Thursday Afternoon’s ribbon cutting event was a big success with a great turnout from the Hamilton community and local dignitaries. The Marin IJ ran a story about the trail and we now have the “Point” smartphone tours available for trail users.
This new phone app. is the first of its kind and we are excited to get feedback from the public. To download, just look for “Point by Canogle” in your Apple App or Android / Google Play Store. There are two tours available: one more focussed on history and one focussed on the wetland and natural history.
The work at Hamilton Wetlands is far from over, though the Big Yellow Machines will rove no more. Most obvious are the planting crews who are planting native vegetation. The plants are grown in the project’s greenhouse, located just offsite north of Reservoir Hill and the Newport Neighborhood and volunteers, including kids from local elementary schools, are helping to plant them around the site. The vegetation work is managed by Christina McWorter who handles both the greenhouse and the field work. Assisting Christina has been Emily Allen and several interns from Point Blue’s STRAW Program (Students and Teachers Restoring A Watershed), which brought in hundreds of elementary and highschool students to help with the work. The work follows a detailed script and an
“adaptive management” approach, in which monitoring results feed back into decisions about future plantings. If you are interested in getting your hands dirty and becoming a volunteer, contact Christina at: email@example.com
Vegetation plantings are marked with colored flags in order to monitor progress. Most plants will be watered and tended for three years from planting. In addition to habitat plantings, this fall the nursery will be installing a row of shrubs along the northern portion of the Bay Trail to act as a barrier and visual screen.
As a major restoration effort, the project will be monitored for a variety of parameters to help assess the success of the project. The US Army Corps of Engineers is currently negotiating a contract to have standard parameters measured, for example cross sections of the channels and the amount of vegetation growing in the tidal areas. Much of this work will be done on a quarterly or annual basis and will make use of air photos and simple field instruments. The monitoring plan, called the Monitoring and Adaptive Management Plan, is available on this website under “Documents”.
On the pollutant side, the project was constructed of sediment that is cleaner than the ambient bay (because most of it was from deepening of an existing shipping channel), but because of its pernicious nature, mercury is still of concern. To address the mercury conundrum (marshes are good but marshes can also put mercury into the food-chain), the United States Geological Service (USGS) and the San Francisco Estuary Institute (SFEI) are monitoring mercury by sampling fish and birds. Specifically small fish are caught in traps and whole tissues are analyzed. This is a good guage of the mercury problem because small fish, such as silversides and gobies, act as “bio-sentinels” and since they are prey for larger fish and birds, can be used to estimate food-chain effects. But because fish don’t frequent all parts of the marsh, scientists also monitor mercury in bird blood. Samples are taken from song sparrows because they stick close to the marsh, feeding on marsh vegetation, and they are relatively abundant (a tiny bit of blood is taken and the bird released. The data will be compared to nearby marshes, like at China Camp, and to background stations throughout the bay, and measurements will be taken over a period of years to look for trends. Interested in all the contaminant monitoring done in the Bay? Check out the Regional Monitoring Program, part of SFEI. http://www.sfei.org/rmp
On April 25, a big milestone took place for the folks who have patiently watched this project for all these years (8 years since the start of construction, but who’s counting!) the
site was breached on April 25th. It started out a rainy day (with it raining hard the night before) but by the time the excavator was poised to open the dike, the rains had stopped and wind went to zero. The event was well covered by local media and we have links to the stories and a very nice video of the breach – go to the Media Tab to see all the attention.
We were sorry that this was not an event open the public but due to the location and safety concerns, it turned into a modest VIP affair. Given that all guests had to watch from behind the tractor, the best view is in the video (which was shot with a remote controlled, battery operated quadcopter). While this was the first water to flow freely onto the site, the tractors were actually still busy a week later simply because the breach is so wide (over 100 feet) and deep (12 feet). The excavated soil was carted over to the south east corner of the Bel Marin Keys V site were it is being stored for use in future use in the next phase of wetland restoration.
Announcing the re-opening of the nursery at the Hamilton Wetlands Restoration Project! Efforts to grow local native plants for the site are ramping back up, with an emphasis on species that will be planted into the North Seasonal Wetlands over the next year. Additional goals such as maintaining and monitoring the site’s native plants, removing invasive plants and enhancing the bird habitat, among other facets, will continue. Christina McWhorter, the nursery manager and site’s native plant specialist, is eager to reconnect with the local community of volunteers to create the vibrant atmosphere and tangible progress that has marked the nursery experience thus far. In the weeks to come, volunteers will be heading out to the site to help plant in the Wildlife Corridor and to start growing plants for the year to come.
If you are interested in getting involved with restoration efforts at Hamilton, including volunteering at the nursery, please contact Christina at: firstname.lastname@example.org All new volunteers are provided an orientation before they begin, which includes: a brief introduction to the project, discussion of site safety, scheduling, and the interests of each volunteer…all in an effort to ensure a positive and enriching volunteer experience.