The Eden Landing Project, near Hayward, California, employs intensive management to balance tidal restoration with continued support for waterbirds reliant on open water habitats. Development and encroachment has consumed 95 percent of the San Francisco Bay’s tidal marshes over the last century and the 15,100-acre South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project (SBSPRP) seeks to substantially turn the tide on that trend by restoring thousands of acres of estuarine habitat while balancing the needs of salt pond dependent species.
A key factor in restoring tidal marsh is maintaining populations of waterbirds that came to rely on salt production ponds as primary migratory and overwintering habitat. To address this need, a minimum of 1,600 acres of former salt ponds will be reconfigured and enhanced to provide habitat for a variety of waterbirds, including shorebirds and waterfowl. Habitat enhancements include construction of shallow foraging mounds, gentle swales, and nesting islands. Nesting island construction is being informed by test islands constructed two years ago with experimental toppings, such as oyster shells, gravel, and lime amendments to ensure that habitat islands do not have cracks. At another site, islands constructed of bay mud alone resulted in cracks that were obstacles to chick movement, and resulted in chick mortality in some cases. All of these niche habitat improvements are designed to optimize foraging and roosting habitat within a smaller footprint, and to influence future restoration actions. Construction has just been completed and waterbird response is already evident. Monitoring of bird use of specific salinities and water depths will guide construction parameters of future ponds.
Ducks Unlimited staff have worked closely with the landowner, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the SBSPRP, and have provided grant writing, design review, project management, construction oversight, environmental compliance monitoring, interpretive planning, and waterbird monitoring.
Located along the Hayward Shoreline of South San Francisco Bay, the Eden Landing Ecological Reserve is highly visible and easily accessible to 11 million people. It has an active hunt program, and fishing access is coming soon. Construction of this project adds: an Universally accessible 3.8-mile loop trail on the perimeter levee around Ponds E12/E13 (portion closed seasonally) with a spur trail to the Shoreline viewing area, three viewing areas (the Shoreline viewing area next to the recently restored Pond E9 breach, Archimedes Screw overlook, and history Oliver Saltworks viewing area), interpretive panels with environmental and historic themes to enhances visitors’ experiences, and a universally-accessible public kayak launch facility on Mt. Eden Creek with a paired restricted access ramp for powered craft used for limited waterfowl hunting, management and monitoring activities.