Sonoma Baylands

Driving Directions:

The wetland is next to Port Sonoma Marina (270 Sears Point Rd, Petaluma, 94952). From Highway 37: Take the Port Sonoma exit. After you turn off the freeway, at the fork, look for parking. (If you go right, you will end up at the marina offices.) You must walk in from the parking area near the highway (about ½ mile) to the trailhead near the railroad tracks. (The automatic gate is not for vehicles belonging to the general public.)

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What is there:  There are signs on the levee-top trail related to some of the more common fauna found in the marsh. There are no restrooms on the property nor is there any drinking water available. (There may be a public restroom available at the marina.) It is suggested that you time your visit according to the tides, as lower and incoming tides increase visitation by wading birds. Bicycles are allowed on the levee trail. Please keep dogs on leash. You may see landscaping flags along the levee which are the result of native plant projects carried out by various school groups. For more information about the native plant project carried out by the STRAW project of PRBO Conservation Science, visit: www.prbo.org/cms/192

Depending upon the time of year and tidal stage, you may see a wide variety of wading and swimming birds. A variety of fish are known to enter the site from the bay, including bat rays and the site is visited by coyotes, deer and smaller mammals.

air photo of SB looking west 2006

Looking West toward Petaluma River

 

Brief History: The wetland was constructed by a partnership between the State Coastal Conservancy, Army Corps of Engineers and the Port of Oakland. The Sonoma Land Trust has assisted with ownership and management of the site, as was well as the adjacent properties. The 348-acre wetland was a hay farm until 1989 when the Corps built the perimeter levee that separates the wetland from the rail line and farm to the north. The site was then filled with clean dredged sediment from the Petaluma River approach channel and the Port of Oakland, restoring the site elevations to a level just below mean sea level. In 1995 the outboard levee was lowered and breached in two locations, to allow bay tides to flush the site daily. At first, bay water was restricted by the narrow ditch that leads to the bay, but in the years 2002-2006 the breach area opened rapidly which has caused increased sedimentation within the site and rapid colonization by the predominant wetland plants, the common cord grass (Spartina foliosa) and pickle weed (Salicornia virginica). The progress of colonization by marsh species is monitored by the Army Corps of Engineers, which tracks both the physical changes, as well as measurements such as plant cover and the number and type of fish and birds. The Coastal Conservancy transfered ownership of the property to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for inclusion into the San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

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