By Tommy Hough
We have an opportunity to remake, revitalize and ReWild Mission Bay into a world-class recreation destination, with cleaner water, greater access to the shoreline, more habitat for native plants and animals, and climate resiliency for the next 80 years so the bay and the park are in the strongest position possible to withstand the rising sea levels we know are coming.
These are already critical concerns our city must face, but at Mission Bay Park, we can also make the northeast corner of Mission Bay an ecological, recreational and educational showpiece, with a major collegiate facility potentially anchoring an interpretive or wetland study facility. I would love to see, at Mission Bay, something similar to what San Diego County has at San Elijo Lagoon, or similar to the Chula Vista Nature Center, or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife and California State Parks facilities at the Tijuana Slough.
These opportunities don't come along very often, but there is also an urgency attached to this.
When I mention I support the ReWild Mission Bay proposal, people often joke and say, "Well, climate change is going to ReWild Mission Bay anyway." And they're right.
So let's get it right. Let's make sure our shorelines are less hardened, and let's make sure we have the volume of wetlands we need in the northeast corner of Mission Bay to filter the water which will continue to flow into the bay from Rose Creek, and let's ensure that we have the wetland for habitat for endangered plants, birds and animals that rely on that tenuous space between the sea and land to survive.
Let's ensure that habitat is enhanced for those natural neighbors of ours who are reliant upon our good decisions, before the water meets asphalt and concrete, and it slips beneath the waterline forever.
And let's take advantage of this opportunity to clean the water in Mission Bay, especially in the northeast corner where it is the warmest, the most brackish, and has the least amount of tidal circulation.
With greater wetlands the water will be cleaner throughout Mission Bay. This is the kind of green infrastructure that works for us. If we can do that, expand recreation, protect our environment, and reconnect San Diegans to a special place that they may only know from driving by it at freeway speed, we will have enhanced our park into a civic showpiece on par with Balboa Park.
That, to my mind, is a great opportunity for San Diego, and a tremendous legacy.
A former San Diego broadcaster and media personality, Tommy Hough is a wilderness and conservation advocate, communications professional, California Democratic Party delegate, and the co-founder and former president of San Diego County Democrats for Environmental Action.