PROJECT UPDATE: Sherman Island Whale’s Mouth Restoration Project

Shermans Island2 California Department of Water Resource-owned property on Sherman Island, which resembles a humpback whale from air, is under construction this summer. Ducks Unlimited, in partnership with DWR, designed and permitted the 600-plus
acre semi-permanent wetland. The purpose of this project is to accrete new soil material and provide wildlife and water quality benefits to the region.

Those who travel across the Antioch Bridge and look to the northwest may see bulldozers and scrapers forming the swales and potholes, habitat island and containment berms that will, once flooded, support wetland conditions. Once established, vegetation such as round stem bulrush and cattails (tules) that comprise waterfowl brood-rearing habitat, will convert atmospheric carbon to organic soil, slowly raising the land surface elevation.

Sherman Island, once a freshwater tidal wetland, was diked off in the late 1800’s, and through oxidation, fires, and wind erosion has subsided to more than 19-feet below sea level. After the initial flood up, the project will have a net reduction of water diversion when compared to the previous irrigation agricultural practices, resulting in increased waterfowl breeding and loafing habitat and reduced demand on fresh water flows. Planning for Sherman Island Phase II is underway and will create over 1,200 acres of waterfowl breading and wintering habitat. Construction is estimated to be Summer 2017.