Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Sear's Point Bayland Field Trip By Sarina Healey, Kelly Kehoe, and Chelsea Garbarino

On October 3rd, 2014 the restoration ecology students at Sonoma State went to the Sear's Point Baylands located by the San Pablo Bay off of Highway 37. Julian Meisler, the Baylands program manager showed us around the site and explained what the restoration project was and how much progress they have made so far.
Old ranch building now renovated

In 2005 the Sonoma Land Trust obtained Sears Point, which is 2,327 acres. The site was originally an old ranch building which was renovated and completed in 2011. It was constructed by an architect from San Francisco for free, and made of reclaimed barn wood.It was supposed to be the location of our newest entertainment the Graton Casino! However the land was previously a tidal marsh and it was determined to be an unfit location by consultants and the Native American tribe.

Currently, Julian is working on the Sear's Point wetland and watershed restoration project, where he is trying to obtain 1000 acres to return to the tidal marsh. He will also be working closely with the agricultural workers and establish good relationships with them. The area is dominated with Italian vine grass, and they hope the farmers will help to desiccate the grass. 

Julian Meisler and classmate Vita holding a map of the Baylands

This photo is showing the storm water pump to help keep the water clear. The pumps are quite expensive running approximately $700,000 and they can pump 11,000 gallons per minute.

Other key components of the Sears Point wetland and watershed restoration project is to bring back species and open up the Baylands as a trail for public use. Julian talked to us about recreating habitat for the California red legged frog, as there are already some present in the watershed. He hopes to eventually establish breeding grounds and colonize the area for them.
California red legged frog. We hope to see more in the Baylands!

Classmate Amanda holding Pickleweed!
Lastly, we learned that the Baylands needed sediment to be brought in to increase elevation levels, but now the sediment has a deficit due to sea level rise. The increase in sediment has caused dominant plants such as pickle weed and cord grass to grow If sea level rises too quickly, it won't be considered a marsh and will be a levy. Julian and his team members will be working on how to mitigate these potential environmental changes and we hope to see the Baylands project complete in upcoming years!

We end our blog with some miscellaneous pictures from the field trip, such as the salt marshes some of the grass fields, etc!

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