Cargill’s sea salt works in the San Francisco Bay Area is one of only two sea salt works in the entire United States. It is an ideal area for salt making, thanks to clay soils and a Mediterranean climate – just enough rain in the fall, winter and spring, followed by dry summers with steady breezes and plenty of summer sunshine.
Cargill’s land value donations of US $150 million have enabled public wildlife agencies to acquire more than 40,000 acres of San Francisco Bay salt pond properties and launch an environmental renaissance.
Landmark activities and outcomes from this Cargill effort.
- Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge. A century of sustainable land use led to creation of the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge on 15,000 acres of salt ponds in 1979. This private-public partnership has expanded over the years and continues to protect wildlife habitat for four endangered species and more than one million shorebirds and waterfowl.
- Napa-Sonoma Marshes Wildlife Area. In 1994, Cargill’s donation and sale of 10,000 acres of salt ponds in Napa created the Napa-Sonoma Marshes Wildlife Area, operated by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. In 2003, 1,400 acres were added to this state wildlife preserve, and opened to tidal action in 2010.
- South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project. State and federal wildlife agencies acquired 16,500 acres of salt pond properties in 2003, aided by donations from four private foundations and Cargill’s donation of $100 million in land value. This acquisition launched the South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project, the largest wetland restoration project on the West Coast.
- Bay Trail connection. Cargill’s donation of 16 acres near Moffet Field in Mountain View provided a critical link to the San Francisco Bay Trail in an area where cyclists, walkers and joggers have been clamoring for trail access to the Bay. The new link opens a 2.4-mile section of trail, connects two longer trail segments and gives cyclists and hikers a 25-mile continuous bayside route, stretching from Alviso to Menlo Park.
- SF2 Salt pond habitat project. Wildlife managers have used federal economic recovery grants to engineer and test new models of habitat creation at SF2, a former salt pond. Half of the pond is devoted to small island sanctuaries, mounded out of the native muds and surrounded by tidal water. The remainder was drained, and with Cargill’s help and volunteer labor, covered in part with oyster shells to camouflage nests of the snowy plover, a small shorebird bird, protected under the Endangered Species Act.
- Local governments and non-profits have acquired a total of 3,000 acres through Cargill land grants and sales to improve open space, recreation, and environmental education throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.