Restoring Vital Marsh Habitat in San Francisco Bay
In San Francisco, kids have been taught to be the champions to restore vital marsh habitat on islands in the Bay. K-12 students from Marin County partnered with adult volunteers to restore 12 acres of salt marsh, a vital native habitat that has been choked by invasive plants and is in increasingly limited supply.
The Toyota TogetherGreen Innovation Grant allowed the Richardson Bay Audubon Center & Sanctuary to mobilize the community towards creating a biologically productive ecosystem that once again functions as a wetland that can protect nearby landowners against severe weather. It also serves as a unique learning experience for the hundreds of students and community members involved.
The three islands to benefit from the volunteer effort were created from dredge spoils in the 1960s. They provided an important refuge and resting place for birds during the 2007 Cosco-Busan oil spill in San Francisco Bay. The largest of the three, Aramburu, was 60% covered by invasive plants, which were keeping out important members of the marsh community, such as the federally endangered California clapper rail, as well as mammals like the Salt Marsh Harvest Mouse. Richardson Bay volunteers removed much of the invasive vegetation, and worked with students to propagate native salt marsh plant seedlings in a nursery before transplanting them on the islands.
With the help of the local community, the saltwater marsh islands are again become home to the important species that once thrived there. This means they can get back to doing what they do best - serving their wetland function of maintaining water levels and filtering and purifying one of the country’s iconic water sources.