Wetlands provide essential services for people and wildlife alike, including food, flood protection, improved water quality and carbon sequestration. Up to 90% of the San Francisco Bay’s tidal marshes have been converted or destroyed since 1850, so it is critical that we protect and restore more of these tidal wetland areas and adjacent habitat buffers so they can, once again, hold back water and reduce the amount of waves and erosion from floods and sea level rise.
Once a vibrant region of wetlands and marshes, the baylands of San Pablo Bay represent one of the most altered estuaries in the world. People and infrastructure in the nearby towns of Petaluma, Sonoma and Schellville are susceptible to sea level rise and flooding. Reestablishing the historic wetlands will greatly benefit the area; however, that requires that we work around the highways, rail lines, homes and businesses in the region.
We are increasing the pace of our work in the baylands region to mitigate the impacts of flooding from sea level rise and intense storms. Tidal marshes act like sponges, reducing the amount of waves and water generated by high-tide events and flooding, and providing habitat for birds, small mammals, fish and plants. People who live in nearby towns and drivers along Highway 37, will directly benefit from increasing the quantity of restored marshland in the region. Our goal is to acquire, restore and enhance up to 10,000 acres of tidal marsh habitat in the San Pablo Baylands by 2030.
According to the EPA, wetlands are among the most productive ecosystems in the world, comparable to rainforests and coral reefs. We have challenged ourselves with an ambitious goal of restoring a connected, resilient and accessible landscape across the San Pablo Baylands by 2030. We are focused on acquiring and restoring key properties in two watersheds, Sonoma Creek (red outline on map) and the Petaluma River (orange outline on map).
We are partnering with scientists to complete an adaptive management project at Sears Point and begin restoring Lakeville Creek. This work will reconnect watersheds from the uplands to the bay.
Highway 37 crosses the marsh from Novato to Vallejo and suffers from constant congestion and flooding. By the end of the century, this roadway system will be under water. During the last levee failure, elected officials and the SMART team prioritized the highway’s redesign process. We are partnering with them to redesign Highway 37 in a way that ensures the new highway will benefit from conservation and restoration goals.