For Immediate Release
April 19, 2013
Public Communications Manager
Redwood City's Contributions, Participation Lead to Bair Island Pedestrian Bridge Opening
"Soft Opening" of Pedestrian Bridge on April 22 is a Preview of the Nearly Completed Restoration
Redwood City, CA - After nearly seven years of work on the restoration of Bair Island, a major milestone will be reached on Monday April 22, with the "soft opening" of a new pedestrian bridge leading to the island, which was partly funded by the City of Redwood City.
Timed to coincide with Earth Day, 2013, the bridge opening will offer the first limited access to Bair Island since 2007, when the site closed for the major restoration work that is now nearing completion. The pedestrian bridge, which connects Bair Island Road to the southern end of Inner Bair Island, was partly funded by the City of Redwood City which committed $300,000 in Capital Improvement Funds to the project several years ago. The bridge construction was accomplished through a partnership with Ducks Unlimited and the State Coastal Conservancy, in cooperation with the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). The USFWS manages the Bair Island complex as part of the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge, and is the agency undertaking the massive restoration project on Inner Bair Island.
At 10 am, the many key partners participating in the restoration effort will join in walking across the newly-opened bridge. Subsequently the community may access a very short portion of trail on a small area of the island, as an opportunity to preview the nearly completed restoration. A more formal celebration will be held when the entire Bair Island restoration project is completed, either late this year or in early 2014. The final restoration will feature restored public trails, viewing platforms, and interpretive displays, as well as restored tidal flow which will return Inner Bair Island to its natural wetland condition, for the benefit of wildlife and its habitat, as well as the people who will enjoy the site.
Redwood City has been involved in and supportive of the USFWS' restoration plan from the very early phases. With a strong sense of stewardship for this natural treasure within its community, Redwood City created a supplement to that restoration plan outlining the City's goals for low-intensity public access and environmental educational facilities and opportunities. The City's supplement also formalized its strong desire, shared by the USFWS and many other groups, for full restoration, protection of endangered species, and habitat restoration and preservation.
The City continues to be a leading member of the Bair Island Task Force, a partnership of agencies and non-profit organizations from throughout the Bay Area, working to provide mutual support for the ongoing efforts for restoration of Bair Island. This group includes the USFWS, the City of Redwood City, the Bay Planning Coalition, the Port of Redwood City, Save the Bay, South Bayside System Authority, Ducks Unlimited, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and others. One of the key successes of the Task Force was the coordination of the "beneficial re-use" of dredge material from one period of the Redwood City Port's maintenance dredging. That material not only contributed to the over 1 million cubic yards of dirt fill needed for the restoration, but also diverted that fill from being deposited into the bay, ocean, or landfill.
Inner Bair Island is a 1,400-acre portion of the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Up to the point the restoration project began, it was frequented by an estimated 250,000 visitors annually - walkers, joggers, nature lovers, and families from throughout the Bay Area enjoyed Bair Island's wildlife, open space, and scenery. The USFWS has been working to restore 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 over one million cubic yards of dirt fill onto the island. Redwood City's Bair Island restoration information page is located at www.redwoodcity.org/bair.
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