ReWild wraps up wetlands workshops on Mission Bay
by DAVE SCHWAB
Published - 05/05/17 - 06:49 AM | 1832 views | 0 0 comments | 27 27 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Rebecca Schwartz Lesberg, project manager for ReWild Mission Bay, points out wetlands on the map at the workshop.       PHOTO BY DAVE SCHWAB
Rebecca Schwartz Lesberg, project manager for ReWild Mission Bay, points out wetlands on the map at the workshop. PHOTO BY DAVE SCHWAB
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Beach residents got their last chance on April 25 to weigh in on proposed alternatives for reclaiming marshland in Mission Bay at a fourth public workshop hosted by ReWild Mission Bay at Mission Bay High School.

ReWild Mission Bay is a project of San Diego Audubon to enhance and restore up to 170 acres of wetlands in the northeast corner of Mission Bay.

Wetlands including marshes, mud flats and riverbanks play an important role in San Diego’s quality of life, attracting wildlife, fostering a diverse ecosystem, improving water quality and protecting communities from flooding by providing a cushion during high tides. 

Today, only about 1 percent of the historic 4,500 acres of Mission Bay wetlands remain, making ReWild Mission Bay a critical and time-sensitive project for the area.

ReWild co-exists with the city of San Diego’s De Anza Revitalization Plan, which seeks to re-imagine, repurpose and revitalize De Anza and the surrounding area. The three-year De Anza program will develop conceptual revitalization plan alternatives that result in a preferred plan, an amendment to the Mission Bay Park Master Plan and an environmental impact report. The goal will be to create an iconic recreation destination that balances recreation, environment and commerce.

How the city chooses to revitalize De Anza Cove, will directly impact how the sensitive wetlands in the North East corner of the regional park are restored.

Mission Bay attracts more than 14 million visitors annually. Its wetlands supply habitat for hundreds of local wildlife species, while protecting San Diego from climate change impacts such as flooding, as well as improving water quality. 

Based on community suggestions from three public workshops earlier this year, ReWild's draft plans to restore up to 170 acres of wetlands were presented April 25 to more than 140 community members to collect input one last time. 

“These plans have been vetted by our scientific partners to determine their feasibility, and this last round of public input brings us to the next important phase to finalize the plans,” said Rebecca Schwartz Lesberg, project manager for ReWild Mission Bay.

ReWild Mission Bay will now use all the public input gained to refine options to ensure they meet the Rewild project's restoration goals.

Those goals include:

• Restoring wetlands to improve water quality, reduce flooding, adapt to climate change, and support fish, birds, and other animals and plants.

• Protecting wetlands from the negative impacts of human activity.

• Providing ways for the community to engage with natural resources through access, recreation and education.

“Mission Bay started its life as a 4,500-acre estuary complex at the mouth of the San Diego River,” noted Schwartz Lesberg. “From the 1940s to the 1960s, the city of San Diego dredged most of the wetlands to transform the bay into the recreational destination we see today. At the time, the importance of wetlands to our coastal communities wasn’t well understood. Now we know better.”

Next steps include a final presentation to the community in September, approval by the San Diego City Council, environmental review, and permitting before the restoration of the area’s wetlands.

San Diego Audubon, a nonprofit dedicated to protecting birds, other wildlife and their habitats, is working closely with the City of San Diego, the California State Coastal Conservancy, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, and the University of California’s Natural Reserve System on the wetlands effort. 

For more information on ReWild Mission Bay, visit www.rewildmissionbay.org.

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