Carin High and Jana Sokale have been at the forefront of a decades-long battle over the fate of Newark’s Area 4, the contentious site of a housing development proposed to be built on the southern Alameda shoreline. Environmental battles aren’t new to High and Sokale—both leaders have been involved with numerous wins over the past 30 years as part of their work with the Citizens Committee to Complete the Refuge (CCCR).
Founded in 1965, CCCR spearheaded efforts to create the first urban national wildlife refuge in the United States, the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Since that time, CCCR has worked to expand and protect the Refuge along with San Francisco Bay’s broader natural ecosystems, protecting vital habitat for wildlife, along with promoting opportunities for Newark and Bay Area residents to experience a connection to the Bay.
High and Sokale have been long-time partners of Greenbelt Alliance, most recently in the battle over Area 4, which centers on Newark’s plans to develop nearly 500 single-family homes atop Newark’s historic baylands, directly adjacent to the San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Newark Area 4 is a site with wetlands and considerable wetland restoration potential, located in a FEMA 100-year flood zone that is projected to be completely inundated by sea level rise within 70 years.
Sokale has been vocal in advocating that policy makers account for sea level rise, saying “We can’t keep doing what we’ve been doing, and Earth is telling us that every year in big ways—and we just are not listening. Laws and regulations around the bay and within California are inadequate to protect these lands in the face of climate change; the laws have not grasped what is ahead for us” (KQED).
CCCR, Greenbelt Alliance, and over a dozen environmental, climate, and community partners have advocated for the permanent conservation of Newark Area 4 and adding the lands to the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge through a campaign called, “Save Newark Wetlands.”