It’s already been more than six years since a 285-foot-wide breach allowed salt water to fill a 1,000-acre tidal marsh basin for the first time in over a century at Sears Point Ranch along Highway 37 in the North Bay.
Since then, the site has been evolving well with surprisingly rapid sediment accretion, and visits from shorebirds and waterfowl in the tens of thousands according to Baylands Program Manager, Julian Meisler. The gently sloping levee has also seen what Julian describes as “significant wind wave erosion”. In response, the Sonoma Land Trust (SLT) team has been working with a group of ecologists and engineers to incorporate nature-based solutions to tackle these challenges. Their approach includes using a mixture of logs, gravel, mud, plants and natural processes to protect the shoreline and allow the marsh to respond to future conditions. The project is unique in the San Francisco Bay and the SLT team is hopeful that it will serve as a model for rebuilding eroding shorelines in similar settings.