U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell Honored as ‘Park Champion’

Event to discuss impacts of sea level rise on the San Francisco Bay took place at Hayward Shoreline

The East Bay Regional Park District will present Rep. Eric Swalwell with the 2016 Congressional Park Champion Award Monday, Sept. 19th in recognition of his tireless efforts to protect parks, shorelines and open space in the East Bay and beyond.

The award, given on behalf of the National Recreation and Park Association, calls out Rep. Swalwell as an avid park and trail user–including hosting numerous “ride with your rep” and “walk and talk” town halls. The award also acknowledges Rep. Swalwell’s commitment to our environment–particularly his work on wetlands restoration, clean air and water, and sustainable energy. As a member of the Science Committee, Rep. Swalwell is also keenly aware of the impact a changing climate is having on our communities, shorelines and environment.

The Park District shares Rep. Swalwell’s commitment to environmental protection, especially regarding the impacts of climate change. For example, as stewards of 55 miles of Bay-Delta shoreline, the Park District provides the first line of defense against sea level rise for millions of people in the East Bay. The District recognizes federal, state, regional and local governments must work together to adapt to a changing environment.

During Monday’s tour, Park District leaders will discuss institutional barriers, such as permitting processes, which can affect mitigation projects along in the Bay-Delta region. As noted in the “Adapting to Rising Tides” report, the Hayward Regional Shoreline is specifically impacted by climate related changes. The shoreline is experiencing levee failure and occasional flooding on the Bay Trail. Rep. Swalwell plans to tour the Hayward Shoreline at Monday’s event, which is co-sponsored by the Hayward Area Recreation and Park District.

With the passage of Measure AA, the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority’s “Clean and Healthy Bay” parcel tax in June, agencies such as the Park District have an opportunity to finance shoreline resiliency projects before serious disasters actually occur. The Park District believes up-front investment in emergency preparedness should follow the same permitting protocols as actual emergencies. As the “Baylands Ecosystem Habitat Goals Science Update” of 2015 points out, at least eight state and federal agencies are likely to have a role in the permitting process of Bay Area wetlands. In addition, shoreline projects may need local authorization from cities or counties, as well as those that cross paths with railroad tracks, pipelines, highways and utilities which require additional permission.

The Park District looks forward to working with Park Champions such as Rep. Eric Swalwell to streamline permitting mechanisms for shoreline projects which protect our communities.

The East Bay Regional Park District is a system of beautiful public parks and trails in Alameda and Contra Costa counties east of San Francisco Bay, established in 1934. The system comprises 120,000 acres in 65 parks including over 1,250 miles of trails for hiking, biking, horseback riding and nature learning. For information, please contact Carolyn Jones, Public Information Supervisor, (510) 544-2217, [email protected]

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