Water Resource Collections and Archives


San Francisco Bay Fund Inventory of Projects

San Francisco Bay Fund Inventory of Projects

Bahia Tidal Marsh Restoration Project

Organization: Marin Audubon Society
2005 Grant Recipient – Marin County


This grant project was designed to restore a functioning tidal marsh ecosystem to benefit the endangered California clapper rail and other special status and migratory species.

This grant provided funds to restore tidal marsh habitat on approximately 200 acres that had been diked and/or filled land at Bahia, city of Novato, Marin County. The larger project included the purchase of the 632-acre Bahia property, preparation of a tidal marsh habitat restoration plan and implementation of that plan. The property consisted of 377-acres of diked former tidal marsh and seasonal wetlands, approximately 255 acres of seasonal wetlands and blue oak dominated hills adjacent to the salt marsh. The city of Novato had approved building a housing development on the uplands and some of the wetlands.

The target species the restoration plan is designed to benefit is the endangered California Clapper Rail which inhabits nearby tidal marshes. Restoring tidal marsh will expand habitat for the Clapper Rail, other special status species including California Black Rail and San Pablo Song Sparrow, as well as for many species of migratory waterfowl and shorebirds.

The San Francisco Foundation funding was designated for construction of the restoration plan, specifically to excavate channels and move fill to raise the elevations of subsided lands, and lower and breach levees to allow tidal waters to again flow over former tidal marsh that had been diked for many years. The construction took place over five months and was completed on October 30, 2008.

The restoration of marsh takes place over time after tidal action is restored. The graded lands gradually evolve into a vegetated tidal marsh. The action of the tides distributes sediments and seeds of marsh plants and deposits them, slowly raising the elevation of the marsh plain, and widening and depending the channels and levee breaches.

Tidal marsh habitat does not just consist of the marsh itself. It also includes adjacent high marsh/transition zone areas that provide high tide refuge habitat for the endangered species, nesting and foraging habitat for other species, and that also serve to improve water quality. After construction, the adjacent upland/transition zones were planted with native species to provide high tide refugia habitat for endangered and for other special status species that inhabit the marsh. Vegetation of the transition zone habitat is still underway with planting of native species and removing invasive plants.

Other funders which made the restoration project possible: Coastal Conservancy, Wildlife Conservation Board, CALFED, Caltrans, US and Wildlife Service, The Bay Institute, NOAA, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Marin County, Marin Community Foundation, the Mead Foundation, Marin County Wildlife and Fisheries Commission, Forrest Lattner Foundation, National Audubon Society, Marin Baylands Advocates, and many private donors.

2012 Update

A follow up grant was awarded to this organization, Marin Audubon Society, in 2008 grant. Its purpose was to monitor the progress of the Tidal Marsh Restoration project that was completed being built during 2008. For additional information, refer to the description of that project in this series of webpages, where it is to be found under the Restoration category of projects. It is titled: Monitoring of Marsh Restoration Project at Bahia.


Contact for the Project

Barbara Salzman
Marin Audubon Society
Project Director
Phone: (415) 924-6057
E-mail: BSalzman@att.net
Website: www.MarinAudubon.org

Quick Links

Project Photos

Bahia Levee Breach - Crane dipping into the river. The Levee is in the City of Novato, Marin County

Bahia Seasonal and Tidal areas one and a-half year after Breach of the Levee.

Conservation Corps North Bay workers planting transition zone.

Marsh Vegetation Colonizing the Bahia Marsh Plain.

Bahia Monitoring Plan Elements

Last modified: 9/5/2012 3:08 PM by S. Haren

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