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Goat Island Marsh Tidal Marsh Restoration & Interpretive Nature Trail

Project URL link
Sponsoring Agency Solano Land Trust
Subregions ('North Bay',)
Counties Solano
Watershed Tributary Suisun Marsh
Public or private land? ('Private',)
Location (lat/lon) 38.29963889, -122.16427778
Start Date 09/01/14
End Date 06/30/16
Location Description Rush Ranch Open Space Preserve. Suisun Marsh. Grizzly Island Road. Suisun City. Solano County. California.

The main project actions include lowering the perimeter levee, removing water control structures and creating an oversized channel. Additional actions include weed control and revegetation, expansion of existing ponded areas, and construction of a interpretive nature trail to offset loss of levee trail.

This project aims to restore tidal marsh habitat by reconnecting and reestablishing tidal marsh hydrology and related physical and ecological processes within and around Goat Island Marsh. This project will be implemented in conjunction with construction of an Interpretive Nature Trail to Goat Island Marsh to offset public access impacts resulting from closure of the levee trail.

Drinking Water Supply
Water Quality Improvement
Water Reuse/Recycling
Stormwater Improvements
Groundwater Benefits
Habitat Protection and Restoration
Flood Protection
WQ Improvement. Converts stagnant muted marsh to fully restored tidal marsh with daily tidal flushing. Habitat Restoration. Increases quantity and quality of tidal marsh habitat, restores connectivity with Hill Slough and Suisun Slough, and restores connectivity of Slough, marsh, terrestrial ecotone.
Not applicable.
Restores 80 acres of tidal marsh habitat consistent with the goals of the Suisun Marsh Plan and contributes to the restoration and enhancement of rare ecological aquatic and wetland habitats for federally endangered fish, wildlife, and plant species within their critical habitat.
Solano Land Trust could partner with: 1. the San Francisco Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve to scientifically monitor and evaluate project outcomes, 2. California Department of Fish and Game to monitor vegetation and wildlife response, coordinate on weed control, and coordinate on similar restoration projects on the adjacent DFG preserves (i.e. Hill Slough Wildlife Area), 3. Solano Resource Conservation District to enhance public access for environmental education programs for local middle and secondary schools. 4. Rush Ranch Educational Council to enhance public access for environmental education programs for local elementary schools.
The project sponsor is a nonprofit organization. We working partnership with our members, local community organizations, the local business community, philanthropic foundations, and local, state, and federal government agencies to leverage funding, technical support, and in-kind contributions to preserve, manage, and restore agricultural lands and natural areas in Solano County.
The interpretive nature trail and boardwalk will incorporate low impact design features to minimize impacts on the restored tidal marsh.

Part 2 - Detail

The purpose of the Goat Island Marsh Restoration Project is to reinitiate tidal flows to the site and to reestablish characteristic marsh feature (ponds, pannes and SAV areas) and vegetation. The main project actions include creating an oversized channel, lowering the perimeter levee, and expanding existing SAV ponds, active weed control and native species revegetation, and replacing the levee trail with an interpretive nature trail and boardwalk.


Restoration Features

      Tidal marsh restoration features (Figure 1.2)

·         Construction of Tidal Channel & Channel Bank High Marsh Habitat Excavate an oversized (larger than the theoretical equilibrium cross-section for the initial tidal prism) breach and main “trunk” channel sized to prevent tidal choking (constriction of tidal flow, restriction of the basin’s tidal prism). Use spoils from excavation to construct side cast ridges and actively revegetate these areas with competitive, native perennial high brackish marsh species to preempt rapid invasion of Lepidium latifolium, and actively remove pioneer (incipient) small colonies of L. latifolium until native vegetation establishes closed canopy cover.

·         Construction of Branch Channels. Improve or establish post-restoration circulation in the new channel via one of the following means:

o   If excavation of branch channels (channels branching from the main trunk channel) is cost-effective, then construct highly sinuous and irregular branch channels in selected areas of the subsided marsh plain, patterned after historical tidal channels or local reference channels.

o   If excavation/dredging is not cost effective, mow or macerate tule-cattail bulrush in existing subsided diked marsh channels.

·         Levee Lowering & Channel Bank Vegetation Enhancement.

o   Grade exterior levee to elevation not exceeding 1 ft above MHHW, or the maximum reference elevation of adjacent Rush Landing fringing high marsh (whichever is higher).

o   Cover recontoured levee with peat/mud "topsoils" excavated from weed free borrow pits in marsh plain.

o   Grade out levee thickets of Himalayan blackberry, placing spoils on the inboard side of the levees to widen the side slopes. The spoils should be placed at elevations such that blackberry roots/stems are completely submerged by daily tides (below MHHW) after restoration.

o   Remove Phragmites place as backfill in peat/mud borrow pits to submerge weed residue.

o   Salinize soils on the recontoured levee by irrigating with brackish water during first year post-construction and revegetate with native vegetation.

·         Expand pond/SAV areas within the marsh by mowing or macerating (using amphibious weed removal equipment) portions of the existing tule/cattail/bulrush marsh bordering the ponds at the mouth of the Suisun Hill Hollow drainage and the SE corner of Goat Island Marsh. The mowing/maceration will help to reduce the regeneration of tall emergent brackish marsh in these areas following tidal restoration.


Public Access & Environmental Education Features

This project element aims to enhance the educational experience of visitors to Rush Ranch by constructing an interpretive nature trail between the ranch headquarters and the proposed Goat Island Marsh restoration site. The interpretive nature trail is intended to provide high volume, low impact visitor access to the Goat Island Marsh restoration site and associated high marsh - grassland ecotone and ameliorate closure of a one mile portion of levee trail around Goat Island Marsh (Section 4.1).


Public access features include:

·         Nature Trail. Realignment of existing fence lines and footpaths between the preserve headquarters and Goat Island Marsh.

·         Boardwalks. Construction of a boardwalk, footbridge, wildlife viewing blind, water quality sampling station, interpretive signs, and gathering areas to facilitate instructional use and provide a safe and attractive visitor experience.

·         Interpretive Signage. Interpretive signs describing ecological features of the tidal marsh and high marsh- terrestrial ecotone, habitat restoration objectives and actions, and describing the importance of tidal wetlands conservation in Suisun Marsh and the San Francisco Bay Estuary.


Rush Ranch Management Plan and Restoration Designs

Suisun Marsh

The intact, gradual transition zone between tidal slough, marsh, and uplands at Rush Ranch is one of the most unique and ecologically important features of the preserve. Whereas tidal marshes are threatened with complete inundation throughout much of the SF Bay Estuary, the connectivity between marsh and terrestrial habitat at Rush Ranch provides the possibility for estuarine transgression, whereby marsh and transitional habitat can migrate upslope in response to sea level rise. Current estimates for the rate of sea level rise in the SF Bay estuary are predicted to be in the range of 26-55 inches by 2100, resulting in increasing water depth and in higher salinity. Climate change is also predicted to bring higher average temperatures and an increase in the severity of storms. In addition to sea level rise, Rush Ranch will be impacted by salinity intrusion as sea level rises throughout the Bay Area. Salinity intrusions will likely result in changes in the composition and structure of the plant community with cascading effects in throughout the food chain. While the ecological changes brought about by sea level rise and climate change are difficult to predict, the gradual transition zone at Rush Ranch presents one of the best opportunities for inward migration of marsh habitat, and also provides an excellent opportunity to monitor the effects of sea level rise and salinity intrusion as it occurs.

If the project does not occur, the site will continue to function at a low ecological level, with limited benefits to endangered species. The levee will deteriorate and the Marsh Trail will be closed. Eventually, unplanned inundation of the  wetland will occur, and the opportunity for  to establish site elevations suitable for sediment accretion and resilience in the face of climate change will be lost, resulting in a low-functioning tidal marsh with serious weed problems and no public access 20-30 years down the road. 

i. Water Supply (conservation, recycled water, groundwater recharge, surface storage, etc.)


ii. Water Quality

80 acres of stagnant muted marsh will be converted to daily tidal flushing over restored marsh habitat.

iii. Flood and Stormwater Management

Flood hazard on 1 mile of public access trail will be eliminated and replaced with a 0.5 mile interpretive nature trail and boardwalk providing a safer, more informative and higher quality user experience.

iv. Resource Stewardship (watershed management, habitat protection and restoration, recreation, open space, etc.)

80 acres of  tidal marsh and high marsh terrestrial habitat will be restroed to benefit Suisun thistle (Cirsium hydrophilum var. hydrophilum), soft bird’s beak (Cordylanthus mollis ssp mollis), salt marsh harvest mouse (Reithrodontomys raviventris), CA clapper rail (Rallus longirostris obsoletus), black rail (Laterallus jamaicensis), delta smelt (Hypomesus transpacificus) and longfin smelt (Spirinchus thaleichthys), and other rare and special status species.

Increases Water Supply Reliability
Advances/ Expands Conjunctive Management of Multiple Water Supply Sources
Increases Water Use and/or Reuse Efficiency
Provides Additional Water Supply
Promotes Water Quality Protection
Reduces Water Demand
Advances/Expands Water Recycling
Promotes Urban Runoff Reuse
Addresses Sea Level Rise
Addresses other Anticipated Climate Change Impact (e.g. through water management system modifications)
Improves Flood Control (e.g. through wetlands restoration, management, protection)
Promotes Habitat Protection
Establishes Migration Corridors
Re-establishes River-Floodplain Hydrologic Continuity
Re-introduces Anadromous Fish Populations to Upper Watersheds
Enhances and Protects Upper Watershed Forests and Meadow Systems
Other (Please Describe)
Increases Water Use Efficiency or Promotes Energy-Efficient Water Demand Reduction
Improves Water System Energy Efficiency
Advances/Expands Water Recycling
Promotes Urban Runoff Reuse
Promotes Use of Renewable Energy Sources
Contributes to Carbon Sequestration (e.g. through vegetation growth)
Other (Please Describe)
$1.0 million(low) - 3.0 million(high)
To be determined
10 years - $1m - $2.75m
Drought Preparedness
Use and Reuse Water More Efficiently
Climate Change Response Actions (Adaptation to Climate Change, Reduction of Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Reduce Energy Consumption)
Expand Environmental Stewardship
Practice Integrated Flood Management
Protect Surface and Groundwater Quality
Improve Tribal Water and Natural Resources
Ensure Equitable Distribution of Benefits
Reduce Reliance on the Bay-Delta
Reduce Water Demand
Improved Operational Efficiency and Transfers
Increase Water Supply
Improve Water Quality
Improve Flood Management
Practice Resources Stewardship
Other Strategies (Please Describe)
Groundwater Management Plan
Urban Water Management Plan
Water Meter Requirements
Groundwater Monitoring Requirements
AB 1420 Compliance
BMP Compliance
CEQA Compliance
Water supply reliability, water conservation and water use efficiency
Stormwater capture, storage, clean-up, treatment, and management
Removal of invasive non-native species, the creation and enhancement of wetlands, and the acquisition, protection, and restoration of open space and watershed lands
Non-point source pollution reduction, management and monitoring
Groundwater recharge and management projects
Contaminant and salt removal through reclamation, desalting, and other treatment technologies and conveyance of reclaimed water for distribution to users
Water banking, exchange, reclamation and improvement of water quality
Planning and implementation of multipurpose flood management programs
Watershed protection and management
Drinking water treatment and distribution
Ecosystem and fisheries restoration and protection
Reduced Reliance on the Bay-Delta
Projects that directly address a critical water quality or supply issue in a DAC
Urban water suppliers implementing certain BMPs as on page 17 of Guidelines
Be designed to manage stormwater runoff to reduce flood damage (PRC §5096.827)
Be consistent with the applicable Regional Water Quality Control Plans (Basin Plans) (PRC §5096.827)
Not be a part of the State Plan of Flood Control (SPFC) (PRC §5096.827)

Project team

Part 3 - Benefits

BA IRWMP Goat Island Marsh Submitted 2012 0906.xlsx — ZIP archive, 212Kb