Opened in late 2015, Bair Island is the largest island in the South Bay spanning over 3,000 acres. It’s a complex mosaic of twisted tidal channels, mudflats and salt marsh vegetation. It’s also a hotspot for birds and marine wildlife and, thanks to POST and our community of supporters, it’s all yours to explore.
Endangered Ridgway's rails and salt marsh harvest mice. Also cottontail rabbits, peregrine falcons, pelicans, egrets, terns and stilts. Large rays and small leopard sharks can be seen in the sloughs at the farther reaches of the island.
In the early 20th century, the island was used for ranching cattle, farming and salt production. Levees were built to prevent the flow of tidal waters around the island. At one point, a massive housing development was proposed for the island. Without the support of concerned local citizens, this special habitat could have been lost.
In 1997, POST bought and protected 1,623 acres of Bair Island. Shortly after, we began work with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Ducks Unlimited to restore the island with the goal of removing the levees and returning the landscape to a more natural ecological state. It took some time, and in December of 2015, the final levee was breached and the life-rich waters of the Bay came rushing back to nourish the land and re-shape it over time.
Though portions of the island are owned by the State of California, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has managed the entire area since 1998 as part of the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge. They continue to restore the 1,400 acres of Bair Island to tidal marsh and revitalize it with the help of restoration funds from POST.