Rancho Cordova, California – June 13, 2016 – Ducks Unlimited, Inc. was recently awarded $13,727,170 by the California State Coastal Conservancy for implementation of two Phase II projects of the South Bay Salt Pond (SBSP) Restoration Project, the largest tidal wetland restoration project on the West Coast. When completed, the project will restore 15,100 acres of industrial salt ponds to a rich mosaic of tidal wetlands and other habitats in the San Francisco Bay Area.
"Returning the tides to former salt ponds and improving open water pond habitat for waterfowl and shorebirds on such a grand scale is beyond amazing," said Renee Spenst, Ph.D., regional biologist for Ducks Unlimited. "It is also our best opportunity to maintain marshes as sea level rises, and to recover species reliant on these special habitats."
The Coastal Conservancy's award will fund work associated with Phase II design, completion, and construction at the Ravenswood and Mountain View Ponds, which is expected to last 3 years.
"It is imperative we restore as many wetlands as we can, as fast as can," said Sam Schuchat, Executive Officer for the Coastal Conservancy. "If we restore them now and give them a chance to evolve and grow vegetation, they will be there for us to absorb storm waves and high tides as sea levels rise. It's great to work with Ducks Unlimited because they share our sense of urgency."
Work on Phase 1 of the SBSP was completed at Eden Landing Ecological Reserve in Hayward, marked by a grand opening celebration heralding a new kayak launch, extensive trails and enhanced wildlife habitat. Partnership in the SBSP Restoration Project marks Ducks Unlimited's continued dedication to improving habitat in the San Francisco Bay, which has lost an estimated 85 percent of its historic wetlands to fill or alteration. This dramatic decline in tidal marsh habitats has caused populations of marsh-dependent fish and wildlife to dwindle. It has also decreased water quality and increased local flood risks.
Restoration of the salt ponds will begin to reverse these trends by improving the health of San Francisco Bay. Ducks Unlimited played a pivotal role in several other recently-completed Bay Area restoration projects, including Bair Island, Cullinan Ranch, and Sears Point. DU was also proud to join California leaders, conservation groups and businesses in endorsing Measure AA, which is critical to restoring wetlands and protecting wildlife habitat for future generations throughout the Bay Area.
Funding from the Coastal Conservancy includes $2.2 million from the Conservancy's appropriation of Proposition 1 (Water Quality, Supply and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014) funds, as well as $956,755 from the US EPA's San Francisco Bay Water Quality Improvement Fund, $951,260 from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's National Coastal Wetland Conservation grant program, $4.9 million from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, $4.7 million from the California Department of Water Resources as well as $32,541 in mitigation funding from the Pacific Gas & Electric Company.