• The Point Reyes Beach as viewed from the Point Reyes Headlands

    Point Reyes

    National Seashore California

Giacomini Wetland Restoration Project: Summary of Construction Under Phase I and II: How Did We Keep the Public Informed?

 

A crucial component of a successful construction project—particularly one that is in an urban or residential area—is public communication. The public needs to know what to expect, when to expect it, and how long impacts might last. Sometimes, conveying this information in a timely manner is difficult because of the inherently changeable nature of construction in which scheduling of components is frequently changed. Due to the strong interest from the community in this project and potential impacts from the project, the Park Service and PRNSA worked with Winzler & Kelly Engineers to develop an effective public outreach program. During Phase II, the team incorporated lessons from Phase I to improve communication effectiveness.

Some of the key elements of this program were:

1. Disseminate Information on the Project Prior to Construction Start

 
Interpretative sign along Lagunitas Creek spur trail with posted update.

Interpretative sign along Lagunitas Creek spur trail with posted update.

Intrepretative Signs: Some of the key elements to this phase involved putting up interpretative signs on perimeter of the Project Area along some of the trails and at the construction entrance. Signs had an area for posting updates about the construction project. These were updated either every two to four weeks depending on the construction phase.

Web Page: The Park Service developed a construction update web page that discussed the timing of construction and potential impacts.

Door-to-Door Visits: Several weeks prior to the start of construction, the construction manager and a colleague went door to door in Point Reyes Station and Inverness Park to homes and businesses that were directly adjacent to the Project Area to update residents and business owners on the project, timeline, potential impacts, and contact information.

Local Media: The Park Service staff also alerted the media prior to the start of construction in order to disseminate information through local papers.

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2. Disseminate Information on the Project During Construction

During construction, information was disseminated in a number of ways.

Posting of Updates on Interpretative Signs: Pertinent updates on the construction project and impacts were posted on the interpretative signs at the 5th and C Street construction entrance, Lagunitas Creek spur trail, and the West Pasture North Levee entrance.

 
Lorraine Parsons, Project Manager, Park Service, gives an update on construction status.

Lorraine Parsons, Project Manager, Park Service, gives an update on construction status.

Posting of Updates on the Web Page: The Park Service maintained a web page on construction that was updated at least every other week. The Park Service also emailed information out on Park Wavelengths.

Monthly Construction Update Seminar: On the first Friday of every month, the Park Service project manager, Lorraine Parsons, would conduct an on-site construction update.

Field Seminars: To give the public a better understanding of the future changes expected with restoration and why this project is so important, the Park Service and PRNSA organized a series of highly successful monthly Saturday field seminars that covered a wide variety of restoration-related topics. Below is a list of the topics covered.

 
Mark Cederborg, Project Manager, Hanford ARC, discusses challenges of constructing in wetlands.

Mark Cederborg, Project Manager, Hanford ARC, discusses challenges of constructing in wetlands.

  • On August 23, 2008, Mark Cederborg, Project Manager for Hanford ARC for the Giacomini and Coastal Watershed Restoration Projects, discussed some of the construction methods and challenges.


  • On September 27, 2008, Lorraine Parsons, Project Manager/Wetland Ecologist for Point Reyes National Seashore, discussed some of the challenges and opportunities in restoring estuarine wetlands and changes expected with the Giacomini Wetland Restoration Project.
 
Brannon Ketcham, Park Service hydrologist, discusses change in hydrology with restoration.

Brannon Ketcham, Park Service hydrologist, discusses change in hydrology with restoration.

  • On October 25, 2008, Jules Evens, a noted avian biologist who has studied the birds and other wildlife in this area for decades, discussed the dynamics of bird use prior to and after restoration of the Giacomini Wetlands.


  • On November 22, 2008, Brannon Ketcham, the park’s hydrologist, and Michael Reichmuth, the park’s fisheries biologist, discussed changes in hydrology and fish use and communities with restoration of the Giacomini Wetlands.

Media Updates: Local papers occasionally ran stories on the restoration project, including the West Marin Citizen, a local weekly paper which sometimes ran the construction updates as a column.

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3. October Breach Celebration
 
Water flowing through breached levee on October 25, 2008.

Water flowing through breached levee on October 25, 2008.

Because of the incredible amount of interest from the public in the actual date that Giacomini would "go tidal," the Park Service and PRNSA organized a multi-day celebration event on October 25–26 to commemorate the final breaching of levees at the Giacomini Ranch.

Approximately 175 people turned out on Saturday, October 25, to hear noted wildlife biologist Jules Evens discuss the dynamics and changes in bird use in the Giacomini Ranch prior to and after restoration. Later that afternoon, the contractor demolished the remaining portions of levees in the northern portion of the East Pasture to the accompaniment of cheers from the more than 50 people who hiked out the Tomales Bay Trail to watch the momentous occasion.

 
Visitors walking out into marsh during breach celebration event.

Visitors walking out into marsh during breach celebration event.

On Sunday, October 26, 2008, more than 500 people showed up to celebrate the final breaching of levees by walking out into the newly restored marshplain enhancement area during one of the first high tides to flood the Giacomini Ranch in more than 60 years since the former marsh was leveed. Many people elected to take out their shoes and sink their toes directly into the mud! Following the walk (and kayak), more than 300 people came over to the Seashore’s Red Barn for a celebration event that included toasts to some of the key people and agencies that made the project happen, a slide show, posters discussing the project, and several viewings of a new video produced by Doug McConnell, formerly of Bay Area Back Roads, that commemorates the final stages of the project. This video has been updated and will be shown in the Visitor Center in the future.

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Did You Know?

Fog-filled valley with yellow twilight glow over a ridge in the background. © John B. Weller.

The rich, lush environment of Point Reyes heavily depends on the fog. During rainless summers, fog can account for 1/3 of the ecosystem's water input. But recent studies have indicated that there has been about a 30 percent reduction in fog during the last 100 years here in coastal California. More...