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Sears Point Restoration Project

Project URL link
Sponsoring Agency Sonoma Land Trust
Subregions ('North Bay',)
Counties Sonoma
Watershed Tributary San Pablo Bay
Public or private land? ('Private',)
Location (lat/lon) 38.1308563, -122.466179
Start Date 10/15/2012
End Date 12/31/2015
Location Description Southern Sonoma County, San Pablo Bay, between Petaluma River and Tolay Creek
Sears Point Restoration Project

The 2,327-acre Sears Point Restoration Project will restore 955 acres of tidal marsh, enhance seasonal wetlands, increase flood protection, and greatly expand public access to the Bay shoreline.

The Sonoma Land Trust's 2,327-acre Sears Point Restoration Project is located on the northern shore of San Pablo Bay in Sonoma County.  Major project objectives include restoration of 955 acres of tidal marsh, enhancement of seasonal wetlands and grasslands across 1,300 acres of diked agricultural baylands and uplands, and increased public access.  Construction of a new 2.5-mile levee will provide transitional marsh/upland habitat, a new section of the Bay Trail, and greatly increased flood protection for State Highway 37 and the SMART railroad line.    



Drinking Water Supply
Water Quality Improvement
Water Reuse/Recycling
Stormwater Improvements
Groundwater Benefits
Habitat Protection and Restoration
Flood Protection
Restored tidal and seasonal wetlands will provide a filtering function to stormwater runoff entering the bay. The wetland and upland restoration will increase the habitat available to numerous threaten and endangered species as well as common species. A new 2.5-mile levee and stormwater pumps will protect Highway 37, the SMART railroad, and other lands from both saltwater and stormwater flooding.
This project is consistent with all county zoning while providing flood protection and habitat restoration.
Ecosystem Restoration, Environmental and habitat protection and improvement, Flood management, Land use planning, NPS pollution control, Recreation and public access, Storm water capture and management, Surface storage, Water quality protection and improvement, Watershed planning, Wetlands enhancement and creation
Watershed Management-Habitat Protection & Restoration

Part 2 - Detail

In 2005 the Sonoma Land Trust (SLT) acquired the 2,327-acre Sears Point property, a vital link along the northern San Pablo Bay shoreline connecting nearly five miles of protected and restored tidal marsh habitat from the Petaluma River to Tolay Creek.  Unique among nearly all shoreline conservation properties, Sears Point extends deep into the adjacent uplands reaching elevations of nearly 400 feet.  Some nine miles of riparian corridors traverse its grasslands, willow groves, and broad plains of seasonal wetlands to connect upland to Bay.  Slated for casino development prior to SLT’s acquisition, Sears Point is protected in perpetuity offering an unparalleled opportunity for landscape-scale restoration of multiple habitats in the North Bay.  Over the next several years SLT will restore 955 acres of tidal marsh and nearly 1,350 acres of associated ecotonal seasonal wetlands, riparian corridors, and upland grasslands.  New stormwater pumps and a 2.5-mile flood protection levee will provide increased flood protection to State Highway 37, the SMART railroad, and public and private lands.   Gradual slopes on the levee's outer edge will enable creation of 23 acres of transitional marsh-upland habitat and a new 2.5-mile segment of the Bay Trail will be built on the levee crest. 


Sears Point Wetland and Watershed Restoration Project Final Preliminary Plan (


Sears Point Wetland and Watershed Restoration Project Final Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement 




Petaluma River

Tolay Creek 

San Pablo Bay

Over 80% of the tidal marshes and 70% of seasonal wetlands surrounding the San Francisco Bay Estuary have been lost over the past 150 years.  Intact tidal marshes provide vital ecosystem services including habitat, stormwater filtration, carbon sequestration, and a buffer against tidal surge.  The new flood control levee and stormwater pumps will provide increased flood protection to public (Highway 37) and private infrastructure on subsided lands.  As seas level rises, all of the project's actions will continue to grow in importance.  

The existing 5-mile flood control levee was built more than 100 years ago and has been patched and repaired through the decades.  A catastrophic failure is imminent.  

Failure to restore tidal marsh will hinder the ability to recover endangered species such as the California clapper rail and the salt marsh harvest mouse.  

Restoration of tidal marshes is critical to protecting people and infrastructure in the face of sea level rise in which oceans and tidal surges are predicted to rise substantially. 

Water Quality Improvement: At Sears Point the primary sources of polluted runoff are from Highway 37 and agricultural fields.  Because the lands are subsided, runoff pools on the landward side of the levee and is then pumped to the Bay.  While there is a small strip marsh on the outside of the levee, the new marsh will be nearly 1,000 acres and will greatly increase the filtering ability of the strip marsh.  Additionally, with the restoration and enhancement of seasonal wetlands, riparian drainages, and grasslands, much of the stormwater that formerly drained from the watershed as sheet flow will slow and infiltrate into the uplands.   
Habitat Protection and Restoration: Nearly 1,000 acres of estuarine habitat will be restored.  Eventually it will be almost entirely composed of tidal marsh, a habitat type that has been reduced by more than 80% around the SF Bay Estuary.  This land is protected in perpetuity and will be transferred to the CA Department of Fish and Game after it is restored.  Roughly 500 acres adjacent to the new tidal marsh will be transferred to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for incorporation into the San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Seasonal wetlands will be enhanced across this acreage. The remaining 900 acres of upland grasslands will remain protected by Sonoma Land Trust.   
Flood Protection: Construction of the 2.5-mile levee will provide superior flood protection for State Highway 37, the SMART railroad track a, and surrounding lands.  The levee will serve not only to hold back the bay but also will be provide nearly 23 acres of transitional marsh-upland habitat on its gradual 10:1 to 20:1 outboard slopes.  This habitat is vital refuge for marsh species during the highest spring tides and during storm surges.  Additionally, the Bay Trail will be built along the crest of the levee providing Sonoma County's premiere public access point to the Bay. 

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)
$16,500,000(low) - $18,000,000(high)
multiple state and federal
California Depratment of Fish and Game and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Marsh is expected to persist well into the future. Levee has 50 year anticipated life.
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)

SLT will construct a 2.5-mile trail.

SLT surveyed all cultural resources to ensure no impacts.

Through proper and management, restoration of tidal marsh and riparian vegetation, installation of cattle exclusionary fencing, and enhancement of seasonal wetlands SLT is rehabilitating natural watershed processes. These include improving infiltration, reducing erosion, increasing filtration of pollutants, and providing habitat.  Tidal marsh provides habitat for many species and will contribute to the recovery of CA clapper rail, salt marsh harvest mouse, black rail, and other species.






Project team

Part 3 - Benefits

BAIRWMP_SearsPt_cost_benefit.xlsx — ZIP archive, 178Kb