Sonoma Creek Baylands Strategy
Lower Sonoma Creek, Sonoma County, North Bay Region
Vital Fish, Bird and Wildlife Habitat Program; Integrated Flood Protection Program; Shoreline Public Access Program
This project funded Sonoma Land Trust (SLT) to develop a strategy for landscape-scale restoration, flood protection and public access in the Lower Sonoma Creek portion of the San Pablo Baylands.
The Strategy provides guidance in achieving the core goal of the "Recovery Plan for Tidal Marsh Ecosystems of Northern and Central California" (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service): comprehensive restoration and management of tidal marsh ecosystems to lead to the delisting of the listed species in the plan, such as the salt marsh harvest mouse and Ridgway’s rail. It also ensures that wetland restoration projects are designed from the start to provide flood management and public access benefits.
The Strategy was needed because multiple opportunities exist to accomplish large-scale restoration on properties owned by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, as well as through new acquisitions. Funding for acquisition and restoration is limited and priorities must be developed with an emphasis on understanding how restoration of one parcel might affect another, particularly with respect to the existing constraints of flooding and salt water intrusion, reduced availability of sediment, public infrastructure such as State Route (SR) 37 and the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART) railroad, and sea level rise. The Strategy will allow SLT to accelerate current land protection and habitat restoration projects in the area.
Community input was essential to the development of the Strategy. The Sonoma Creek Baylands community is in an unincorporated area of Sonoma County that is disproportionately exposed to the environmental hazards associated with sea level rise and impacts of upstream development. SLT conducted one-on-one outreach and worked extensively through networking and word of mouth.