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

    Point Reyes

    National Seashore California

Giacomini Wetland Restoration Project Receives $2.5 Million Grant

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Date: August 8, 2005
Contact: John Dell’Osso, 415-464-5135
Contact: Gary Knoblock, 415-663-1835

Northern California's coastal wetlands received a significant boost last week when the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation committed a $2.54 million grant to begin restoration of 563 acres of wetlands in Tomales Bay, adjacent to Point Reyes National Seashore. The Giacomini wetland restoration project in Tomales Bay will increase coastal wetlands within central California by approximately 12% and will benefit not only the immediately affected lands, but also the Tomales Bay watershed ecosystem as a whole. The grant will be made to the National Park Foundation, which is working in close collaboration with the National Park Service and the Point Reyes National Seashore Association to complete this restoration initiative.

To address the loss of 95% of California's wetlands to commercial, residential, and agricultural development, the National Park Service, the National Park Foundation and the Point Reyes National Seashore Association have launched a $5 million campaign to restore these wetlands in 2007 and 2008. The Giacomini Ranch, adjacent to Point Reyes National Seashore, is a former wetland area that was purchased by the Giacomini family in 1944 to increase milk production for the wartime effort. At that time, levees were built to hold back the waters of Tomales Bay during high tide, enabling the creation of a dairy operation. In 2000, the National Park Service reached an agreement with the Giacomini family to purchase the 563 acre ranch for approximately $4 million and began planning to restore the wetlands.

Long-term Benefits

  • The project will result in a substantial increase in habitat for marine, estuarine, and freshwater wildlife species, including rare species such as the coho salmon, steelhead, green sturgeon, tidewater goby, California clapper rail, black rail, common yellowthroat, southwestern river otter and others.
  • As mentioned previously, restoration of the 563 acres could increase the extent of coastal wetlands within northern California by as much as 12 percent.
  • Tomales Bay water quality has been declared impaired by the State Regional Water Quality Control Board. This project will improve the health of the Tomales Bay estuary through filtering of sediment, contaminants, nutrients, and pathogens from nearby tributaries.
  • This project will provide the greater San Francisco Bay Area with unique opportunities to experience, enjoy, and learn about the restoration process, the importance of wetlands, and the history of the Giacomini Ranch through volunteer events and a series of interpretive exhibits and elevated overlooks.
  • Increased floodwater retention on the Giacomini Ranch floodplains may result in a significant decrease in flooding of the county road and private homes along the southern perimeter of the project area.

Tomales Bay and the restored wetlands will play a significant role in supporting the tapestry of coastal Marin wetlands providing important habitat to migratory waterfowl and shore birds on the Pacific Flyway. The project area is within the UNESCO designated Golden Gate Biosphere Reserve. Two estuaries in coastal Marin, Tomales Bay and Bolinas Lagoon, are recognized as Wetlands of International Importance by the Ramsar Convention. These two wetlands are among only 22 sites in the United States with this designation. Within coastal Marin, there are 4 of the State Water Resources Control Board’s 34 Areas of Special Biological Significance. The Giacomini Wetlands also span the Tomales Bay – Lagunitas Creek Critical Coastal Area designated by the California Coastal Commission.

"The results of this wetlands restoration initiative will be highly visible and quite stunning," said Gary Knoblock, Executive Director of the Point Reyes National Seashore Association. "Visitors to Point Reyes will see an increase in wildlife and as water quality improves, which in turn improves the overall ecological health of the Bay, the gorgeous views will become even more spectacular. For these reasons, we are excited to help make this project a reality."

The National Park Foundation, the National Park Service and the Point Reyes National Seashore Association, have formed a partnership to raise the $5 million needed to complete the restoration project from non-government sources.

"The Seashore Association and our partners have not attempted to raise such a large sum of money before," said Knoblock on the new fund-raising campaign. "Our outreach to the community will play a critical role in meeting this important park need. The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation grant gets us halfway to our goal and gives us tremendous momentum, which makes us confident we will succeed."

The Point Reyes National Seashore Association (PRNSA) is the primary non-profit organization working with the public working to preserve this national treasure. Since 1964, PRNSA has been able to successfully partner with community members to take action and address park needs and has provided more than $5 million of donations to critical preservation and enhancement projects. With this new Wetlands Restoration Campaign underway, the Seashore Association will contribute another $5 million to the National Seashore between 2006 and 2008.

The mission of the National Park Foundation is to strengthen the enduring connection move to between the American people and their National Parks by raising private funds, making strategic connections, creating innovative partnerships, and raising awareness. The National Park Foundation works collaboratively with the National Park Service and key partners to support a multi-dimensional web of opportunities for people from all backgrounds, ages and regions to connect with their National Parks through personally meaningful experiences.

The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation was established in September 2000 to create positive outcomes for future generations. The Foundation funds outcome-based grants and initiatives to achieve significant and measurable results. Grantmaking supports the Foundation's principal areas of interest: global environmental conservation, science, and the San Francisco Bay Area.

The land was purchased using a combination of Congressional appropriations and mitigation funding from the California Department of Transportation (CalTrans). While officially part of Golden Gate National Recreation Area, the area is administered by Point Reyes National Seashore. The restoration will occur in partnership with California State Lands Commission and the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary.

In addition to having national and international significance and support from the National Park Service, restoration efforts in Coastal Marin are supported by the local community. This proposal is consistent with the Tomales Bay Watershed Council’s goal to "restore and preserve the integrity of natural habitats and native communities" outlined in their Stewardship Plan. Restoration of Giacomini wetlands is endorsed in the Point Reyes Station Community Plan.

- NPS -

Did You Know?

Harbor Seal Pup, © Sue Van Der Wal

Harbor seals (Phoca vitulina) are present in the waters of Point Reyes year round. Every spring, approximately 7,000 harbor seals, or 20% of the mainland California breeding population, haul out on the beaches of Point Reyes. Look for them in the esteros and in Tomales Bay and Bolinas Lagoon. More...