San Francisco-- Conservation groups came together today to celebrate the completion of the 400-acre Sonoma Creek Enhancement Project, a restoration project funded with $1 million from U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and additional funds from California Wildlife Conservation Board and other funders. This restoration created a large tidal channels within the marsh to drastically improve tidal exchange and nutrient cycling and provide habitat to a myriad of marsh-dependent wildlife species.
“This project will turn what was a dysfunctional marsh into a healthy habitat for marsh-dependent species, including Ridgway’s Rail and the Salt Marsh Harvest Mouse,” said Brigid McCormack, executive director of Audubon California. “It is also going to provide San Francisco Bay with more protection from sea-level rise due to climate change.”
The Sonoma Creek Enhancement Project is located within San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge and is part of the globally significant San Pablo Bay Wetlands Important Bird Area identified by National Audubon Society. Before the Gold Rush, the Refuge was one of the largest wetland complexes in the Pacific Flyway. Millions of shorebirds visited the wetlands during spring and fall migration. The Sonoma Creek Enhancement Project will be part of a larger conservation vision and has the potential to set precedence for a tidal marsh enhancement project of up to 2,500 acres of tidal marsh in San Pablo Bay.
This project is proceeded by a similar but smaller project on the Refuge that these same partners completed on Tubbs Island in 2010, where the removal of several artificial levies restored natural tidal flows to the island’s marsh, making it possible for several species of birds to begin using the area for habitat.
Audubon California partnered on the project with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Marin-Sonoma Mosquito and Vector Control District. Consultants for this project were Wetlands and Water Resources, Inc. and ESA Associates. Construction was carried out by Hanford ARC.
About Audubon California
Audubon California is building a better future for California by bringing people together to appreciate, enjoy and protect our spectacular outdoor treasures. With more than 150,000 supporters in California and an affiliated 48 local Audubon chapters, Audubon California is a field program of the National Audubon Society.
More information is available at www.ca.audubon.org.