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Water Quality Improvement Projects at Point Reyes National Seashore

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Date: June 1, 2007
Contact: John DiGregoria, 415-464-5172
Contact: Beth Eisenberg, 415-464-5216

The Tomales Bay Rangeland BMP Pathogen Total Maximum Daily Load Implementation Project (Project) has received support through a grant from the California State Water Resources Control Board with funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under the Federal Nonpoint Source Pollution Control Program (Clean Water Act Section 319). Support has also been received through matched funds from the Point Reyes National Seashore, Point Reyes National Seashore Association (PRNSA), and the Marin Resource Conservation District.

The purpose of the Project is to study the effectiveness of ten demonstration Best Management Practices (BMPs) at reducing non-point source pollutant delivery from pastoral lands within Point Reyes National Seashore and Golden Gate National Recreation Area to the Tomales Bay Watershed. Project actions are to identify persistent nonpoint sources of pollution from pastoral lands, implement ten demonstration BMPs to reduce pollutant loading to waterways in the Tomales Bay Watershed, and monitor water quality pre and post BMP implementation to establish baseline data and quantify reductions achieved through the performance of the BMPs. The results of this project may be used to develop a model for the future implementation of TMDL programs on park and or private lands within the watershed and to guide Point Reyes National Seashore with future rangeland management.

The ten demonstration BMPs identified to be constructed during the summer and fall of 2007 include two each of five standard Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) practices; riparian exclusion fencing, seasonal grazing fencing, spring development, headcut repair, and road repair. Final designs and construction plans are being developed. Ten year maintenance plans will be developed as part of the Project. Regulatory compliance will be conducted through the Marin Coastal Watersheds Permit Coordination Program and Point Reyes National Seashore. Construction of projects will be implemented by private contractors, Marin Conservation Corps (MCC), Point Reyes National Seashore staff, and ranch operators.

Beneficial uses of Tomales Bay and its tributary watersheds include recreation, shellfish production, cold water fishery, spawning waters, migration waters, navigable waters, rare species and wildlife habitat. These watersheds support a variety of federally protected species including coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch), steelhead trout (O. mykiss), California freshwater shrimp (Syncharis pacifica), and California red-legged frog (Rana aurora draytonii).

Because of identified water quality impacts to ecological and commercial values, Tomales Bay is currently listed as impaired by the Regional Water Quality Control Board for pathogens, sediment, nutrients, and mercury.When a body of water is listed as impaired, law requires the development of an action plan, called a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL), to improve water quality.

The projects to be implemented include:

Spring Development #1 This project will prevent cattle access to the three degraded springs, provide an alternate water source (watering area) for the cattle, and allow for the revegetation and stabilization of the area around the three springs and an eroded trailing system leading to the three springs and abandoned stock pond.

Spring Development #2 This project will prevent cattle access to a developed spring with an existing water trough, provide an alternate water source (watering area) for the cattle, and allow for revegetation and stabilization of the area around the spring.

Headcut Repair #1 This project will stabilize a several active headcuts within a 250-foot vegetated swale draining to an incised channel, bioengineer several headcuts within the swale and upper end of the incised channel, revegetate the impacted area with native plants, and prevent livestock access.

Headcut Repair#2 This project will restore a bottomland stream channel by installing a grade control structure, filling a 250-foot long by eight-foot wide gully, stabilizing the active headcut, restoring the historic stream channel (intermittent) and floodplain, and preventing livestock access.

Road Repair #1 This project will regrade, surface and install water bars along 375 ft. of an existing ranch access road to reduce sediment from being delivered directly to a tributary to Olema Creek.

Road Repair#2 / Creek Stabilization This project will decommission 770 ft. of an existing ranch road, restore 350 ft. of the historic stream channel and floodplain impacted by the road to be decommissioned, and rehabilitate 40 ft. of an existing ranch road that branches off of the road to be decommissioned.

Riparian Exclusion #1 Riparian exclusion fencing will be installed to prevent livestock access to Lagunitas Creek.

Riparian Exclusion #2 Riparian exclusion fencing will be installed to prevent livestock access to a headwater tributary to Olema Creek.

Seasonal Grazing#1 Fencing will be installed to facilitate a seasonal grazing system that will prevent winter access to a riparian area and tributary to the lower reaches of Olema Creek.

Seasonal Grazing #2 Fencing will be installed to facilitate a seasonal grazing system that will prevent winter access to a riparian lowland area and highly eroded crossing. Crossing will be relocated to an upland location with previous use.

-NPS-

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...