Bay is the largest estuary on the nation’s west coast, an island of nature in a sea of humanity. About 85 percent of the tidal marshes that once surrounded the Bay were displaced by development, agriculture, and salt production. Yet, the Bay still supports, and is essential to, commercial fisheries, migratory birds, and species unique to the Bay area, including the
California clapper rail and salt marsh harvest mouse.
In 1994, Cargill Salt, Inc sold about 10,000 acres of salt evaporator ponds, marshes, and sloughs in the North Bay to the State of
California. In 2003, California and the Federal government, with additional funds from private foundations, acquired an additional 15,000 acres of salt ponds in the
Bay from Cargill.
Public agencies and a host of organizations are developing and implementing a series of ecosystem restoration projects for the salt ponds/wetlands. Other goals include providing for flood management, public access, and recreation. Recycled water will be used to reduce salinity in some ponds in the
Examples of Key Partners
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, NOAA Fisheries, EPA, U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, California Department of Fish and Game, California State Coastal Conservancy, Santa Clara Valley Water District, Alameda County Flood Control District, Sonoma County Water Agency, Cargill, Inc., Foundations including Hewlett, Packard, Moore, and Goldmand Fund, City of San Jose, Save San Francisco Bay Association, Ducks Unlimited, The Bay Institute, San Francscio Bay Joint Venture, Audubon Society, San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission, and others.
Results and Accomplishments
• Acquired 15,000 acres of land for wetland restoration, flood management, and public access projects in the South Bay, and 10,000 acres of land for wetland restoration, recycled water reuse, and public access improvements in the North Bay.
• Completed a feasibility study for restoring 10,000 acres of North Bay salt ponds to tidal habitat along the Napa River, and to manage water depths and salinity in the remaining ponds.
• Scheduled the first restoration phase: The State will begin work on 3,000 acres of tidal lands and 1,400 acres of managed ponds in 2005. In phase 2, the Corps will restore 2,000 acres of managed ponds and construct a recycled water pipeline to help reduce salinity, once authorized by Congress.
• Working on a wetland restoration project that includes flood management for Silicon Valley and public access, scheduled to begin in 2008.