On Saturday, Jan. 21st, a crowd gathered at Kendall Frost Marsh to witness one of our region’s remarkable King Tide events, a seasonal occurrence predicted years in advance. And while the tide came in right on schedule, the stark image of the marsh disappearing beneath the waterline demanded the attention of every attendee.
“King Tides” is a term used to describe the highest tides of the year that occur when the sun, moon and Earth align to create these unique conditions. On Jan. 21st, a 7.13 foot tide pushed all of the wetlands’ inhabitants closer to shore, giving the San Diego Audubon staff, UCSD staff and scientists, and attendees a rare chance to survey some of the endangered species that call the marsh home. A group of birders also gathered around the coastline to take advantage of the opportunity to view the huddles of shorebirds.
Speakers at the event discussed the effects these tides will have in the future on coastal communities as sea levels continue to rise due to the impacts of climate change. Councilmember Joe LaCava emphasized the need for projects like the ReWild Mission Bay campaign as the types of investments needed to explore protection of San Diego coastlines and infrastructure.
Activities at the event included a King Tide photo station, a demonstration on carbon sequestration in the bay and a guided bird tour, and we welcomed special guests Maya Vicaldo, Little Miss Kumeyaay Nation; and Priscilla Ortiz, Miss Kumeyaay Nation, as both shared the significance of their communities remaining connected to these coastal areas, as previous generations of Kumeyaay have for centuries.
As the tide began to recede, the marsh suddenly emerged once again, reminding us of what could be lost. If implemented by the city, the “Wildest” alternative proposed by the ReWild Mission Bay effort will protect the marsh and lend considerable resilience to sea level rise by restoring 227 acres of wetlands.
The city’s Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) for its wetland restoration proposal is due for release in the next few weeks, and we expect it to address the impacts of climate change and how proposals like ReWild can defend our coastal communities with green infrastructure and progressive environmental planning.
For more on how to get involved please visit the ReWild Mission Bay or San Diego Audubon websites. With the enthusiastic help of community partners, volunteers, neighbors and residents we can protect the marsh today, and continue to do so into the future.
Photos by Tommy Hough