Major Restoration Project to Boost Habitat, Flood Protection in Delta

October 16, 2018

Contact: John Cain, 510-388-8930

Amy Kober, 503-708-1145

Groundbreaking for the largest freshwater tidal marsh restoration project in California will begin tomorrow in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The Dutch Slough Tidal Marsh restoration project will restore and enhance nearly two square miles of habitat for fish and wildlife and provide new community parks and trails. The project is one of the first of several restoration projects planned by the state to restore fish and wildlife habitat in the Delta.

“This is the kind of large-scale effort we need to cope with rising sea levels, manage flood waters, and save endangered fish and wildlife,” said John Cain, Conservation Director for American Rivers. “This is one of the first of many multi-benefit flood management projects sponsored by the state to reduce flood risk, enhance recreational opportunities and restore habitat for fish and wildlife.”

The Dutch Slough project site was slated for residential development in the late 1990s. Up to 4,500 homes were permitted, despite the fact that most of the site is at or below sea level and the homes would have faced heightened flood risk. American Rivers Conservation Director John Cain persuaded the landowners to sell the site to the California Department of Water Resources to restore habitat for endangered species and help manage floodwaters.

The project will benefit a number of fish and wildlife species and help the region cope with rising sea levels. The project is specifically designed to provide nursery habitat for juvenile salmon that migrate through the Delta. Juvenile salmon that have plentiful food and habitat are far more likely to survive their journey to the Pacific Ocean and return as adults to their spawning grounds in the rivers of the Central Valley and Sierra Nevada. Sacramento splittail, another native fish that was once common in the Delta, use tidal marshes for spawning and rearing habitat.

“Most people assume that tidal marsh is a salt water environment, but the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta once supported more than 300,000 acres of freshwater tidal marsh,” said Cain. “One of the great benefits of this project is it will allow us to learn more about tidal marsh ecology and apply those lessons to other areas, maximizing our impact for endangered species.”

Like marine environments, the freshwater in the Delta fluctuates daily with the tides, but conversion of the historic marsh lands for agriculture in the 19th and early 20th century destroyed virtually all of this vast wetland.

Dutch Slough is on the Delta Shoreline at the mouth of Marsh Creek which drains the east side of Mt. Diablo.  The Dutch Slough project is the first of several projects planned to restore fresh and brackish marsh in the Delta.  Other freshwater tidal projects are planned for the Cache Slough, north of Rio Vista and the McCormick Williamson Project near Walnut Grove.

Improving shoreline access, educational, and recreational opportunities are some of the goals of the Dutch Slough project. When complete, the project will include a 55-acre community park at the end of Sellers Road, a non-motorized boat launch from the community park site, and six miles of new trail around large parts of the restoration site. These recreational amenities will not be completed for several years, but the public can view the restoration site today from the Marsh Creek trail.

Event information:

The groundbreaking will take place at 10:30am on Wednesday, October 17 at the Dutch Slough site at the end of Sellers Road.