SAN DIEGO — A coalition of environmental groups are lending their support to the Rewild Mission Bay Campaign, which hopes to convince the City of San Diego to prioritize restoring and expanding wetlands on De Anza Cove as it moves forward with redeveloping the northeastern portion of Mission Bay.

“With San Diego seeing a lot of effects from climate change, we really have to focus on green infrastructure,” said Lucero Weber with San Diego Coastkeeper. 

The debate over how to best use and preserve the land has been going on now for several years. The city’s plan, De Anza Natural, envisions a balance of land uses that serves local and regional recreational needs, while also restoring natural habitats and preparing for the impacts of climate change. This group, made up of the Audubon Society, Outdoor Outreach, Coastkeeper and the Sierra Club, applauds the cities plan but says it should expand the wetlands significantly more.

“We feel there needs to be a greater emphasis on maximum wetland restoration,” said Tommy Hough, campaign coordinator for Rewild Mission Bay. “That’s a guarantee to ensure we have the cleanest water possible and it gives us an opportunity to expand the recreation opportunities that we enjoy here in Mission Bay.”

Wetlands are the buffer in between an ocean and the coastal zones. They are uniquely beautiful with different types of flora, fauna and wildlife, but they are also hard-working, combating the effects of climate change.

“Tidal wetland habitats — preliminary data from Mission Bay shows that they are seven times more efficient that forests,” Hough said.

Hough is the campaign coordinator for Rewild Mission Bay, he says the longer it takes to begin restoration, the more risk, San Diego takes of losing major assets like Mission Bay Park to rising sea levels.

“We need to take advantage of the time that we have right now to ensure that we can be prepared for the future,” Hough said. “Having that additional wetland and that restored wetland, we’re going to cleaner water in the bay, better carbon sequestration which is very important right now, greater climate resiliency for when we have storms, for when we have the rising sea levels.”