South Bay, 1999

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The South Bay today is mostly a patchwork of rancid salt ponds. Ninety-five percent of the wetlands have been gouged out of one of the most pristine areas in the world to ensure we have enough salt to dump on our pork chops.

In the late 1950's two salt ponds were scraped out of Station Island itself. This really screwed things up for the inhabitants as it prevented the daily tides from cleansing the sloughs and inlets.

"It also covered up Washington Cutoff Slough that flowed from Mud Slough to Coyote Slough - access by boat became limited." O.L. "Montey" Dewey

It is always amusing to hear a Cargill Salt spokesperson explain how salt evaporation ponds are better for wildlife than wetlands. It is my understanding that salt causes heart attacks. I suspect that is why there are so few ducks now.

Note the dotted line running smack dab down the middle of Coyote Creek Slough. That is the county line between Alameda county to the north and Santa Clara county to the south. This seemingly insignificant fact was to contribute greatly to Drawbridge's unseemly reputation as a refuge for scoundrels and prostitutes. It seems that Santa Clara law enforcement would not cross the county line at Coyote Creek, and Alameda (Fremont) officials were hesitant at going across Mud Slough into Drawbridge because of its isolation, reputation (deserved or not), and the fact that virtually everyone was armed. It must have been horrible for people living in Fremont and San Jose to imagine all the fun those Drawbridgians were having.

Today, a beatific, nine-mile, trail for hiking or biking starts at the Alviso Marina and circles around the salt ponds - probably the best kept nature secret in California. It is astonishing how few people enjoy this resource - probably a good thing. Watch out for snakes and dive-bombing Avocets. And take water, nine miles is longer than you might think. I found this out the hard way, almost perishing five miles out on a run/walk. Fortunately, my Junior Woodchuck training instinctively kicked in, and I made it back to Alviso.



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