San Francisco Bay Project Benefits Waterbirds and People

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Photo © Michael Furtman

Eden Landing Ecological Reserve is a Northern California gem located along the shoreline of South San Francisco Bay, near Hayward. The reserve is highly visible and easily accessible to some 11 million Californians, offering an active hunting program with plans for future fishing access. However, the reserve is also in an area heavily affected by development and human encroachment, which has consumed approximately 95 percent of South San Francisco Bay's tidal marshes over the last century.

To reverse this trend, state and federal agencies and a variety of other partners kicked off the South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project in 2003. This project will convert more than 15,000 acres of commercial salt ponds-including those at Eden Landing-to a mix of tidal marsh, mudflats, and other wetland habitats.

However, this conversion project must be handled carefully. A key factor in restoring tidal marsh habitat is maintaining the populations of waterbirds that have come to rely on salt ponds for migration and wintering habitat. To address this concern, a minimum of 1,600 acres of salt ponds will be reconfigured and enhanced to provide habitat for a variety of waterbirds, including shorebirds and waterfowl.

Bearing in mind the need to balance these restoration efforts with waterbird habitat requirements, Ducks Unlimited and its partners kicked off the Eden Landing Project. DU staff worked closely with the landowner, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and other partners to provide grant writing, design review, project management, construction oversight, environmental compliance monitoring, interpretive planning, and waterbird monitoring on the project site.

Habitat enhancements on the site included the construction of shallow foraging mounds, gentle swales, and nesting islands. These enhancements will optimize foraging and roosting habitat within a smaller footprint and influence future restoration efforts. While construction has been complete for just a short time, waterbird response is already evident on the project site. Continued monitoring will guide future construction efforts on other ponds.

Along with the obvious wildlife benefits, the Eden Landing Project will also benefit the many people who visit Eden Landing Ecological Reserve. The project will provide a universally accessible 3.8-mile loop trail to the reserve's perimeter levee with a spur trail to the shoreline viewing area as well as three new viewing areas, interpretive panels with environmental and historical themes, and a public kayak launch facility on Mt. Eden Creek. This facility will also include a restricted-access ramp for boats used for waterfowl hunting, management, and monitoring activities.