Archived News Release from 2007
For Immediate Release
Bair Island Restoration Begins! Temporary/Periodic Trail Closures Required for Dirt Delivery
No parking or public access to Bair Island at the end of Whipple Road - Illegally parked vehicles are subject to citation. Parking for access to Bair Island is available at the south end of the island via Bair Island Road. From there, visitors can walk along the "mainland" trail to the Whipple entrance and gain access to Bair Island trail - only during non-hauling periods. Click here for map.
Good News: The Fish & Wildlife Service is working to arrange for public access to the Bair Island loop trail even during the hours when trucks are delivering dirt. The current plan is to create additional walkways to avoid the truck route, and allow access onto the loop trail, accessed either from the Bair Island parking lot to the south (on Bair Island Road - see above), or from the Bay Trail to the north. If the Fish & Wildlife Service can create a safe way for such access, then it's expected to reopened by the middle of August.
In the meantime, the Bair Island loop trail will be closed, with no access to the island, from 7 am to 5 pm weekdays. Unannounced additional trail closure periods may be necessary beyond those hours, or on weekends.
Trucks and heavy equipment are in use for the duration of the dirt haul to Bair Island. For the public safety, it is imperative that visitors respect the closure periods. We apologize for the inconvenience; however, these closures are necessary for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to carry out this important wetlands restoration project. Read below for additional information on the restoration of Bair Island.
Redwood City, CA - July 9 , 2007 - The much-anticipated environmental restoration of inner Bair Island is about to begin!
This week, trucks will start the long process of delivering an estimated one million cubic yards of dirt to raise the level of the island – the first step in its restoration to a natural tidal wetland.
As this dirt fill is delivered, there will be periodic temporary closures of the popular loop trail on the island. Trail closures will generally occur during weekdays only, and usually will allow for the trail to be open to the public during the early morning and early evening hours. The trail will remain fully open to the public on weekends. This schedule is subject to change, and unanticipated additional trail closures may periodically occur, including on weekends.
Bair Island is a 3,000-acre portion of the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge, and is frequented by an estimated 250,000 visitors annually. Walkers, joggers, nature lovers, and families from throughout the Bay Area enjoy Bair Island’s wildlife, open space, and scenery. The United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is undertaking the restoration of about 1,400 acres of Bair Island, to return it to its natural condition as tidal wetlands – a recovery from its historic human use as grazing lands and salt evaporation ponds. The restoration of this ecological treasure will help renew natural vegetation, protect critical wildlife habitat and endangered species, reduce mosquito breeding, and offer revitalized public access and renewed opportunities for environmental education.
Part of the restoration includes raising the level of the island so that when tidal action is re-introduced, the area will quickly become a more natural vegetated marsh. To raise the island’s level, the restoration plan requires the placement of an estimated one million cubic yards of dirt fill onto the island via a newly-built ramp over the existing levee, adjacent to Whipple Avenue. Due to the sheer volume of the fill material to be delivered to the site, the trucking-in of dirt is expected to continue for an estimated three-to-five years. For the public safety, visitors are urged to respect the trail closure periods and stay away from any trucks or equipment that may be on the site.
The dirt is obtained by the FWS from a variety of sources and will be closely monitored to ensure that it is “clean” fill and absent any unsuitable materials. The timing of the fill activity may also allow for the use of materials from scheduled dredging of the channel serving the Port of Redwood City. This “beneficial re-use” of dredge materials supports the continuing maritime commerce that is an important element of Redwood City’s and the region’s economy.
Re-using dredge materials on Bair Island helps to keep the San Francisco Bay clean by avoiding the more-typical dumping of dredged material into the bay near Alcatraz. Additionally, a vegetated tidal marsh habitat will help to prevent ducks and geese from becoming a bird “strike hazard” for planes using the San Carlo Airport.
Redwood City has been very involved in the FWS’ restoration plan, creating a supplement to that plan outlining the City’s goals for low-intensity public access and environmental educational facilities and opportunities, and stating its strong desire, shared by the FWS and many other groups, for full restoration, protection of endangered species, and habitat restoration and preservation.
Once this massive dirt fill is complete and other restoration elements are in place, the FWS will breach the existing levees at strategic locations, in order to restore natural tidal action. This in turn will provide for the natural evolution of the site to tidal wetlands, natural vegetation, and habitat for many species including the endangered California clapper rail and the salt marsh harvest mouse.
The entire project represents a model which other entities throughout the Bay Area might use for similar cooperative efforts and beneficial re-use of dredge materials. An important part of that model is a unique partnership between a group of agencies and non-profit organizations to provide mutual support for the ongoing efforts for restoration of Bair Island. This group includes the FWS, the City of Redwood City, the Bay Planning Coalition, the Port of Redwood City, Save the Bay, South Bayside Systems Authority, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and others.
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Malcolm Smith, Redwood City
Clyde Morris, USFWS
(510) 792-4275 x25