A bucket loader pulled the last bit of earth from the dam in front of hundreds of guests Sunday afternoon in San Pablo Bay, releasing millions of gallons of sea water into an area that had previously been farmland. After 10 years of planning and raising $18 million, Sonoma Land Trust, in partnership with Ducks Unlimited and other groups, including the Long Foundation, breached the levee along the bay at Sears Point Ranch (located just south of the Highway 37/Lakeville Highway intersection on Reclamation Road) to allow salt water to fill the recently constructed 1,000-acre tidal marsh basin.
This area will begin to evolve to tidal marsh, much as it was 140 years ago before being diked off from the bay. DU Regional Biologist Renee Spent, as well as several elected officials, including Congressman Mike Thompson and California State Senator Lois Wolk, honored the occasion with speeches describing the work put in and efforts to return Sears Point to its natural state, which will eventually require the map of the Bay Area to be redrawn.
The land will be habitat for endangered and native species, capture carbons and filter pollutants and buffer state Highway 37 and railroad tracks from rising seas and storm surges as the result of climate changes.
A new 2.5-mile section of the San Francisco Bay Trail on top of the levee and a kayak ramp will open to the public in 2016.