Guests gathered under grey skies on Friday (5/6/2016) morning at Eden Landing Ecological Reserve in Hayward to celebrate the official grand opening of Phase I of the South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project, which includes a new kayak launch, extensive trails and enhanced wildlife habitat. California Secretary for Natural Resources John Laird was one of several speakers to highlight the collaborative effort used to push the project to completion, in which Ducks Unlimited was responsible for the design and management.
“Ducks Unlimited has become the expert in managing projects like this in the Bay Area,” remarked California Coastal Commision Executive Officer Sam Schuchat to the crowd just prior to the ribbon cutting opening the launch and trails.
The opening at ponds E12-13 marks the completion of the first phase of construction for the 50-year South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project. The Project, a collaborative of several agencies, aims to restore more than 15,000 acres of South San Francisco Bay wetlands while adding public access and improving flood protection.
According to the San Jose Mercury News, this project represents the largest public access work anywhere in the former salt pond areas since the purchase 13 years ago.
“We’re not just trying to bring the bay back to the people. We’re trying to bring the people back to the bay,” said John Bourgeois, project manager with the California Coastal Conservancy, a state agency overseeing the South Bay Salt Restoration Project.
Work on the area, located half a mile south of the San Mateo Bridge, began three years ago. Two large areas known as ponds E12 and E13 — once white, dry, salt-encrusted moonscapes for much of the year — have been restored as habitat for a wide variety of shorebirds, including avocets, stilts and endangered snowy plovers.