The State Coastal Conservancy and multiple state, federal, and non-profit partners have begun construction of native oyster and eelgrass beds as part of an innovative habitat restoration and climate change adaptation pilot project in San Francisco Bay. Working with landowners, The Nature Conservancy and the CA Department of Fish and Wildlife, the project builds upon 50 year regional goals for the restoration and protection of heretofore ‘hidden’ aspects of this majestic estuary. It is the first time that restoration of oyster and eelgrass beds is occurring at this scale, and results will provide critical information about the potential benefits of using natural reefs along the shoreline to protect habitat in the face of sea level rise and climate change. This type of work is new to San Francisco Bay but is building on the lessons learned from other restoration efforts in the estuary and around the nation. The pilot project was constructed in two locations in summer 2012: in San Rafael Bay and along the Hayward shoreline near Eden Landing. Through frequent monitoring, information is being generated about how the project can be scaled up to balance shoreline protection, environmental impacts, and habitat needs.
At the San Rafael site where there is a larger project- more than two million native oysters have settled at the site, along with juvenile Dungeness crabs, bay shrimp, white sturgeon, and a wide diversity of other fish, birds, and wildlife. Initial data shows that the reefs reduce wave speeds by 30% at certain water levels. At the Hayward site where there is a smaller project, a smaller number of oysters have settled and eelgrass is thriving. More information about the project is available at www.sfbaylivingshorelines.org.