The rocky shoreline at Heron’s Head Park is eroding rapidly, according to Port officials. (Samantha Laurey/ Special to S.F. Examiner)

Project to restore vegetation, eroding shoreline at Heron’s Head Park

Open space on Port land known for rich bird and wildlife habitat

The shoreline of Heron’s Head Park, a spit of land north of Hunters Point that reaches out into the India Basin, has undergone significant erosion over the past 20 years, retreating up to 50 feet compared to 1999 in some areas.

The 22-acre open space, maintained by the Port of San Francisco, is known for abundant birds and wildlife. However, it is now under threat.

“One of the tidal ponds is consistently flooded rather than tidally flushed, which is essentially returning what was once pond habitat to open Bay water,” Carol Bach, environmental affairs manager for the Port, told the Port Commission earlier this month. “Without protecting the shoreline from erosion, Heron’s Head Park is expected to lose approximately two more acres over the next 30 years.”

A Great Blue Heron stands in the water of San Francisco Bay at Heron’s Head Park. (Samantha Laurey/ Special to S.F. Examiner)

The park’s wetland plant habitat — the basis of the wetland’s ecological function — has also decreased in size due to erosion, and lost habitat value due to an invasion of non-native plant species.

“Now, Heron’s Head Park needs protection, maintenance and stewardship,” Bach continued.

As part of a larger project to stabilize the shoreline, the Port has received a grant for nearly $300,000 toward a revegetation project from the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority Grant.

The funding, which was accepted by the Port Commission on Tuesday, is intended to support the first phase of revegetation over a two-year period, and will be conducted with the San Francisco-based nonprofit Literacy for Environmental Justice.

An egret wades in the water. (Samantha Laurey/ Special to S.F. Examiner)

The Bay Restoration Authority has also recommended an award of nearly half a million dollars for the second phase of the wetland revegetation, which Port officials are expecting to receive to support their three-year revegetation plan, as well as another of 300,000 for monitoring after the project is completed.

The revegetation of the park is part of a larger project, which is expected to cost about $3.5 million in all. The Port is working to raise nearly $2.5 million to stabilize the shoreline.

The overall project will create a coastal edge made of natural materials such as plants, sand or rock, construct a sand and gravel beach and install oyster reef balls, which Bach said are fabricated from ecologically-friendly concrete mixed with materials such as sand and gravel.

Cranes are visible from Heron’s Head Park. (Samantha Laurey/ Special to S.F. Examiner)

The Port plans to monitor the shoreline for five years after construction is completed.

The first phase of revegetating the park will begin in the fall of 2020 and continue through fall 2022. Bach said the Port will begin collecting seeds, growing plants, and set out the plants in the park.

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A Great Blue Heron stands in the water of San Francisco Bay. (Samantha Laurey/ Special to S.F. Examiner)

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