Cargill: Time to Sell, Don't Pave the Bay
Since 2007, Agribusiness giant Cargill Inc. and their Arizona-based luxury development partners DMB Associates have sought to develop 1,400 acres of restorable San Francisco Bay salt ponds in Redwood City, CA, creating a new mini-city of thousands of houses on restorable salt ponds below sea level and behind a massive new levee.
The project, which they have called “Saltworks,” would be the largest bayfill development in the past 50 years – paving over critically important habitat for over 20,000 migratory shorebirds and multiple endangered species – and forever destroying the opportunity to restore this site back to much needed tidal marsh.
After a regional outcry and deep local opposition to their project, Cargill/DMB were forced to withdraw their initial proposal. However, rather than recognize that Redwood City has given an emphatic “No” to their irresponsible and inappropriate plan, Cargill/DMB are already talking about bringing back yet another plan to pave over this key piece of the Bay.
Take action and tell Cargill; enough is enough! No more bay-fill! It’s time to sell or donate these ponds so that they can be restored back to wetlands to benefit people and wildlife.
Urban sprawl, bay fill and diking have already reduced the Bay’s size by one-third and destroyed more than 90 percent of the Bay's wetlands. These ponds should be restored to natural habitat to benefit people and wildlife. Redwood City’s salt ponds are the largest piece of shoreline property at risk of development in the entire San Francisco Bay – and a big chunk of the 100,000 acres of tidal marsh that scientists insist San Francisco Bay needs in order to be a thriving estuary.
Cargill began their development attempts by announcing that “salt harvesting is no longer economically viable in Redwood City.” Rather than continue spending tens of millions of dollars trying to push through a plan to pave over the salt ponds – which have never been permitted for housing – tell Cargill that they should instead sell or donate these ponds to help restore San Francisco Bay.
On behalf of generations of Bay Area residents who have fought to protect San Francisco Bay, I demand that you immediately halt plans to develop over 1,400 acres of restorable Bay wetlands in Redwood City, California.
Former Bay wetlands are no place to build a massive development. Instead this property must be sold or transferred to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to be included in the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge and restored. Restoring these salt ponds is necessary to provide critical habitat for endangered species, improve water quality and flood protection, combat global warming and enhance recreation and open space for the region’s residents.
Over the past several years, Cargill and its luxury home developer partner have waged an expensive campaign to sell the public on a Bay fill project that would destroy these restorable wetlands. After a regional outcry and deep local opposition to your plans, you have been forced to withdraw your original proposal. Yet rather than recognize that Redwood City has given an emphatic “No” to your irresponsible and inappropriate plan to pave over this key piece of the Bay, your development partners are already talking about bringing back yet another plan to develop the salt ponds.
Rather than continue spending tens of millions of dollars trying to push through a plan to pave over the salt ponds – which have never been permitted for housing – you should instead sell or transfer these ponds for the benefit of people and wildlife.
Salt ponds nearly identical to yours in Redwood City – in Napa, Newark and Hayward – already have been restored to tidal marsh or are in the planning stages. Cargill offered to sell these very Redwood City ponds to the Fish and Wildlife Service for restoration in 2001.
Urban sprawl, massive fill and diking have already reduced the Bay’s size by one-third. The Redwood City salt ponds should be restored as part of regional efforts to re-establish 100,000 acres of healthy tidal wetlands ringing the shoreline, as recommended by the science-based blueprint for the Bay.
Now that you are finished producing salt in Redwood City, you should ensure that Cargill’s lasting legacy is one of restoring the Bay, not filling it.
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