The recently completed Hester Marsh project restored 65 acres of salt marsh at California’s Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve.
The work, begun in January, adding soil from the Pajaro River flood control project to increase the elevation of drowned marshes.
The restoration will improve marsh resilience to sea level rise, provide healthy habitat for sea otters, and capture greenhouse gases.
One hundred years ago, the Elkhorn Slough area was dominated by grasslands and tidal salt marshes.
By the 1930s, many adjacent marshes had been diked, drained, and “reclaimed” for farming and grazing.
Once drained, the former wetlands subsided and the soil compacted; when the dikes began to fail in the 1970s, the soil was too low in elevation to support marsh vegetation.
About half of the salt marsh in Elkhorn Slough has been lost in the past century, largely due to this type of diking and draining.