Giacomini Wetlands Restoration Project Receives $420,000 Grant
Contact: John Dell'Osso, 415-464-5135
Contact: Lorraine Parsons, 415-464-5193
On August 28, 2008, the Commissioners for the State of California Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB) voted unanimously to award $420,000 in funding to the Giacomini Wetland Restoration Project for floodplain and riparian restoration and enhancement along Lagunitas Creek. Point Reyes National Seashore Association (PRNSA) had approached WCB for funding, because construction bids received during the bid process were higher than estimated due to the skyrocketing fuel costs. This award will enable PRNSA to expand the contract with Hanford ARC for four additional restoration components, including floodplain terrace creation, removal of riprap, and further lowering of elevations in the former south levee area in the East Pasture. The WCB was extremely excited about the opportunity to be part of this project by providing the necessary funding to complete 100 percent of the Phase II components. This raises the total funding for the restoration portion of the Giacomini Wetland Restoration Project to $6.1 million.
Through the Giacomini Wetlands project, the National Park Service (NPS) and its state partner, the California State Lands Commission (CSLC), are restoring more than 600 acres of wetland and floodplain habitat at the head of Tomales Bay. Because of its importance to wildlife, Tomales Bay is not only part of the Central California Coastal Biosphere Reserve, but in 2002, was nominated as a wetland of international importance under an international treaty called the Convention on Wetlands (commonly known as the Ramsar Convention). Natural wetlands provide habitat and food for hundreds of estuarine and marine wildlife species, many of which are listed by state and federal agencies as threatened or endangered. Some of the species expected to benefit from this project include the state threatened California black rail, federally and state endangered California clapper rail, federally endangered central California coast Coho salmon, federally threatened central California coastal steelhead trout, federally endangered tidewater goby, and other species of concern such as the saltmarsh common yellowthroat and the southwestern river otter.
Since 2004, the Point Reyes National Seashore Association (PRNSA), a non-profit organization that provides support to the Seashore, has been spearheading efforts to raise more than $6.0 million in non-NPS funds for implementing the proposed restoration project. The PRNSA has exceeded that goal now by having raised $6.1 million for this project. Other fund sources include The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, North American Wetlands Conservation Act, Watershed Council of the State of California Water Control Board (Prop 50), and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation – Northern California Restoration Grant.
The following activities are now underway at the Giacomini Project Site.
Tidal Channel Creation: Construction contractors are currently focusing on creation of tidal channels and sloughs and high tide refugia for rails in the northern portion of the East Pasture. The middle Tomasini Slough has been completed, and contractors are working on the upper and lower Tomasini Slough currently. Tomasini Slough will be the new alignment for the currently leveed Tomasini Creek in late October. This week the contractors will begin some of the smaller tidal channels in the East Pasture.
Levee Removal: In addition, the final section of levee in the northernmost portion of the East Pasture will be excavated soon to leave a small berm. At some of the southernmost areas, levees have been completely removed, but in the middle and northern portions of the ranch, a small amount of outer levee material is being retained as a berm to maintain dry working conditions through late October. The culvert and tidegate on the East Pasture Old Slough has been removed, and so has the pumphouse and pump on Lagunitas Creek.
Hauling and Disposal of Sediment: In the West Pasture, the main activity will be continued hauling of excavated sediment to the quarries. Hauling is being conducted with biodiesel-fueled trucks. At this time, most of the East Pasture levee material is being used to fill drainage ditches, with some being used at the Dairy Mesa to restore the natural topography of the Mesa. Construction has been requiring careful coordination and interaction with Park Service and contractor biologists to ensure that no special status species occur in the work zones.
Eucalyptus Removal: a separate set of contractors has completed removal of a large portion of the non-native Eucalyptus trees on the Giacomini Ranch property near the Martinelli Ranch, which is part of Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Thanks to a donation by a local member of the Point Reyes community, more than 60 medium- and large-sized Eucalyptus trees were felled and, when possible, chipped and evenly redistributed within the work area. Smaller-diameter trees will cut by Park Service staff during the next month. The chips decompose very rapidly and help to suppress establishment of other non-native species, including French broom. This removal of these invasive non-native trees begins the process of restoring more than 0.6 acre of mesic coastal scrub and oak woodland/savannah habitat. It will also contribute to improving conditions for riparian habitat along the current Tomasini Creek channel by decreasing the amount of groundwater and surface water taken up by Eucalyptus trees, which are heavy water users, according to Jordan Reeser of the Seashore’s Fire Management, who is heading the project.