Project Description

The South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project is the largest tidal wetland restoration project on the West Coast. When complete, the project will restore 15,100 acres of industrial salt ponds to a rich mosaic of tidal wetlands and other habitats.

San Francisco Bay has lost an estimated 85 percent of its historic wetlands to fill or alteration. This dramatic decline in tidal marsh habitats has caused populations of marsh-dependent fish and wildlife to dwindle. It has also decreased water quality and increased local flood risks. Restoration of the South Bay salt ponds provides an opportunity to begin to reverse these trends, by improving the health of San Francisco Bay for years to come.

The goals of the project are to:

  • Restore and enhance a mix of wetland habitats;
  • Provide wildlife-oriented public access and recreation;
  • Provide for flood management in the South Bay.

Under the leadership of Senator Dianne Feinstein, the South Bay Salt Ponds were acquired in 2003 from Cargill Inc. Funds for the acquisition were provided by federal and state resource agencies and several private foundations. The 15,100-acre property transfer represents the largest single acquisition in a larger campaign to restore 40,000 acres of lost tidal wetlands to San Francisco Bay.

Shortly after the property was acquired, the California Department of Fish and Game, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the California Coastal Conservancy launched a four- year public process to design a restoration plan for the property. The final plan was adopted in 2008 and the first phase of restoration started later that year.

A broad coalition of agency staff, scientists and members of the public worked for four years to develop the current restoration plan. The plan serves as a blueprint for habitat restoration, flood protection, and the construction of new trails, viewing platforms and other public access amenities along the Bay. Project partners and members of the public are now collaborating on implementing the first phase and planning our second phase You are encouraged to attend one or more of the three regional Working Group Meetings. Each Working Group focuses on current design, construction and research issues at one of the three pond complexes in the restoration area.