In a major victory, the California Court of Appeal issued a final ruling that state agencies and private companies no longer have a green light to extract massive amounts of sand from the San Francisco Bay floor. Instead, the public's access, use, and enjoyment of this important Bay resource must be considered first.
This ruling can help keep sand in the Bay and prevent erosion of Ocean Beach. Scientific research shows that extracting sand from the Bay makes erosion worse at Ocean Beach, which reduces beach access for surfers, kiteboarders, and beachgoers.
The legal victory also safeguards species impacted by sand mining. Ocean Beach erosion endangers the habitat of the threatened western snowy plover. In addition, the sand mining area includes sensitive rearing and migratory habitat for species that include Dungeness crab and Chinook salmon.
With this court victory, the state is now required to re-evaluate the amount of sand it will allow to be mined from the Bay floor—and prioritize the benefit to the public, instead of the profits of private companies. This ruling also sets a legal precedent that can be used to protect natural resources nationwide.
Baykeeper will monitor to ensure that new sand mining limits are put in place that protect Ocean Beach, wildlife, and San Francisco Bay.
Photo by US Fish and Wildlife Pacific Southwest Region, Flickr/CC