Turning the Tide: San Francisco Bay benefits from historic levee breach

The San Francisco Bay added substantial square footage on September 13, as the California Department of Fish and Game breached a levee that had held the sea back for more than a hundred years. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the state's wildlife agency, U.S. Geological Survey, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration along with several other California state and local agencies committed funding and resources to the Eden Landing Ecological Reserve Project, which is in the southern San Francisco Bay. Ducks Unlimited handled both the project and the construction management, key roles in the restoration of the former commercial salt ponds. 

"It is exciting to restore tidal hydrology, seeing the tides flood the site for the first time in over a hundred years," said Renee Spenst, DU regional biologist. "Thousands of acres of salt ponds used to rim the South Bay. Over the last century the San Francisco Bay has lost 95 percent of its historic tidal marshes, so we're extremely pleased to be a part of such an historic restoration project."

The media surged in just like the tide for the event, as did various conservation groups, both bringing much-needed attention to this vital Bay Area project. Prior to the breach, the land resembled a lunar landscape. Thanks to this project, the area is completely submerged and beginning to create conditions suitable for fish, shorebirds and waterfowl. As sediments continue to accrete and plants being to regenerate, these once-lush wetlands will begin to be restored and create new habitat for hundreds of species, including waterfowl, shorebirds and salmon. 

"The Eden Landing Ecological Reserve Project demonstrates yet again the great value delivered and the role that private-public partnerships have in conserving vital waterfowl habitat," said DU's Director of the Governmental Affairs Office Scott Sutherland.