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Report: California Wetlands Help Slow Climate Change

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Tuesday, October 26, 2021   

SAN DIEGO -- Ninety percent of California's wetlands are gone, and the movement to restore them has taken on added urgency in light of the climate crisis.

A recent report by the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center encouraged California to restore and expand the natural carbon sinks up and down the coast.

James Holmquist, ecologist at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center and co-author of the report, said it maps out the best places for so-called "blue carbon" mitigation projects.

"They're one of the few ecosystems that can take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and store it long term and lock it away in their soils," Holmquist pointed out.

Holmquist added plants in tidal marshes scrub carbon from the atmosphere and send it to their roots, which later die and add to the soil bed.

ReWild Mission Bay is a blue-carbon restoration project in San Diego that would like to see local marshes restored. The City of San Diego is about to release a new land-use plan, which could require a campground built on marshland decades ago to relocate.

Andrew Meyer, conservation director at the San Diego Audubon Society, said the project would rebuild tidal wetlands that lock away carbon.

"The priority for this space should be the blue carbon benefits we can get from wetland restoration," Meyer asserted. "Our park uses can fit in the banks of a restored, vibrant wetland. This is the best place for wetland restoration in Mission Bay; in all of San Diego."

The Coastal Carbon Network is working on releasing more data on blue carbon from other areas of the state, including Bodega Bay, Bolinas Lagoon, Humboldt Bay, Morro Bay, Newport Bay, Point Mugu, Seal Beach and Tijuana Estuary.

Support for this reporting was provided by The Pew Charitable Trusts.


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