Between the Gold Rush and the mid-20th century, one-third of the San Francisco Bay was filled, destroying 90 percent of the tidal marsh critical to our region's biodiversity, contaminating the Bay with industrial waste, and cutting off all but five miles of shoreline to public access. In 1989, plans were released to fill 60 percent of the remaining Bay, leaving only a narrow channel for navigation and sparking a wave of environmental activism that has helped preserve the Bay Area's landscape and spread an ethic of conservation.
In 2015, filling the Bay is tightly regulated, tidal marshes are being restored, and the Bay Trail runs 350 miles around the edge of the Bay. Building upon decades of grassroots efforts to halt filling of the Bay and create the Bay Conservation and Development Commission, the San Francisco Bay Trail is a catalyst in continued preservation of the Bay—allowing all of our diverse communities to experience the region's natural wealth and create shared ownership.
The Bay Trail is a long-term collaboration among many levels of government, community based organizations and homeowner associations initiated by a 1967 senate bill establishing a vision to create a 500 mile loop around the San Francisco Bay. Each segment of the trail is unique, yet connects with others as one place shared by everyone. It invites people from all backgrounds to enjoy their surroundings—providing an amenity for runners and local residents who enjoy the trail with their families, for office workers on lunch breaks, and tourists looking to explore the region's natural environment and communities. The Trail is also beginning to incorporate public art into the public spaces it connects; providing artists an opportunity to express their reflections on the Bay's natural environment and the culture of the history and culture of the surrounding communities.
The Bay Trail is increasingly integrated into the daily life of the region as it attracts people to the parks and communities that it traverses and creates a unique amenity that celebrates our natural wealth and connection with each other. It embodies the region’s commitment to ecological preservation, healthy living, and diversity. It allows us to cross community and city boundaries that we might otherwise not cross. And it provides an example of the power of working together across jurisdiction boundaries to achieve a vision that none of us can realize alone.
Interview with Kurt Shwabe, Director of Marketing