Horseshoe Pond Restoration Project

A pond on the left side of a grassy and sandy area with white-capped waves in a bay on the right. A pond on the left side of a grassy and sandy area with white-capped waves in a bay on the right.

Left image
Horseshoe Pond on September 27, 2001, before the removal of the dam.
Credit: NPS Photo

Right image
Horseshoe Lagoon on February 14, 2006, after the removal of the dam.
Credit: NPS Photo


In 2004, Point Reyes National Seashore proposed the restoration of natural hydrologic and shoreline process to the Horseshoe Pond area of the historic D-Ranch. Horseshoe Pond is a former 35-acre coastal lagoon situated on the north side of Drakes Beach between the Ken Patrick Visitor’s Center and the mouth of Drakes Estero. For hundreds of years, the Horseshoe Pond area functioned as a lagoon, controlled by the sand-dominated outlet to the west side of the beach interface. Horseshoe Pond was constructed as a road access to the hunting blind at the mouth of Drakes Estero in the late 1940s by filling across the sandy beach lagoon interface with upland fill. The facility has undergone major maintenance and modification since construction, including realignment in the 1970s and the installation of a cement spillway in the late 1980s.

The pond was part of the D-Ranch dairy operation acting as a water source and ultimate destination for much of the dairy waste. Constant maintenance of the dam facility was required as high seas constantly eroded and breached the dam facility. The pond breached in January 2002. The brackish waterbody was heavily influenced by tidal overwash into the pond area, as well as freshwater runoff. The configuration of the remaining dam structure prevented natural shoreline and hydrologic process from occurring at the site.

The objectives of the Horseshoe Pond Restoration Project were:

  1. To restore natural hydrologic and coastal beach processes to the site,
  2. Accelerate improvements to water quality in Horseshoe Pond towards stabilizing dissolved oxygen levels within normal range to improve the quality of the habitat for aquatic species.
  3. To restore native dune function and habitat,
  4. To protect stability of archaeological resource site of CA-MRN-394/H, and
  5. To return the pond vicinity to a more natural appearing state by removing prominent evidence of construction.

This EA evaluates the potential environmental consequences of three alternative strategies for implementing the Horseshoe Pond Project.

Environmental Assessment

Environmental Assessment - June 21, 2004 (1,059 KB PDF)
Environmental Assessment Figures - June 21, 2004 (3,253 KB PDF)

Technical Background Reports

Delineation of Potential Jurisdictional Wetlands and Water of the United States prepared for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers- July 2002 (1,202 KB PDF)

Appendix A: Map (2,199 KB PDF)

Botanical Survey Report - May 17, 2002 (1,344 KB PDF)

Red-legged Frog Surveys at Horseshoe Pond - May 15, 2002 (365 KB PDF)

Wetland Delineation Report based on U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Cowardin Wetland Classification System - February 2002 (1,960 KB PDF)

Adobe® Acrobat Reader® needed to view PDF documents.

Top of Page

Last updated: February 5, 2024

Park footer

Contact Info

Mailing Address:

1 Bear Valley Road
Point Reyes Station, CA 94956


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