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SACRAMENTO FWO: Service Contributes to Marin County’s Long-Running Bahia Restoration Project
California-Nevada Offices , December 16, 2008
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Photo by Don Freundt After the first levee breech, Petaluma River waters flood the Bahia wetlands. (photo: Don Freundt, Marin Audubon Society)
Photo by Don Freundt After the first levee breech, Petaluma River waters flood the Bahia wetlands. (photo: Don Freundt, Marin Audubon Society) - Photo Credit: n/a
The clapper rail is one of more than 100 species benefiting from the Bahia Restoration Project. (photo: Don Freundt, Marin Audubon Society)
The clapper rail is one of more than 100 species benefiting from the Bahia Restoration Project. (photo: Don Freundt, Marin Audubon Society) - Photo Credit: n/a

 by Steve Martarano, Sacramento FWO

The Sacramento Fish & Wildlife Office (SFWO) contributed both staff and grant funding to the heralded Bahia Restoration Project. In August 2005, SFWO provided a $100,000 grant to the Marin Audubon Society to help restore 375 acres of wetlands in the Bahia area near Novato in Marin County. The monies came from the Private Stewardship Grant Program to go toward restoration of tidal wetlands on a 29-acre piece of the overall project site, and that funding is paying off now.

 

In October, to much fanfare, the first of several levee breeches occurred at the site, allowing the Petaluma River to wash over the bone-dry land, beginning the process of turning almost 300 acres into rich marshland. The breeches ended 25 years of rancor within the community regarding what to do with the valuable lands. The $20 million restoration project (that figure includes the land’s purchase price), once it is complete, will again provide habitat for well over 100 species of birds, such as the clapper rail and San Pablo song sparrow. Those include 10 bird species holding a special-status designation. The land is owned by the California Department of Fish and Game.

 

“This was a fantastic effort by state, local and federal agencies, such as the Fish & Wildlife Service,” said Barbara Salzman, the Marin Audubon president and considered by many as the main force behind the effort. “The grant provided by the Service allowed us to do all of the major excavation work on the levees.”

 

With construction now complete, Salzman said volunteers and other workers have begun work to eventually plant 25 acres of native Leymus grasslands, one of the few native grasses that has done well in the Bahia habitat. The grasses, which can grow to be up to 3 feet tall, will be transplanted from other areas of the restoration project.


Contact Info: Steve Martarano, 916-930-5643, steve_martarano@fws.gov



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