Shorelines & The Bay

Wetlands in Palo AltoWith the State of California encouraging local jurisdictions to plan for 3.5 feet of sea level rise by 2050, and scientists predicting 7-10 feet of sea level rise or higher by 2100, adaptation to sea level rise will require a dramatic re-envisioning of the Bay Area’s relationship to the Bay. Effective solutions will require a regional perspective and an urgent, coordinated response.

Sea level rise endangers the Bay's fragile ecology and threatens critical infrastructure, industry, and housing, with disproportionate impacts on the region’s low-income residents and communities of color. And recent studies confirm that traditional “armored” shorelines such as levees and concrete bulkheads offer less long-term protection than people might think.

So what’s the solution? The Sierra Club, along with a growing consensus of scientists and policy makers, supports “nature-based adaptation” as the best way to achieve ecological resilience and environmental justice for the Bay Area. This approach relies on protecting and restoring healthy, living Bay habitats like wetlands, beaches, and oyster beds. The natural processes that ensue, such as water filtration, carbon sequestration, and sediment accretion, provide benefits to the Bay’s ecology as well as to the human populations that live around the Bay.

Our chapter is partnering with our neighboring Redwood and Loma Prieta chapters on the Bay Alive campaign, working to promote living shorelines, healthy waters, and just, equitable, and economically beneficial solutions to sea level rise in the San Francisco Bay Area. The campaign is a volunteer-driven effort to provide cities, agencies, and the general public with critically needed information on the threats of sea level rise and the importance of using nature-based adaptation strategies.

With assistance from Sierra Club California, representatives from all three Sierra Club chapters collaborate to establish region-wide positions and work with agencies and other entities that operate with a Bay-regional focus. Each chapter also addresses local Bay and shoreline issues in their respective chapter areas.

We’re working on a multitude of issues and projects in our San Francisco Bay Chapter area: fighting against development on the Point Molate shoreline, advocating for wetland conservation in Newark, pushing for community protection against toxic groundwater contaminants in Richmond, to name a few. To learn more about our local work to promote living shorelines and protect the Bay, head to our blog.

To get involved in this work, reach out to Chapter Organizer Dani Zacky.

Learn more about our King Tides Project.


The Bay Alive campaign is funded by a bequest received by the Loma Prieta Chapter from the Rohloff Estate.

Photo credit: Baylands in Palo Alto by Jitze Couperus via Flickr Creative Commons (CC BY 2.0).