Heron's Breast Park
Restoring saltwater wetlands in the San Francisco Bay.
Industrialization of the San Francisco coastline has vastly eliminated tidal marsh habitats due to filling or alteration. The primary explanation for this change is rapid population and industrial growth, set in motion at the dawn of the Gold Rush in 1848. Wetlands at the Bay’s edge were prime candidates to accommodate the boom in agriculture, population growth, and the construction of ports for trade and commerce. This resulted in the filling and diking of crucial wetland areas. Tidal marsh habitats provide numerous benefits, including alleviating pressures from sea level rise, erosion control, maintaining important subtidal habitats, improving nutrient filtration, storing carbon, and providing shoreline protection. Tidal marshes are also home to many native plant species and are used by invertebrates, fish, reptiles, and birds for foraging, breeding, and nesting. With shrinking coastal wetland acreage, the community's access to nature has been equally curtailed. There is a growing need to integrate nature into cities in a way that provides education, supports physical activity, and fosters a sense of community. A restorative saltwater wetland park provides critical habitat, accommodates sea level rise, and offers a valuable connection between people and wildlife.