A greener Bay could run up a hefty bill

Restoring 36,000 acres of shoreline property in the Bay Area can be achieved in the next 50 years, but it will take a parcel tax or bond for the $1.43 billion needed to pay for the massive project, an environmental group said in a report released Tuesday.

Save the Bay, a nonprofit based in Oakland, outlined how shoreline property from Vallejo to San Jose that has already been secured could be restored, but it will take a mighty effort from all nine Bay Area counties. The ambitious project could double the current amount of marshland in the region.

Save the Bay Executive Director David Lewis said there’s a great amount of support for the project, but that a tax or bond is necessary. State and federal agencies have already spent $370 million during the last decade purchasing the land that Save the Bay is trying to restore.

“The polling that we did shows that people actually care a lot about this and understand that it is beneficial and want to see it happen,” Lewis said.

Save they Bay has recommended forming a new special district that would include most of the Bay Area and would oversee the wetland restoration funding.

The district would be able to propose taxes to state and federal governments.

The actual restoration would mostly involve putting holes in dykes to allow tides to flow through the appropriate areas.

Results would be visible within a few years.

The funding whould support restoration through the next 50 years. Much of the cost would be spent on several reports, permits and other forms necessary for the project, Lewis said.

“It is one of the largest restoration projects ever attempted — certainly the largest on the West Coast,” he said.

Just 5 percent of the Bay’s original marshland remains; the restoration project would double that. Most of the Bay’s old wetlands were drained and buildings were erected in their place.

mrosenberg@examiner.com

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