To offset for the loss of managed pond habitat during restoration of wetlands to tidal marsh, the South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project is enhancing some of the remaining ponds by constructing islands for roosting and nesting waterbirds. Among these wetland habitats, the SBSP Restoration Project also is installing walking trails and viewing platforms in an effort to bring the public closer to nature. In winter of 2010–11, the SBSP Restoration Project constructed 30 islands in Pond SF2 and walking trails and viewing platforms around the edge of the pond. The restoration project partners acknowledged that human disturbance could detrimentally affect nesting and roosting waterbirds. Although optimal buffer distances and potential for human disturbance were unknown, islands in Pond SF2, nevertheless, were designed with built-in buffers of greater than 300 feet (91 meters) from a trail and 600 feet (182 meters) from a viewing platform in order to minimize potential human disturbances.

To determine the effects that human disturbance may have on waterbirds nesting on these newly constructed islands in Pond SF2, we assessed the potential effects of human disturbance features (specifically, access trails, viewing platforms, internal pond berms, exterior levees, and highways) on breeding waterbirds in 2011 and 2012. We found no clear pattern of potential disturbance features on a group of reproductive factors, including nest survival, nest initiation date, and clutch size. Because all the islands were constructed greater than 90 meters from the nearest disturbance feature, Pond SF2 alone did not provide adequate variation in the distance of disturbance features to detect potential detrimental effects for islands closer to disturbance features in other areas of the SBSP Restoration Project. If there is a need for SBSP Restoration Project Management Team to understand how close islands can be built to disturbance features in the future, we suggest a more comprehensive study that includes multiple ponds, other than SF2, with islands at varying distances to disturbance features.

Open-File Report 2014–1223


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