Ducks Unlimited was honored last week to take part in a meet-and-greet at the Sears Point Restoration Project with Dr. Kathryn Sullivan, NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) Administrator and Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere, and John Laird, California Secretary for Natural Resources, as well as several other dignitaries who toured the site and were given updates on the progress of the area.
The Sears Point Project in San Pablo Bay, which capped off in October of 2015 with a spectacular breech event, is gaining notoriety around the county for its design and implementation as the site returns to tidal marsh. Ducks Unlimited played a critical role in the project, along with the Sonoma Land Trust and several other partners, which took 10 years of planning and $18 million in raised funds.
“Thanks to all the folks who made this possible,” said Dr. Sullivan, a former astronaut who is credited as the first American woman to perform a spacewalk. “Sonoma Land Trust was the anchor player of this relay to get the project started and to stay with it and make sure it kept moving by passing the baton to the fine folks at Ducks Unlimited. We couldn’t be happier as NOAA to be a part of this with all of you. Especially to the Land Trust and Ducks Unlimited, who played a great, great role.”
Jeff McCreary, Ducks Unlimited’s Director of Conservation Programs for the Western Region and Renee Spenst, DU’s lead biologist on the project, both met with Dr. Sullivan and Secretary Laird to describe the specific work done at Sear’s Point, which was cut off from the San Francisco Bay over a century ago and used for farming.
“I was raised in the next city over from Sear’s Point and my grandparents lived in Sonoma, so I came through here for many years when nothing was done in this location—it was just bleak,” said Secretary Laird. “It is really exciting to see the progress. When combined with the work done nearby at the Napa River and Cullinan Ranch and start to go around the Bay, it’s pretty monumental.”
Once fully established, the new tidal marsh will enhance the entire bay ecosystem, and will offer significant benefits such as the provision of key habitat for endangered and native species, the capture and sequestering of carbon, the filtration of pollutants, and protection of infrastructure from the rising seas and storm surges expected as a result of climate change. Additionally, a new 2.5-mile-long section of the San Francisco Bay Trail on top of the new levee, will provide some of the best access to the Bay in Sonoma County.