Four of Moffatt & Nichol’s key wetland restoration projects in the San Francisco Bay Area have returned to natural marshland.
The most recent is at Bair Island in San Mateo County, one of California’s largest wetland restoration projects at 1400 acres.
The entire project involved placing over one million cubic yards of fill to raise grade within Inner Bair, breaching levees to restore tidal influence to previously diked Inner, Middle, and Outer Bair Islands, constructing flood control structures in Smith Slough and Corkscrew Slough, and public access features for San Francisco Bay Trail users.
Moffatt & Nichol has been responsible for the overall project design since 2007 and last year, the firm’s efforts were recognized with a Merit Award from Engineering News-Record.
Bair Island is Moffatt & Nichol’s fourth restored wetland this year in the San Francisco Bay area.
The first one took place in January at the Cullinan Ranch portion of the San Pablo Bay National Refuge. Tidal waters returned to the diked baylands after a 100+ year absence, restoring 1200 acres of wildlife habitat.
In October, tidal waters returned to the 900acre Sears Point farmlands in Sonoma County and around that same time, Audubon California saw its wetland habitat in the Sonoma Creek Marsh dramatically improved.
“Restoring the Bay Area wetlands is high priority,” said Moffatt & Nichol Project Manager Dilip Trivedi, PE. “The wetlands protect against storm surges, filter pollutants from past land use practices, and most importantly, they provide a balance in the urban landscape and ecosystem of the Bay Area.”
Since tidal marshes take a while to form, it could be decades before vegetation returns to the restored Bay Area wetlands, but certain types of animals, such as birds and mice, have already started to settle back in.