Water Resource Collections and Archives


San Francisco Bay Fund Inventory of Projects

San Francisco Bay Fund Inventory of Projects

High Marsh - Upland Transitional Habitat Revegetation

Organization: San Francisco Bay Wildlife Society
2008 Grant Recipient – Santa Clara County


The upland fringe bordering tidal marshes provides critical functions and values to the ecosystem and therefore must be included in the restoration of San Francisco Bay. The San Francisco Foundation’s Bay Fund grant contributed to the development of methods and materials for restoring tidal marsh-upland transitional plant communities, which are sometimes referred to as “bay ecotone” habitats. The goal was to develop feasible methods for restoring stable native-dominated upland transitions that provided the functions and values needed by the tidal marsh ecosystem as well as habitat for the dozens of plant species that once thrived in them.

The Bay’s upland transitional habitats are so disturbed that good reference sites for developing a comprehensive plant community list do not exist, so we developed a plausible list from historic accounts, herbarium records, and species lists from any remaining open space. This working list was used to check for appropriate stocks from native seed suppliers and search for collections from local native populations in the region. Seed mixes were then tested with every appropriate direct seeding technique at the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National wildlife Refuge Environmental Education Center in Alviso, California.

2012 Update - San Francisco Bay Wildlife Society

Project Background and Current Status. In 2007, David Thomson began volunteering with the US Fish & Wildlife Service's National Wildlife Refuge staff to help them implement a management plan to restore plant communities next to salt marshes. Over the next year, it became clear that nobody knew how to actually accomplish that, so Thomson wrote for grants to fund his full-time work on this new project. The San Francisco Bay Wildlife Society agreed to administer those grants and the project continued to grow until 2011 when additional grants exceeded the administrative capacity of the organization and the project was moved to The San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory's Habitats Program. Over the past year, the methods developed by this project were utilized on over 20 acres at five different sites in South San Francisco Bay. The project continues to monitor existing sites, as well as perform more tests and find additional species to continue improving them.

The organizations have successfully described a variety of methods and a diverse array of local native plants that can colonize highly disturbed sites and appear to be on a positive trajectory towards restoration success. Pioneering annual species have been shown to rapidly establish and could be providing strong direct competition with exotic species. While some perennials germinate well from seed and appear to establishing themselves the staff continues to work on other important native species, describing seed stratification or container propagation protocols that will improve restoration success and make restoring these habitats as feasible as possible for open space management.


Contact for the Project

David Thomson
Senior Ecologist – Habitats Program
San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory
Phone: (408) 623-1605
E-mail: dthomson@sfbbo.org

Quick Links

Project Photos

The Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge Environmental Education Center is located in Alviso, CA with an entrance off Zanker/Los Esteros Road at Grand Blvd. The Refuge, which was officially established in 1974 and is named for Congressman Don Edwards who worked with the Legislature to approve the purchase of lands, is located near the urban areas of Fremont, San Jose, and Redwood City, CA.

Map showing the 2008 soil treatments prior to seed drilling of 8 native grass species.

Map showing the 2009 hydroseeding areas where dozens of native broadleaf and grass species were tested and have since been monitored for three years.

Photo of 2009 hydroseeded annual species recruiting strongly in Year 1.

Photo of the 2009 hydroseeding in Year 2, with perennial species taking over.

Another photo of the 2009 hydroseeding in Year 2, with perennial species taking over.

Photo of EEC berm in Year 1 after hand seeding by volunteers.

Photo of EEC berm in Year 2.

Another portion of the EEC in Year 2 after the 2009 hydroseeding.

Last modified: 7/27/2013 1:27 PM by J. Greene

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