Photos: Exclusive drone views of San Francisco Bay’s colorful salt ponds

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Photos: Exclusive drone views of San Francisco Bay's colorful salt ponds

Flying in or out of the Bay Area, you may have noticed San Francisco Bay’s colorful salt ponds from above.

Otherwise, many of the ponds, which cover approximately 16,500 acres of the bay and have been used as salt evaporation ponds since the California Gold Rush era, remain a hidden secret.

Most of the ponds were once wetlands in Newark, Hayward and Redwood City. Some are no longer in use, but Cargill Salt continues its operations in Newark. The salt the company produces is used to manufacture glass, paper, plastic, rubber, textiles, dyes, leather, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. The Cargill plant is capable of crystallizing 500,000 tons of sea salt each year.

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After nearly a century of commercial land use, 15,000 acres of salt ponds were set aside in 1979 to create the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

State and federal wildlife agencies also acquired 15,100 acres of South Bay salt pond properties in San Jose’s Alviso district, Union City and Menlo Park in 2003, launching the South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project, the largest wetland restoration project on the West Coast, which will be a 50-year effort.

Last April, in what environmental groups are hailing as a “complete victory,” Cargill Salt announced that it will not appeal a decision by a federal judge that protects Redwood City’s salt ponds from development, effectively halting its decades-long effort to build thousands of new homes there. The project would have been the largest development on the bayfront since Foster City was built in the 1960s.

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Staff writer Aldo Toledo contributed to this report.

Photos: Exclusive Drone Views Of San Francisco Bay'S Colorful Salt Ponds
The Cargill Salt Ponds And Production Facility Are Seen From This Drone View In Newark, Calif. (Photo: Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group)
Photos: Exclusive Drone Views Of San Francisco Bay'S Colorful Salt Ponds
Salt Ponds And A Levee Are Seen From This Drone View In Newark, Calif. (Photo: Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group)
Photos: Exclusive Drone Views Of San Francisco Bay'S Colorful Salt Ponds
The Cargill Salt Ponds Are Seen From This Drone View In Newark, Calif. (Photo: Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group)
Photos: Exclusive Drone Views Of San Francisco Bay'S Colorful Salt Ponds
San Jose, California- January 27: Wetlands Are Seen From This Drone View In The Alviso District Of San Jose, Calif., On Thursday, Jan. 27, 2022. (Photo: Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group)
Photos: Exclusive Drone Views Of San Francisco Bay'S Colorful Salt Ponds
The Cargill Salt Ponds Are Seen From This Drone View In Newark, Calif. (Photo: Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group)
Photos: Exclusive Drone Views Of San Francisco Bay'S Colorful Salt Ponds
Defunct Salt Ponds Turned Back To Wetlands Are Seen From This Drone View In Newark, Calif. (Photo: Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group)
Photos: Exclusive Drone Views Of San Francisco Bay'S Colorful Salt Ponds
Salt Ponds And A Levee Are Seen From This Drone View In Newark, Calif. (Photo: Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group)
Photos: Exclusive Drone Views Of San Francisco Bay'S Colorful Salt Ponds
Defunct Salt Ponds Now Turned Into Wetlands Are Seen From This Drone View In Newark, Calif. (Photo: Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group)
Photos: Exclusive Drone Views Of San Francisco Bay'S Colorful Salt Ponds
The Cargill Salt Ponds And A Railroad Track Are Seen From This Drone View In Newark, Calif. (Photo: Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group)
Photos: Exclusive Drone Views Of San Francisco Bay'S Colorful Salt Ponds
Newark, California-January 26: Salt Ponds Are Seen From This Drone View In Newark, Calif., On Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2022. (Photo: Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group)
Photos: Exclusive Drone Views Of San Francisco Bay'S Colorful Salt Ponds
Newark, California-January 27: Defunct Salt Ponds Are Seen From This Drone View In Newark, Calif., On Thursday, Jan. 27, 2022. (Photo: Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group)
Photos: Exclusive Drone Views Of San Francisco Bay'S Colorful Salt Ponds
The Cargill Salt Ponds Are Seen From This Drone View In Newark, Calif. (Photo: Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group)
Photos: Exclusive Drone Views Of San Francisco Bay'S Colorful Salt Ponds
Redwood City, California- January 27: Defunct Salt Ponds Are Seen From This Drone View In Redwood City, Calif., On Thursday, Jan. 27, 2022. (Photo: Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group)
Photos: Exclusive Drone Views Of San Francisco Bay'S Colorful Salt Ponds
Defunct Salt Ponds Now Turned Into Wetlands Are Seen From This Drone View In Newark, Calif. (Photo: Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group)

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