Heron’s Head Park Shoreline Resilience Project: Phases 1 and 2

Port of San Francisco
Phases 1 and 2
Herons Head photos
Grant Amount:

$297,000 for Phase 1 authorized in July 2020, $796,100 for Phase 2 authorized in October 2022

Location:

City and County of San Francisco; Measure AA Region: West Bay

Project Phases Funded by this Grant:

Phases 1 and 2

Measure AA Program Category:

Fish, Bird and Wildlife Habitat Program; Shoreline Public Access Program.

Summary:

The Heron’s Head Park Shoreline Resilience Project consists of restoring and enhancing wetlands and upland habitat along the Bay shoreline in Bayview Hunters Point to stabilize the shoreline and improve habitat.

The overall project will provide beneficial native habitat enhancement improvements to an urban shoreline park in the Bayview Hunters Point neighborhood, a diverse and economically disadvantaged community in southeast San Francisco. In addition to the habitat enhancement benefits, the project includes community engagement, local job training in green infrastructure activities, and workforce development.

To achieve the goals of the project, during Phase I, the Port and Literacy for Environmental Justice (LEJ) will hire a team of four “Eco-Apprentices” and an experienced crew leader. The Eco-Apprentices will be low income transitional age youth (18-25 years old) with a passion for conservation, habitat restoration, and community engagement. Leveraging long-standing connections with San Francisco government agencies, environmental stewardship groups, schools, and youth-serving organizations active in southeast San Francisco, LEJ will recruit young residents of the Bayview Hunters Point community to be Eco-Apprentices on the Heron’s Head Park Shoreline Resilience Project crew. These youth will be trained by LEJ and by researchers from San Francisco State University’s Estuary and Ocean Science (EOS) Center in bay ecology, invasive weed control, native plant propagation and outplantings, and project monitoring.

During the first year of Phase I of the project, preliminary methods for weed control and plantings will occur in two test plots. This area is impacted by the invasive Algerian sea lavender which can degrade habitat values and reduce biodiversity. The test plots will enable the project team to refine planting plans with respect to native species representation and placement by soil type and marsh elevation. At the end of this assessment of the test plots, LEJ will use insights gained from test plantings to strategically propagate and plant approximately an additional 22,700 marsh plants grown over 20,000 – 30,000 square feet of intertidal zone. Habitat stewardship during this phase will include manual removal of invasive species and strategic replacement of native plants in cleared areas.

The Authority authorized a grant of $796,100 to the Port of San Francisco for Phase Two of the project in October 2022.  Phase 2 consists of ten years of postconstruction monitoring and reporting on project performance.  Monitoring and reporting on the performance of the project is particularly important given its innovative nature-based design, which was developed in collaboration with staff of the Authority and the Bay Restoration Regulatory Integration Team (BRRIT). The design deviates from traditional shoreline armoring structures that disrupt natural processes. Instead, it implements nature-based solutions, which use natural and/or constructed materials to mimic natural features that stabilize and restore the ecological functions of the shoreline. The project will place coarse sediment to create beaches at the bayward edge of the marshes, and use additional structures, such as rock groynes, large woody debris, and subtidal oyster reef balls, to protect and enhance shoreline habitat. This concept is being tested in several locations around San Francisco Bay. This project will provide information that will be useful to the Regionally Advancing Living Shorelines Project, a collaborative effort funded by the Authority in June 2022, in which the Port is one of the key landowners.

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