Baykeeper's Monthly Column

Baykeeper publishes a monthly column on San Francisco Bay cultural, environmental, and maritime issues.
(November 2021) The traditional holiday season of thanks is taking on new flavor as I reflect on what Baykeeper has accomplished over this past year. There’s so much to be grateful for. We made it through the worst of the pandemic, and now we’re stronger and heartier than before. New additions to our staff have enhanced our legal and financial know-how. New Advisory Board members have amplified...
(October 2021) The news this past month has felt like a nightmare I've had before. Toxic oil devastated our beautiful Southern California shorelines, and the headlines were ghosts of the past. There were critical communication gaps between federal and local officials, delays in the initial response, dramatic miscalculations of the spill's magnitude, and a lack of trained volunteers. We seem to...
(September 2021) Because of the drought, Governor Newsom asked Californians to conserve water. Yet, during drought, the state’s almond, walnut, and pistachio orchards suck up more water than all of us combined. It would be laughable, except that I’m crying. These industrial nut farms—more than 2 million acres of them—are getting enough water during the drought to produce a near-record crop,...
(August 2021) One of the themes that runs through the battles Baykeeper fights every day, sadly, is greed. We saw it years ago in the actions of the shipping company that dredged contaminated Bay mud and dumped it illegally at night. They didn't want to pay to do it right (but they eventually paid the price for doing it wrong when we sent the owners to jail). We see it on display today with big...
(July 2021) "If we can’t imagine a better future, we can't create a better future." That's what my friend Khafre Jay, the executive director of Hip Hop for Change, likes to say. When we first met back in 2015, I was inspired by how his organization engaged local youth through music with messages of social justice and positive action for the future.  I invited him and his team to join me on a...
(May 2021) Every year, the Baykeeper team takes a field trip to explore the San Francisco Bay we work to protect. We’ve toured the Bay Model in Sausalito, visited the Fisher Bay Observatory at the Exploratorium, explored the SF shoreline with Kayaks Unlimited, and cruised the Bay with the Marine Science Institute. While we missed bonding this way in 2020 because of the pandemic, the Baykeeper...
(April 2021) This past February, I was in the middle of a Zoom meeting when my cell phone started buzzing. Texts were coming in from Richmond residents alerting us to an oil spill near Chevron’s tanker wharf. I quickly wrapped things up and called our field investigator—and happily discovered he was already on his way, because someone had also notified our hotline. He was first on the scene, and...
(February 2021) As soon as we learned about the Chevron oil spill in Richmond last week, the Baykeeper team leapt into action. Within half an hour of the report, our field investigator launched our drone Osprey into the air, well before many of the response agencies had even arrived to the scene. The rest of our program staff watched the live stream remotely to survey the mess and assess the...
(January 2021) Happy New Year—and happy new beginnings! I know. We’re already four weeks into the new year. And you may be wondering if this note is a little overdue. So, I’ll be honest: I've been delaying sending you my best wishes. The first time I sat down to write you in December, I succumbed to 2020 fatigue. Hope of the vaccine inspired me after the holidays, but California’s pandemic surge...
(December 2020) “Nimble” is a word I use with​ ​pride to describe Baykeeper’s ability to rise to a challenge. And boy, did the world test us in 2020! In response to the global pandemic, our dedicated staff smoothly pivoted to remote work, and we expanded our pollution patrols to include drones. As wildfires ravaged the state, we prioritized initiatives to make the Bay more resilient and took on...

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