following general principles for protection and
enhancement of wetlands and creeks within ESP:
- Restore or enhance all wetlands, creek mouths,
creek corridors, and associated habitat within ESP.
Creek mouths should be "de-piped" and allowed to
create tidal and seasonal wetlands. Provide
appropriate conditions for the restoration of native
- Buffer wetlands, creek mouths, creek corridors,
and associated habitat from areas of intensive human
use (e.g., parking lots, playing fields, and multi-use
paths). Provide habitat transitions wherever possible.
- Public access must be provided, but should be
sited, designed, and managed to prevent significant
adverse effects on wildlife and habitat.
- Provide a continuous Bay Trail linkage
throughout ESP. Completing the Bay Trail along the
East Bay shoreline will provide the public with a rich
shoreline experience that includes wildlife observation
and environmental education.
- Limit or exclude grass playing fields that require
heavy use of pesticides and fertilizers that can
negatively impact wetlands, wildlife, and Bay water
quality. If such uses are included within ESP, artificial
turf or buffer zones and swales must be used to
prevent contaminants from flowing into sensitive
habitat areas or the Bay.
- Distinction should be made between general
recreation uses and recreational opportunities that
require shoreline access. For example, unlike playing
fields or motorized watercraft, human- and wind-
powered watercraft (e.g., kayaks, windsurfers, canoes)
require localized shoreline access with appropriate site
conditions. Such uses should be accommodated where
possible while minimizing impacts to plant and
- Manage the park in a manner that minimizes
impacts to plant and wildlife habitat. Particular
attention should be paid to migratory birds wintering
- Provide opportunities for environmental
education, including field trips for the public, with a
focus on Bay ecology and the important
environmental connection between freshwater creeks
and the Estuary.
- Link creek corridors within ESP with upstream
creek corridors and associated habitat. Not only will
this provide essential wildlife corridors, but also much
needed human transportation corridors. Emphasis
should be placed on providing linkages between ESP
and the Ohlone Greenway.
- Strive to retain the park in a "natural,"
ecologically functional state. Urban development and
impervious paving should be limited to the extent
With respect to specific areas within ESP, Save The Bay
has the following recommendations to help create the park's
- Preserve the Emeryville Crescent and Albany
Mudflats as protected wetland and wildlife habitat
with extremely limited public access.
- Protect, enhance, and restore the Brickyard, the
Berkeley Meadow, and the Albany Bulb as wildlife
habitat with limited public access. These areas
currently provide valuable habitat and offer numerous
opportunities for tidal and seasonal wetland
restoration. Developed trails should be located around
the perimeter of the Meadow and opportunities for
nature interpretation provided.
- Preserve the Albany shoreline near Golden Gate
Fields (i.e., Fleming Point) as one of the last
remaining portions of historic shoreline in the East
Bay. A Bay Trail linkage between the North Basin
strip and the Albany Bulb should be developed.
- Seriously reconsider locating grass playing fields
at the Albany Plateau. Given its proximity to the
Albany Mudflats, this is a poor location for such uses
and should be modified to prevent impacts to wildlife
habitat or Bay water quality (see comments above).
- Acquire Hoffman Marsh, Stege Marsh, the former
Liquid Gold site, the freshwater ponds near Zeneca,
and other appropriate parcels along the Richmond
shoreline at the earliest opportunity. The wetlands
between Meeker Slough and the Albany Mudflats
should be restored and managed as an integrated unit,
including the wetlands and associated uplands
contained at the U.C. Field Station—one of the last
pristine moist grassland habitats in the Bay Area. Add
all of these parcels to ESP and preserve them as a
protected wildlife area similar to the Emeryville
Crescent and Albany Mudflats.
It is not often that we are provided an opportunity to
recreate our communities, to rethink assumptions and
actions made years before. The creation of ESP is one such
historic opportunity, and the chance to plan a contiguous
8-1/2-mile strip of Bay shoreline should not be squandered. Yet
it is a daunting task to juggle competing interests in a
densely urban setting. Eastshore State Park provides a
unique opportunity to expand public access to the Bay
shoreline while protecting and enhancing the crucial link
between the San Francisco Estuary and the creeks that flow
Save The Bay is confident that we can create a park that
will be a showcase of sustainable development with a strong
creek-to-bay connection. Working together, we can reclaim
the East Bay shoreline and create a park that not only
sustains humans and celebrates our connection to the San
Francisco Bay, but also sustains the plants and animals
sharing it with us and keeps the Bay and its watershed
healthy for future generations.