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US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes

DON EDWARDS S.F. BAY NWR: Chinese Conservation Officials Visit Bay Area Refuge

Region 8, September 25, 2012
Chinese delegation members and refuge staff at the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge
Chinese delegation members and refuge staff at the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge - Photo Credit: n/a

By Doug Cordell

Continuing a historic 26-year exchange program, a delegation of conservation officials from the People’s Republic of China visited the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge in September, 2012, for several days of on-site training and tours of wetland restoration projects. The eight-member Chinese delegation included officials from five different provinces and six different conservation agencies.

The centerpiece of the visit was a delegation tour of the South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project, the largest tidal wetland restoration effort on the west coast of the United States. The tour featured full tidal restoration projects at former commercial salt ponds around the southern end of San Francisco Bay, as well as highly managed ponds that utilize water control structures, fish screens and engineered landscapes of man-made islands, ponds and dry pan. The tour offered delegates a chance to see restoration projects in various stages of completion, from initial construction to fully restored, thriving wetlands.

A key component of the visit was the sharing of technical know-how. Delegates learned from refuge managers and biologists about cutting-edge wetland restoration technology employed in the project, as well as thorny scientific questions project managers hope to answer in the next several years.

While at the Don Edwards refuge, the Chinese delegation was also treated to two days of presentations and onsite training by wetlands program officers from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Bay Area office. Of particular note were demonstrations of soil-sampling techniques on a nearby refuge wetland.

In the second week of their visit, the delegation travelled to Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge and the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex for further tours and training.

The delegation’s two-week visit took place under the auspices of an exchange program set up in 1986 between the U.S. Department of the Interior and the State Forestry Administration of the People’s Republic of China. Dubbed “Annex 11,” the program offers conservation professionals in China and the United States a chance to share information and learn about projects on the ground. Under the program, U.S. delegations visit China on alternate years.

Contact Info: Doug Cordell, 510-774-4080, doug_cordell@fws.gov