Sears Point Restoration Project
|Sponsoring Agency||Sonoma Land Trust|
|Watershed Tributary||San Pablo Bay|
|Public or private land?||('Private',)|
|Location (lat/lon)||38.1308563, -122.466179|
|Location Description||Southern Sonoma County, San Pablo Bay, between Petaluma River and Tolay Creek|
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.
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 (http://www.sonomalandtrust.org/publications/plans_reports.html)
Sears Point Wetland and Watershed Restoration Project Final Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement
San Pablo Bay
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.
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.