Washington D.C. – Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose) yesterday joined Representative Mike Thompson (D-Napa Valley) and other members of the Bay Area Congressional Delegation to introduce legislation that will foster the survival of wetlands fisheries and waterfowl populations and improve water quality through restoration of the San Francisco Bay Estuary.
This bill will authorize $50 million for the San Francisco Bay Estuary Ecosystem Restoration Project. Of that amount, up to $20 million would be used in the San Pablo Bay watershed and up to $10 million in the Grizzley Island Wildlife Area of the Suisun Marsh.
“When we protect San Francisco Bay, we enhance our quality of life for everyone,” said Lofgren. “We have a responsibility to ensure that that this incredible resource is protected for future generations.”
"This legislation is critical to protect and restore these wetlands," said Thompson. "It has received widespread support from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, private companies and the Bay Area Congressional Delegation. By creating a healthier habitat, we are working towards ensuring the survival of our wetlands fisheries and waterfowl populations. Important fish species that would be helped include steelhead, Chinook salmon and white and green sturgeon. These wetlands serve as a major stopover along the Pacific Flyway for tens of thousands of migratory waterfowl and millions of shorebirds."
As the largest estuarine system on the West Coast, the San Francisco Bay Estuary is made up of the San Francisco Bay, San Pablo Bay and Suisun Bay. This watershed once included the largest contiguous tract of former tidal wetlands in the State of California.
"The devastation of the wetlands has contributed to declines in fish and wildlife populations and water quality," said Marc Holmes, Bay Restoration Program Manager of The Bay Institute of San Francisco. "This plan will protect, restore or enhance thousands of acres of baylands and creeks by 2020. It will also allow local municipalities to participate in smaller projects that are part of bigger regional goals."
The bill has been identified by the San Francisco Bay Estuary Watershed Restoration Project as a means to help local governments improve ecological conditions that may have resulted from flood protection and erosion, sedimentation and pollution abatement.
Lofgren and Thompson were joined by fellow Bay Area Representatives Lynn Woolsey, George Miller, Nancy Pelosi, Ellen Tauscher, Sam Farr, Tom Lantos, Barbara Lee, Pete Stark and Anna Eshoo who signed onto the bill as original cosponsors. The San Francisco Bay Estuary Restoration Act of 2002 will be referred to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure for consideration.