Sonoma Creek restoration

UN Environmental Program Recognizes Audubon Sonoma Creek Enhancement as Climate Change Adaptation Model

Innovative restoration project protects against sea-level rise, controls mosquitos


(Oakland, Calif., Nov. 30, 2022)—The United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) has recognized Audubon California’s Sonoma Creek Enhancement Project as part of its North American Restoration Road Trip, part of “a global rallying cry to heal our planet by preventing, halting, and reversing the degradation of ecosystems worldwide.” The UNEP estimates that restoring 350 million hectares of degraded terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems by 2030 could remove 13-26 gigatons of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, as well as generate some nine trillion dollars for local economies around the world. The Sonoma Creek Enhancement Project was a joint effort of Audubon California, San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge and the Marin/Sonoma Mosquito and Vector Control District.

“In the scant two years since the Sonoma Creek Enhancement Project was completed, it has already helped turn a highly degraded legacy of gold rush placer mining into an example of how to protect both wildlife and urban communities against climate change,” said Andrea Jones, director of bird conservation for Audubon California. “Tides now freely flush out standing water, reducing breeding opportunities for mosquitos. Native vegetation is returning, and wildlife can now seek refuge from high tide events on berms and other high ground created by the project. We’re gratified that the UN chose to recognize Sonoma Creek and we hope that it serves as an example of how restoration projects can simultaneously protect our communities and enhance wildlife habitat.”

The Sonoma Creek project is the first project of its kind on an existing marsh and serves as a national example of how to restore habitat and build climate resiliency. Before the first phase of the project, completed in 2015, bay water was able to wash in during high tide, but with no way for it to drain, stagnant pools became a perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes and an imperfect breeding ground for plant life and other animals. Channels dug during the projects two phases now allow pools to replenish and drain, reducing the threat of mosquito-borne diseases to nearby residents and allowing marsh vegetation to regrow in degraded areas. Dredged material was used to gently grade surrounding areas, providing protection against climate-driven, storm surge flooding and provide a high-tide refuge for wildlife.

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Jason Howe,; 415-595-9245

About Audubon
The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow. Audubon works throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education, and on-the-ground conservation. State programs, nature centers, chapters, and partners give Audubon an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire, and unite diverse communities in conservation action. A nonprofit conservation organization since 1905, Audubon believes in a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Learn more at and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @audubonsociety.

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