Our Work

Our Work

South Bay Salt Pond Restoration

South Bay Salt Pond Restoration

Santa Clara, San Mateo, and Alameda Counties

The California Coastal Conservancy acquired 15,100 acres of former commercial salt ponds in South San Francisco Bay with the intent of restoring them to a mix of tidal marshes, mudflats, managed ponds, and other habitats. Additional goals for the project were to manage floodwaters and provide the public with wildlife-oriented access and recreation opportunities. Once restored, the area will be managed by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

As a key member of the technical consulting team, H. T. Harvey & Associates addressed all ecological issues encountered during the development of alternatives for the restoration project. We analyzed biological resources impacts for compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act and National Environmental Policy Act, led the first phase of restoration design, and guided the project in acquiring regulatory permits. Our team also monitored the pilot levee breaching conducted for the restoration effort, developed monitoring and adaptive management plans, and incorporated appropriate public access features into the project design. 

This project, the largest tidal and wetland restoration effort in the United States, had its share of challenges and complexities. The greatest challenge was trying to understand and balance the ecological tradeoffs among competing natural resources and stakeholder interests. The H. T. Harvey & Associates team of ecological experts worked to overcome these challenges, helped develop conceptual models for the restoration design, and helped develop a comprehensive adaptive management plan and the associated monitoring.

Important challenges encountered in this project included optimizing habitat to support shorebird populations while restoring tidal marsh habitat for endangered species (Salt Marsh Harvest mouse and Ridgway's Rail). Other challenges were presented by the scale of the project and its proximity to the urban interface, mercury contamination from historical mining upstream, and the presence of invasive species, such as nonnative Spartina, all of which demanded a particularly creative, multidisciplinary, collaborative, and scientifically sound approach to the restoration design.


Ridgway's Rail

Despite the challenges of project scale, urban proximity, nonnative invasive species, and more, our ecologists were instrumental in successfully preparing the Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement, designing the programmatic approach to these documents, and obtaining all of the regulatory permits on an extremely tight timeline.


Salt Marsh Harvest mouse