Lawmakers aim to update Bay Area refuges

Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont — with the support of Reps. George Miller, D-Martinez, and Sam Farr, D-Santa Cruz — yesterday introduced H.R. 6479, the San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge Complex Establishment Act, which would re-establish the Bay Area’s seven separate national wildlife refuges as a single wildlife complex so it can leverage more federal funding.

The refuges first were tied together into a single complex years ago, but Stark, Miller and Farr now want to replace the old law to address current needs: new land has been acquired, more species are endangered, more urban growth has encroached, and so on. And the new bill also includes language and additional reasons for Congress and the Secretary of the Interior to direct funds toward it.

Said Stark, in his news release: “The Bay Area’s wildlife refuges are an essential part of our community. By uniting these refuges, we strengthen our opportunities for greater federal support. That support is vital if we are to save rare California wildlife from extinction, fight global warming, and preserve a beautiful part of our country that can be enjoyed by future generations.”

Said Miller: “The wetlands and estuaries now under protection are an important part of the health of the Bay-Delta. This new bill will help ensure that these vital areas remain a viable habitat for marine animals, fish and wildlife, and will protect this powerful economic engine for the Bay Area. I’m proud to support the San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Complex Establishment Act.”

Taken together, the Antioch Dunes, Don Edwards San Francisco Bay, Ellicott Slough, Farallon, Marin Islands, Salinas River, and San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuges together constitute the nation’s largest collection of urban wildlife refuges, more than 46,000 acres. They’re home to hundreds of wildlife species — including over 128 threatened or endangered animals and marine mammals that depend on these refuges to survive. And, the Congressmen note, by hosting more than 1.5 million visitors every year, the refuges bring in a lot of money for northern California.

Save the Bay, an environmental group that protects and restores these refuges, endorses the bill.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.