In a recent "Platform" commentary, William Claycomb expressed his opinion that it would be a mistake for the San Diego Unified Port District to expand opportunities for recreational boating on San Diego Bay. The stated basis for his position is his perception that increases in recreational boating would wreak environmental havoc on our bay. He even goes so far as to state that an increase in non-motorized craft such as kayaks and canoes, ". . . could turn San Diego Bay into a Mission Bay South and harm the already dwindling supply of plant and animal life."
This is environmental extremism, pure and simple.
I find it interesting that Mr. Claycomb would invoke Mission Bay as an example of poor environmental planning. It is widely believed by those familiar with such issues that Mission Bay could not possibly have been created under today's environmental regulations due to the amount of dredging and construction of recreational facilities required. Yet today, Mission Bay is a wonderful recreational and environmental resource serving millions of people each year while maintaining habitat for a myriad of other species.
Mission Bay includes seven sanctuaries for the endangered California least turn, and is considered to be among the top five reproductive habitats statewide. Eel grass, which is indigenous to the area, is carefully monitored and preserved. The northern wildlife preserve near Crown Point, which is considered one of the most productive salt marsh habitats in California, provides sanctuary for many species of birds and wildlife, and supports at least two endangered species, the light-footed clapper rail, and the Belding's savannah sparrow. During annual migrations in the fall, winter and spring, a wide variety of migratory waterfowl can be spotted throughout Mission Bay. People, too, are able to thoroughly enjoy this fantastic resource.
Little wonder that many of us in the South Bay are frustrated. Because, although we live right next door to a natural resource similar to Mission Bay, ours lacks the accessibility, the recreational facilities and the services available at Mission Bay. So, more often than not, we have to pack up our families and trailer our boats north past San Diego Bay to Mission Bay, which is now bursting at the seams on summer weekends.
I believe the Unified Port District has a historic opportunity awaiting. They control a resource which, with careful planning, could greatly increase recreational opportunities for all county residents while preserving our environmental heritage for us, our grandchildren and their grandchildren. Furthermore, in a time of tight budgets, the Port District has the financial resources to accomplish these aims. The Board of Supervisors and the city of San Diego concur, and have encouraged the Port District to increase recreational opportunities in a manner sensitive to the unique environment of the area.
The children of the South Bay, and we, their parents, deserve the same opportunities as those fortunate county residents dwelling to the north. We deserve the same opportunities, along with bird-watching, to learn to sail, to row, to paddle and yes, to water ski, from high quality accessible recreational facilities on the bay. We also deserve the opportunity to interact with our aquatic environment and thereby to learn to teach our children a respect for our natural aquatic resources.
Ensuring a healthy future for San Diego Bay demands enlightened policy decisions that will preserve this wondrous resource for use by many generations of all the members of our ecosystems, plant animal and human.
BRIAN P. BILBRAY, Vice-Chairman, San Diego County Board of Supervisors