Equity Statement Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Aug. 27, 2020

Highlighting the historic disservice often done to Indigenous communities, and the frequent inequality in land use application in the establishment of public parks in San Diego, the ReWild Mission Bay Coalition has signed off on a new organizational equity statement intended to recognize the Indigenous history of northeast Mission Bay, and the need for a greater use of space within a revitalized Mission Bay Park for Kumeyaay communities to partner with agencies, practice stewardship, and reconnect with the bay and its natural environs in tandem with ReWild’s “Wildest” wetland restoration proposal.

“These are issues that are important to San Diegans from all communities,” said Andrew Meyer, conservation chair of San Diego Audubon and the ReWild Mission Bay campaign director. “ReWild offers a chance for our communities, especially our Indigenous communities, to reconnect with the natural world. An accessible, inspirational, and environmentally restored northeast corner of Mission Bay Park is our goal.”

The ReWild Coalition equity statement notes that inequality in public land use in the region has a lengthy history, but that awareness of this history and the problems that resulted from it continues to grow. “This statement offers a small opportunity to provide greater awareness of land use injustice,” said Tommy Hough, ReWild Mission Bay campaign coordinator. “Our coalition is advocating for improved access to a more welcoming Mission Bay Park for Indigenous communities and San Diegans of color who have historically faced societal barriers and have been denied cultural access to parks and open space.”

While Mission Bay Park is managed by the city, the state of California’s public trust doctrine requires a diversity of uses in Mission Bay. In conjunction with the San Diego Water Board’s review of a city Supplemental Environmental Project (SEP) proposal to create a new planning alternative that prioritizes water quality improvements and sea level rise resilience through expanded wetland restoration, the Wildest proposal offers an opportunity for the city to improve carbon sequestration, water quality, resilience to sea level rise, and add needed wildlife habitat in the northeast corner of Mission Bay in conjunction with improved cultural access opportunities.

The city’s SEP proposal uses funds from a water quality violation penalty from an earlier sewage spill into Tecolote Creek that affected and contaminated a portion of Mission Bay.

The Wildest proposal demonstrates the abundant potential for feasible wetland restoration in northeast Mission Bay, and if approved by the water board, the SEP likely enables consideration of a Wildest-like wetland restoration proposal at the same level of attention as the city’s own plan, thereby giving elected officials and the public greater information on wetland restoration in northeast Mission Bay, along with a clearer, more defined choice about the future of our public park.

Manuel Belmonte, a researcher at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography and program coordinator with ReWild coalition member Latino Outdoors, says the natural marshlands that would be expanded as part of the Wildest plan are critical to connecting San Diego with its natural habitat. “The Wildest option enables investment in a natural buffer against climate change, and offers greater protection for endangered species in the northeast corner of the bay,” he said. “It’s also an investment in future generations of San Diegans who live near and visit Mission Bay. They similarly deserve the right to enjoy the natural landscape and wildlife that Mission Bay has to offer.”

Rebekah Loveless, archaeological principal at Loveless Linton and a co-founder of the Kumeyaay advocacy organization and ReWild Coalition member Renascence, agrees. “Renascence is proud to be a part of the ReWild Coalition,” she said. “As a Native American and woman-directed non-profit, we seek to be a part of inclusive groups of extraordinary people that work to make positive impacts. This group exceeds our expectations.”

The ReWild Mission Bay Coalition includes AFT Guild Local 1931; Aqua Adventures; Audubon California; California Native Plant Society (CNPS) San Diego Chapter; Citizens Coordinate for Century III (C3); Climate Action Campaign (CAC); Community Congregational Church of Pacific Beach; Endangered Habitats League (EHL); Environmental Center of San Diego; Environmental Health Coalition (EHC); Friends of Famosa Slough; Friends of Mission Bay Marshes; Friends of Rose Canyon; Friends of Rose Creek; Islamic Center of San Diego (ICSD); Latino Outdoors; McCullough Landscape Architects; Mission Bay Fly Fishing Company; Montgomery-Gibbs Environmental Coalition (MGEC); Outdoor Outreach; Renascence; Rose Creek Watershed Alliance; St. Andrew’s by-the-Sea Episcopal Church; San Diego 350; San Diego Audubon Society (SDAS); San Diego Canyonlands; San Diego City College Audubon Club; San Diego Children and Nature; San Diego Coastkeeper; San Diego County Democrats for Environmental Action (SDCDEA); San Diego Democrats for Equality; San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy; San Diego EarthWorks; Save Everyone’s Access (SEA); Sierra Club San Diego; Society for the Advancement of Chicanos, Hispanics, and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) San Diego City College Chapter; Southwest Wetlands Interpretive Association (SWIA); Stay Cool for Grandkids; Surfrider Foundation San Diego; Sustainability Matters; Unite Here! Local 30; WildCoast.

Budget request letters of support include Beautiful P.B.; Clairemont Town Council; Kumeyaay Preservation Heritage Committee; Pacific Beach Christian Church Disciples of Christ; San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council Environmental Caucus.

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ReWild Mission Bay is a project of the San Diego Audubon Society and our ReWild Coalition partners to enhance and restore wetlands in the northeast corner of Mission Bay to create new opportunities for wildlife to thrive, and for San Diegans to enjoy nature in our collective backyard.