The South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project (SBSPRP) is one of the largest tidal marsh restorations in the United States. Located within the southern arm of the San Francisco Estuary, the project is returning approximately 15,000 acres of former commercial salt production ponds to a rich mosaic of tidal wetlands and other habitats (EDAW et al. 2007 EIR/EIS Report). The restored ponds provide habitat for large numbers of migratory waterfowl and shorebirds, as well as several ESA listed species such as the Western snowy plover, California clapper rail, and the salt marsh harvest mouse (Takekawa et al. 2001; Warnock et al. 2002; Strong et al. 2004). To support diverse number of avian species and aquatic organisms the SBSPRP is using a mosaic design that incorporates local physical processes to support the structure and function of existing habitats, while restoring salt ponds to tidal wetlands. Pond restoration types include fully-tidal ponds, muted-tidal ponds and managed-ponds. Fully-tidal ponds were opened to tidal influence by excavating one, or in some cases multiple, breaches in the surrounding levee. These naturally fluctuating ponds typically de-water to outer channels (adjacent sloughs) on low tides and then completely fill, overtopping the marsh plane within the pond on high tides. Muted-tide ponds utilize water control structures to maintain pond levels at a minimum depth. The purpose of muting the tidal depth is to maintain habitat for wading birds and waterfowl while allowing tidal exchange with adjacent sloughs and the SF Bay. Water control structures are large enough to allow passage of mobile aquatic organisms, including fish, shrimp and crabs, to access the ponds, thereby creating opportunity for tidal refuge from the full exchange of the prevailing tides.

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