11/2/10: Major Wetland Restoration Project Completed

Major Wetland Restoration Project Completed

Novato, CA, November 2, 2010 -- The Bay Institute’s Bay Restoration program welcomed another step forward towards restoring San Francisco Bay on August 25th, when a bright yellow backhoe scooped the last bite out of an earthen levee that had been built to drain a 1,400-acre tidal marsh in the Napa River estuary. The cycle of tides that had been blocked by the levee a century ago recommenced its twice daily pulsing across the barren landscape.

In the short two months since the levee breach occurred, birds, fish and invertebrates have flown, swum and wriggled into the revitalized tidal wetland by the thousands. The tides also bring in the seeds of marsh vegetation that will take root gradually over the coming years. It is likely that this site will develop quickly into a richly vegetated marsh with a complex channel network due to its location along the high-energy Napa River slough.

Since the late 1950s, this drained tidal marsh was part of a 10,500-acre solar salt manufacturing complex. Most of the complex was purchased from the Cargill Company in 1994 by the California Department of Fish and Game. These last 1,400 acres were acquired in 2003 in a deal that also saw Cargill sell 15,000 acres of its salt pond holdings in southern San Francisco Bay.

All of these acquisitions are part of a public effort, in which The Bay Institute has played a vital role, to restore more than 100,000 of wetlands that were drained and destroyed over the past 150 years. It is the largest project to restore coastal wetlands underway in the nation. Ecological restoration of these wetlands is expected to help revitalize declining fish and wildlife populations and to promote recovery of endangered species that live exclusively in San Francisco Bay marshes. Those species include the California clapper rail, a wetland bird about the size of a chicken whose population crashed as a result of the destruction of Bay tidal marshes.

About The Bay Institute
The Bay Institute is the leader in protecting, restoring and inspiring conservation of San Francisco Bay and its watershed — from the Sierra to the sea. For nearly 30 years, The Bay Institute has been developing and leading model scientific research, habitat restoration, education and advocacy programs to preserve California's most important natural resource.