Restoration of Bair Island’s wetlands set for final approval

Starting next year, wildlife officials hope to transform Bair Island into an “island in an urban sea” where locals can escape city life and freeway noise and explore the 1,400-acre area’s restored wetlands habitats.

A lengthy public review of the restoration’s environmental effects ends today as the California Department of Fish and Game closes the comment period on the plan’s final draft. While an initial public review in 2004 yielded many changes, such as shortening the public trail from 2.7 miles to 1.8 miles, increasing the parking lot to allow school buses and allowing on-leash dogs for a trial period, the final plan received primarily congratulations this month, according to refuge Manager Clyde Morris.

Crews could begin to breach outer Bair Island in 2007 to restore the region’s natural tidal wetlands, according Morris. Restoration of two sloughs and the addition of wildlife-viewing areas are also in the offing.

“You won’t hear the freeway noise anymore,” Morris said. “It will be an island of peacefulness and wildlife.”

However, funding for the $6 million to $10 million restoration plan has not been secured. Aides for Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, and Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, have closely followed Fish and Game’s discussions with the Redwood City Council Bair Island subcommittee, according to Redwood City Vice Mayor Rosanne Foust.

“They’re asking for information so they know how to … get it into the appropriate bills,” Foust said.

Much of the work is designed to return Bair Island to its natural state, which in the short term will absorb excess floodwaters and protect nearby neighborhoods, according to John Bradley, deputy project leader with the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge. It also aims to provide a more native habitat for local species like the clapper rail and the salt marsh harvest mouse — and to regularly flush the area’s wetlands with Bay water, diminishing breeding grounds for mosquitoes, Morris said.

In recent months, volunteers have worked to remove non-native cord grass and ice plant while Fish and Game experimented with a plan to shore up sunken sections of the island with silt dredged from the Port of Redwood City. Eventually, all of those sections will be filled with dredged silt, protecting waterbirds from being drawn to the area and then having deadly encounters with aircraft from neighboring San Carlos Airport.

bwinegarner@examiner.com

Bay Area NewsLocal

Just Posted

The fate of San Francisco nicotine giant Juul remains to be seen, as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is reviewing whether to allow certain flavored vape products on the market. <ins>(Jeenah Moon/New York Times)</ins>
How the vape king of teen nicotine addiction rose and fell in San Francisco

‘Hey, Juul, don’t let the door hit you on the way out’

Cabernet sauvignon grapes sat in a container after being crushed at Smith-Madrone Winery in St. Helena. (Courtesy Smith-Madrone Winery)
San Francisco’s ‘Champagne problems’ — Wine industry suffers supply chain woes

‘Everywhere you turn, things that were easy are no longer easy’

Glasses behind the bar at LUNA in the Mission District on Friday, Oct. 15, 2021. Glassware is just one of the many things restaurants have had trouble keeping in stock as supply chain problems ripple outward. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
SF restaurants face product shortages and skyrocketing costs

‘The supply chain crisis has impacted us in almost every way imaginable’

A Giants fans hangs his head in disbelief after the Dodgers won the NLDS in a controversial finish to a tight Game 5. (Chris Victorio/Special to The Examiner)
Giants dream season ends at the hands of the Dodgers, 2-1

A masterful game comes down to the bottom of the ninth, and San Francisco came up short

<strong>Workers with Urban Alchemy and the Downtown Streets Team clean at Seventh and Market streets on Oct. 12. <ins>(Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)</ins> </strong>
<ins></ins>
Why is it so hard to keep San Francisco’s streets clean?

Some blame bureaucracy, others say it’s the residents’ fault

Most Read