Contra Costa County tidal marsh restoration will be the largest of its kind in California. But it’s taking forever

By Tara Duggan, San Francisco Chronicle, December 6, 2021 

“When completed, the $63 million restoration [of the 1,200 acre Dutch Slough tidal wetland in Contra Costa County] will be the largest of its kind in California, creating habitat for endangered salmon and other wildlife in a blueprint for how the state can become more resilient to climate change.

“The state Department of Water Resources, which leads the Dutch Slough Tidal Marsh Restoration Project [has] a goal to restore 30,000 acres of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta’s original 360,000 acres of wetlands long lost to farms and housing.

“ ‘[I]f you put [carbon] in wetlands, it can stay a very long time. The limitation is we have a limited amount of land area we can convert,’ said Dennis Baldocchi, professor at UC Berkeley’s Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management.

“The catch is the slow pace of the overall project: The remaining restoration is not expected to see completion until roughly 2025.

“ ‘Every year matters,’ said Dylan Chapple, senior environmental scientist at the Delta Stewardship Council, which administers grants for Baldocchi’s research. ‘Wetlands are a really critical nature-based infrastructure.’

“It’s the same permitting process as a housing development, even though we’re creating better habitat than was here before,” said Molly Ferrell, senior environmental science specialist at the state Department of Water Resources.”

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