Description: The Giacomini Wetlands Restoration Project (GWRP) is a centerpiece of the Tomales Bay Restoration and Enhancement Initiative in Marin County, CA. The project is restoring 563 acres of a historic salt marsh that was diked in the 1940s for dairy ranching. Point Reyes National Seashore partnered with the Point Reyes National Seashore Association and the National Park Foundation to raise funds for the project through a combination of mitigation settlement funds, federal and state funds and large grants from a small number of foundation sources.
Tomales Bay is one of the top 6 most biologically diverse areas in the US and one of the top 100 shorebirds areas in the world. It also supports the southernmost stable coho salmon population.
The total project cost, including land acquisition, project planning and design, construction, construction contingencies and project supervision was $10.5 million which has been secured from private, state and federal sources.
The initial funding component for the GWRP was $1.55 million in Congressional appropriations through the Land and Water Conservation Fund and a $4.228 million mitigation settlement from the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans). The majority of those funds was used to acquire the Waldo Giacomini Ranch property for $4.5 million in 2000. The ranch includes 550 acres of "lowlands" and 13 acres of "uplands" on the mesa above the former wetlands. Remaining Caltrans' mitigation funds and other monies (e.g. Conservation Challenge Initiative) funded planning, feasibility analysis, and preparation of construction specifications for the restoration project.
The NPS worked with the Point Reyes National Seashore Association (PRNSA) and the National Park Foundation (NPF) to seek funding from major foundations and government funding sources. After the purchase of the property, the project received a $2.4 million grant from the Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation and implementation monies from the Cape Mohican oil spill mitigation settlement. The Department of the Interior awarded a $1 million National Coastal Wetlands grant to help conserve, restore and protect the wetlands in January 2007. Other large grant sources include the Fish and Wildlife Foundation, North American Wetlands Conservation Act grant funds, and the California Coastal Conservancy.
The Giacomini Ranch constitutes the largest tidal wetland complex in the Tomales Bay Estuary. Restored wetlands filter nutrients, contaminants, and sediment in freshwater inflows from Lagunitas, Olema, and Bear Valley Creeks and provide a source of food for estuarine and marine wildlife species for export to the Bay. Construction for the project began in 2006 and was phased over three years.
Enhancement activities for special status species were conducted between August and October 2006. In fall 2008, most of the construction for the project was completed.
The award-winning project reintroduced natural hydrology and wetland functions to approximately 12 percent of the wetlands along the outer central California coast. The number of white-tailed kites, herons and egrets visiting the site has increased greatly. There have been coyote and bobcat sitings and seals and otters have been spotted in the creek water.
Following implementation of the restoration, Point Reyes National Seashore began post-project monitoring to determine whether any remedial measures will be necessary to improve project performance and success. In December 2008, a survey was conducted and more than 3,400 waterbirds were identified at the site. Approximately 25 different waterbird species were observed, including the American wigeon, northern pintail, green-winged teal and northern shoveler. The most compelling visitors have been the bald eagles and the California black rails which has all but disappeared from many of its historic habitats.
Geographic area covered: Approximately 550 acres of diked grazing land and 13 acres of upland habitat in the southern portion of the Tomales Bay Watershed located in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and administered by the Point Reyes National Seashore in Marin County.
List of partners and relationships: Point Reyes National Seashore, the Point Reyes National Seashore Association and the National Park Foundation.
Accomplishments to date:
- Completed fundraising and implemented project.
- Final Environmental Impact Statement to be completed summer 2007
- The project increased the amount of hydrologically connected coastal wetlands by 12 percent along the Central California coast.
Key success factors:
- Compelling project.
- Mitigation settlement funds.
- Goal of significant wetlands restoration of key Estuary had strong appeal to donor and grant sources.
- Focus on limited number of high probability funding sources.
- NPF engaged when certain donors preferred to give at national level.
Frustrations: Planning process took five years to complete.
Most important lessons learned to date:
- Creative projects can secure national funds from a variety of sources.
- Large scale projects on this nature however, take several years to complete.
- Strong partner relationships were key to bring project to completion.
What would you do differently next time: Start early on the partnership agreement needed with the NPS regional and national offices.
Suggested resource materials(related to the case study): NPS fundraising guidance.
For more information:
Affiliation: Superintendent, Point Reyes National Seashore
Partnership category(ies) (check all that apply)
Fundraising _X_; Capital Improvement ___; Facility Management _X_; Trails _X_; Design _X_; Program Delivery __;
Visitor Services ___; Tenant Organizations __; Concessioners __; Natural Resources Management/Restoration _X_;
Cultural Resources ___;
Education/Interpretation ___; Arts ___; Information Services ___; Transportation ___; Mutual Aid __;
Fire Management __; Planning ___; Tourism ___; Community Relations ___;
Prepared by: Suzanne Brinkley, Planner, Pacific West Regional Office with assistance from Superintendent Don Neubacher