A joint venture between Magnus Pacific, Sonoma Land Trust and Ducks Unlimited has broken ground in preparing diked agricultural baylands at Sears Point. The 960-acre site along Highway 37 on San Pablo Bay will allow tides to be reintroduced, which will assist in returning many of the wetlands lost in the 1800s when farming land was needed to supply the booming city of San Francisco.
A variety of innovative features are being used to complete this wetlands restoration. Marsh mounds are being scattered randomly throughout the site. These mounds will accrete sediment, preventing erosion as well as provide additional locations for plants and wildlife to inhabit. A levee will be built on the south side of the railroad tracks to keep the tracks safe. Once the marsh mounds are finished being built and the site is ready, the Land Trust will breach the levee in two places to allow bay water to fill the wetlands. It is expected to take 18 months before the levees are ready to be breeched.
“The site will [also] become Sonoma County’s premier access point to the Bay,” says Julian Meisler, SLT Baylands program manager. The San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge will expand and provide critical habitats for wildlife and prevent the area from rising sea levels. In addition to the wildlife reclamation, the project will also add 3.5 miles of new trails, including a 2.5 mile segment of the San Francisco Bay Trail.
The project has been in the planning phase for close to 10 years and has raised nearly 18 million dollars. Meisler praised the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria tribe for making this possible. The tribe had purchased the land with original plan of building a casino on the premise, but later decided to donate the option to the Land Trust as well as contributed $75,000 for the project.