Giacomini Wetland Restoration Project: 15th Anniversary Celebration

 
A broad, placid creek flows past tule in the foreground with a flat, green wetland beyond the creek.
Lagunitas Creek and the Giacomini Wetlands.

NPS Photo / Amelia Ryan

 
Cartoon of birds, rays. wetland plants, and water within a circle with perimeter text of "Giacomini Wetlands, Hope Restored; 15th Anniversary, 2008–2023."

Point Reyes National Seashore Association / Barry Deutsch & Lori Wynn

On Saturday, October 28, 2023, Point Reyes National Seashore (Seashore) and Point Reyes National Seashore Association (PRNSA) celebrated the 15th Anniversary of the final breaching of the levees to reintroduce tidal flooding to the restored Giacomini Wetlands. The theme of this year’s event was "Hope Restored," and the events were designed to support this theme. Lori Wynn and Barry Deutsch captured this theme with a wonderful graphics design that was incorporated into t-shirts developed to help commemorate this momentous event.

 
Eight people along a creek, some looking through binoculars away from the photographer.
Some of the participants of the Giacomini Wetlands 15th Anniversary Birding Walk on October 28, 2023.

© PRNSA

The day started with a birding walk led by local avian biologist Mary Anne Flett and John Dell'Osso, former Chief of Interpretation at the Seashore. Late morning, Sally Bolger, a former PRNSA boardmember who managed the construction portion of the restoration project on behalf of PRNSA, read from her children's book that was inspired by the Giacomini project, "Fun in the Mud."

 
Thirty-six people sit facing to the right in a white-walled room.
The Science Symposium audience.

© PRNSA

In the afternoon, people came to the Red Barn for a number of talks that focused on various aspects of wetland restoration, including ecological workforce development and perceived value and success of restoration projects as viewed by both the public and restoration practitioners. Descriptions of the presentations can be found below. Due to staffing and logistical issues associated with COVID, monitoring associated with the 15th Anniversary was more limited than that for the 10th Anniversary, with the exception being waterbird and nesting bird surveys. However, short summaries of the Giacomini monitoring information presented at the 10th Anniversary event and in associated report are available on our Tenth Anniversary: Research Summaries page. A list of scientific papers that have been published so far is also provided below.

 

Top of Page

Presentation Summaries

 
A man stands in front of a seated audience and adjacent to a screen on which a slide with a title of "The Economic Value of Ecological Restoration: Closing the Loop" is projected.
Mark Cederborg presenting his lecture.

© PRNSA

"The Economic Value of Ecological Restoration: Closing the Loop"
Presented by Mark Cederborg, Managing Partner, Outset Advisors

Mark Cederborg's talk focused on the importance of having a skilled workforce to implement restoration projects. Wetlands and other restoration projects need to have laborers and equipment operators with specialized skills and knowledge in order to work appropriately in sensitive habitats and around species of concern, yet currently there is no standardized training for those workers. Cederborg argued that providing specialized ecological training creates pathways to living wage careers, improves project outcomes, and raises awareness that investing in ecological restoration is also investing in good jobs and can help boost the economy.

"Understanding Community Member Perceptions of Estuaries Relative to Restoration Project Progress in Tomales Bay, CA"
Presented by Julie Gonzales, Ph.D., UC Davis

Julie Gonzalez, a Ph.D. graduate student at University of California, Davis, discussed how the public perceives the success and value of wetland restoration projects, comparing public perceptions of projects in Alsea Bay, Oregon, and Tomales Bay, CA (Giacomini Wetland Restoration Project). Both public groups valued larger scale metrics of sea-level rise resilience and habitat provision for fish and wildlife, but the Marin community surveyed was more supportive of wetland restoration than that in Oregon, which was concerned about loss of agricultural lands and pastoral landscapes, potential increases in flooding, and economic impacts of converting agricultural back to wetlands. In Marin, 95% of the respondents surveyed by Gonzalez and her colleagues were excited about restoration when shown before and after pictures of the Giacomini Wetland Restoration Project, and 96% thought the restoration would help the environment, specifically fish and wildlife.

"Restoring Vitality: Pasture to Wetland"
Presented by Jules Evens, Principal, Avocet Research Associates)

Jules Evens delved into results of waterbird, nesting bird, and California black rail surveys over the past year, which was highly influenced by the strong series of atmospheric river events in 2022/2023. Trends in bird abundance were compared to pre- and past post-restoration results. In general, waterbird numbers were greatly down in 2022–2023, with abundance of waterbirds at the site was approximately one-half (47%) that of the previous coverage in 2017/18 for similar time periods. Evens speculated that a number of factors could account for this, although the most likely cause for this disparity was the severe weather patterns experienced during the survey period (Evens, et al., 2023). However, negative trends in both shorebirds and some other waterbirds occurring on Tomales Bay have been documented by ACR (Warnock et al. 2021, ACR unpublished data in Evens 2023). Nesting bird abundance has generally been on the upswing, although numbers of two species common during the pre-restoration period and adapted to agricultural settings, savannah sparrow and red-winged blackbird, have plummeted since 2012.

"Evaluating the Success of Restoration: A Practitioner's Perspective"
Presented by Lorraine Parsons, Vegetation/Wetland Ecologist, PRNS, NPS

The waterbird results reflect one of the principal points of Lorraine Parsons' presentation, which discussed how the exponential growth often experienced by wetland restoration projects in their infancy is often not sustainable long-term. As more of the ecological niches opened up by conversion of pasture to marsh become inhabited by occupants, the rate of growth slows down, and the restored area can enter a period of dynamic equilibrium, with further change largely mediated by freshwater or tidal storm pulses/surges that rework the marsh environment. This phenomenon is discussed in more depth in Reflections on Restoration: 15 Years after Breaching of the Levees at Giacomini. Restoration project managers need to temper expectations with regards to post-restoration ecological trends, as well as to acknowledge that the current watershed context will highly influence the so-called endpoint—or, more realistically, transitional stages—of wetland evolution. For example, restored wetlands in highly invaded estuaries will likely end up supporting higher abundances of non-native species. Due to the altered nature of most watersheds, restoration managers cannot expect to conduct restoration and simply walk away: some type of long-term maintenance may be inevitable if the restoration project is to be successful.

 
Two individuals read from material on musical stands in front of an audience of about 50 people sitting outdoors.
AriDy Nox and friend read from The Wetlands.

© PRNSA

Staged Reading of The Wetlands

The 15th Anniversary's events culminated with a wetlands reading by AriDy Nox, who did a Staged Reading of their work, The Wetlands, at the Giacomini Mesa adjacent to Point Reyes Station. The Wetlands was inspired by many wetlands, including the Giacomini Wetlands. AriDy worked on the piece while they were a resident at the Mesa Refuge, a writers’ retreat in Point Reyes Station overlooking the Giacomini Wetlands. The reading focused on two Black femmes who are trying to escape from The Wetlands, a liminal space that is a combination of various wetlands they have lived in and worked at over the course of their lives. More than 70 people attended the reading, which was followed by a full moon walk at the wetlands.

 

Top of Page

Thanks

Special thanks to all of those who helped us here at the park to make this great event happen!

  • Sally Bolger
  • Point Reyes National Seashore Association (Heather Clapp, Donna Faure, Sam Chiriboga)
  • Onset Advisers
  • Lori Wynn and Barry Deutsch
  • Mary Anne Flett
  • John Dell'Osso
  • All of our wonderful speakers!
  • Organizations that helped to fund the bird monitoring:
    • Moore Foundation

Scientific papers that have been published so far.

Evens, J. 2020. Temporal response of California Black Rails to tidal wetland restoration. Western Birds 51:111–121, 2020. Available at https://doi.org/10.21199/WB51.2.4 (accessed 06 January 2024).

Kelly, J.P., and T.E. Condeso. 2017. Tidal marsh restoration stimulates the growth of winter shorebird populations in a temperate estuary. Restoration Ecology. 25:640–649. Available at https://doi.org/10.1111/rec.12487 (accessed 06 January 2024).

Parsons, L., L. Sanders, A. Ryan, and M. Reichmuth. 2015. Changes in the Food Web Linked to Restoration Effort Intensity and Watershed Conditions. Natural Resources. 6:344–362. Available at http://dx.doi.org/10.4236/nr.2015.65032 (accessed 06 January 2024).

Citations

Evens, J. 2023a. Giacomini Marsh Wetland Restoration Site Avian Monitoring Winter Season: 2022–2023, with notes on previous coverage. Report to Point Reyes National Seashore. November 3, 2023.

Top of Page

Last updated: January 8, 2024

Park footer

Contact Info

Mailing Address:

1 Bear Valley Road
Point Reyes Station, CA 94956

Phone:

415-464-5100
This number will initially be answered by an automated attendant, from which one can opt to access a name directory, listen to recorded information about the park (e.g., directions to the park; visitor center hours of operation; fire danger information; wildlife updates; ranger-led programs; seasonal events; etc.), or speak with a ranger. Please note that if you are calling between 4:30 pm and 10 am, park staff may not be available to answer your call.

Contact Us