2009 Project Approvals

The Coastal Conservancy’s ability to provide financial support for projects was severely curtailed in 2009 because of limitations on use of bond funds resulting from the State’s budget crisis. Nevertheless, during the year the Conservancy received more than $27 million in federal appropriations for its projects together with approvals for more than $51 million of economic stimulus funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, most of which will be put to use before the end of 2010. Funding from the federal government and other sources enabled the Conservancy to provide new support in 2009 for 22 projects along California’s coast and around San Francisco Bay with awards totaling more than $30 million. The projects are providing jobs, supporting local economies, protecting natural lands, improving wildlife habitat, and helping people enjoy the coast and the Bay Area.

The year began with a near-complete freeze on funds originating from State bonds, which put a halt to most Conservancy projects. As the year progressed, limited bond funds began to be released and work gradually resumed on many projects—more than 100 by the end of the year. Bond funds for new projects, however, remained frozen throughout 2009.

The Conservancy continues to support its existing projects to the extent possible and is planning for new projects when State funding again becomes available. To accomplish its goals the Conservancy relies on partnerships with local communities and more than 100 nonprofit organizations based in all parts of the coast and around San Francisco Bay. This network ensures that local residents inform the Conservancy about coastal needs and opportunities and are actively involved in the Conservancy’s work.

South Coast

For San Diego County the Conservancy

• awarded $4.84 million to the Southwest Wetlands Interpretive Association and $297,000 to the Port of San Diego for restoration of the South San Diego Bay Wetlands. The goal of the project is to restore the natural ecology of 225 acres of salt ponds at the southwest end of the bay. Most of the bay’s wetlands habitats have been lost to development, but what remains supports tens of thousands of resident and migratory birds and many varieties of fish and other wildlife. Most of the Conservancy’s funding is available from a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Grant and a federal economic stimulus award from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. (June and October)

• awarded $960,000, available from the San Diego Association of Governments, to the San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy for planning and permitting necessary for restoration of San Elijo Lagoon in Encinitas. The work will lead to improvements in the lagoon’s water circulation and wildlife habitat and establishment of a long-term management program. Although severely degraded, the lagoon is a valuable component of the network of habitats for birds and fish along the South Coast. (February)

• approved use of $540,000, available from the San Diego Association of Governments, for planning and permitting necessary for restoration of Buena Vista Lagoon State Ecological Reserve in Carlsbad and Oceanside. Urban development around the lagoon has constricted its habitats, and flows of sediments that settle in the lagoon threaten its continued existence. Despite these impairments, the lagoon supports a wide diversity of wildlife and is a prized amenity to the community. The funding supplements $600,000 the Conservancy made available for the restoration in 2008. (April)

• awarded $195,000 of federal stimulus funds to the Southwest Wetlands Interpretive Association for its study on how sediments are transported in the coastal nearshore at the Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve. The study will assist in the review of current policies regarding sediment discharge and deposition in California and may well lead to lower costs for restoration projects and better use of sediments for beach nourishment and other purposes. The award augmented more than $750,000 provided by the Conservancy for the project in 2007 and 2008. (September)

For Orange County the Conservancy

• granted $26,000 to Orange County Coastkeeper to maintain the Conservancy’s public access easement at Portofino Cove in Huntington Harbour. The easement allows the public to use a sidewalk that runs along the Harbour’s main channel between Seabridge Park and a public parking lot. The Conservancy also authorized transfer of that easement and another public access easement, not yet open to the public, in the Harbour to Orange County Coastkeeper, which has managed the Portofino Cove easement since 2007. (February and June)

For Los Angeles County the Conservancy

• provided $25,000 to the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority (MRCA) for work that will lead to construction of a public stairway leading from Malibu Road to Amarillo and Malibu Colony beaches in the City of Malibu. The Conservancy further directed that ownership of the underlying property be transferred from the Conservancy to MRCA. The Conservancy acquired the property in 2002 and since that time has been planning to build a stairway there. (June)

• awarded $25,000 to Los Angeles Forum to conduct public access educational tours in Malibu. Los Angeles Forum will support an existing program of the Los Angeles Urban Rangers through which visitors are taken on “safaris” to under-utilized beaches and taught how to identify and reach easements that allow use by the public. The program includes printed guides that map the location of public accessways and provide additional information useful to beach-goers. (June)

Central Coast

For the length of the Central Coast the Conservancy

• awarded $94,000 from the California sea otter tax check-off fund to the University of California, Santa Cruz, for the second phase of an investigation into the effects of coastal contaminants and other human-caused stressors on California sea otters. Early mortality and low birth rates among otters have been observed in recent years, and evidence suggests that causes include infectious diseases, parasites, and toxins resulting from human-related activities. In this phase of the study, two separate otter populations will be examined: one in Monterey Bay, where the water is relatively contaminated, and the other in Big Sur, where the water is more pristine. (December)

For Santa Cruz County the Conservancy

• awarded $210,000, available from the federal Coastal Impact Assistance Program, to the nonprofit organization Save Our Shores for its community-based beach and marine debris prevention and removal program. The program benefits the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and targets the watersheds of the Pajaro and San Lorenzo rivers and Arana Gulch. The funding follows $100,000 that the Conservancy awarded in 2007 for the program’s development. (April)

San Francisco Bay Area

For the Greater San Francisco Bay Area the Conservancy

• made almost $6.9 million of federal funding available for Phase I of the South Bay Salt Ponds Restoration Project, the West Coast’s largest tidal wetlands restoration project. The funding is supporting work at three sites in the 15,100-acre salt ponds purchased by the State and federal governments in 2003. The work is being done by Ducks Unlimited, the Santa Clara Valley Water District, and Alameda County and the funding is available from a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Grant and an economic stimulus award from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. (June and September)

• made almost $1.9 million of federal funding available for the aggressive effort to stem the spread of invasive Spartina, a type of fast-growing cordgrass that threatens native wildlife habitats in the Bay. The Conservancy has been working since 1999 to eradicate the noxious weed, which is now considered to be under control. The federal funding included a $1.7 million award of economic stimulus funds from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration plus additional funds from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. (April and June)

For Alameda County the Conservancy

• awarded $100,000 of Caltrans mitigation funds to the East Bay Regional Park District to study alternative strategies for restoring sand dunes and building trails and other improvements at Albany Beach, on the west side of Golden Gate Fields in Eastshore State Park. Although the Albany Beach dunes resulted from human-placed fill, they are thought to be similar to San Francisco Bay’s historic dunes, almost all of which have been lost to development. As such, they may offer opportunities for the continued survival of rare native plants that require dune habitats. (September)

For Contra Costa County the Conservancy

• authorized the Association of Bay Area Governments to award $150,000 from an earlier Conservancy block grant to the East Bay Regional Park District for construction of a 1.1-mile segment of the San Francisco Bay Trail between San Pablo and Wildcat creeks at the West County Wastewater District facility. The new trail will enable hikers, bikers, and wheelchair riders to reach more than a half mile of Richmond’s San Pablo Bay shoreline at Wildcat Marsh. (December)

For Napa County the Conservancy

• made $65,000 from the San Francisco Foundation available to monitor levels of methylmercury, a highly toxic compound of mercury that is readily accumulated in the food web, as part of the Napa River Salt Marsh Restoration Project. The restoration project aims to restore the ecology of 10,000 acres of former salt ponds along San Pablo Bay, and there is concern that the restoration might exacerbate the exposure of fish and other wildlife to methylmercury. The monitoring will help guide the progress of the restoration. (September)

North Coast

For the Coastside of Sonoma County the Conservancy

• awarded $8 million of Conservancy funds plus a $5.85-million grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for the Sonoma Land Trust’s $36-million purchase of the 5,630-acre Jenner Headlands property on the east side of Highway 1 north of the Russian River. The highly scenic property contains a variety of wildlife habitats—including redwood and Douglas fir forest, oak woodland, chaparral, meadows, and coastal prairie—and offers excellent opportunities for regional trails. The Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District will hold a conservation easement over the property and is working with the land trust to develop a management plan. The award of Conservancy funds was conditioned on their future availability from State bond sales, but the conditional award enabled the Land Trust to obtain interim funding for the purchase. (September)

For Mendocino County the Conservancy

• awarded $193,000 to the Northwest California Resource Conservation and Development Council to remove a barrier to fish passage in Ancestor Creek, a tributary of the Mattole River. A new structure spanning the creek at Briceland Road will replace culverts that prevent coho salmon and steelhead trout from reaching over two miles of high-quality spawning and rearing habitat. The funding augments a 2008 award of $105,000 from the Conservancy and replaces other State funds that became unavailable because of the State budget crisis. (September)

For Humboldt County the Conservancy

• awarded $20,000 to the North Coast Resource Center to make it easier for the public to reach natural areas around Humboldt Bay by cleaning up homeless encampments. The encampments, which are common around the Bay, are public health and safety hazards that discourage recreational use of natural areas by the general public. The North Coast Resource Center has been working with the poor and homeless in the area for over 32 years and, as part of the program, will direct homeless individuals to available services. (June)

Grants and Other Funding Awarded to State Coastal Conservancy in 2009

American Recovery & Reinvestment Act
National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
  • South San Diego Wetlands Restoration
  • South San Francisco Bay Salt Ponds Restoration Project
  • Invasive Spartina Eradication, San Francisco Bay
  • $2,975,000
  • $5,898,862
  • $1,722,081
US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA)/State Water
Resources Control Board
  • Tijuana Estuary Sediment Fate and Transport Study
  • $195,000
National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant Program/US
Fish & Wildlife Service
  • South San Diego Bay Wetlands Restoration
  • South San Francisco Bay Salt Ponds Restoration Project
  • Tomales Wetlands and Dunes Complex Protection Project, Marin
    County
  • Odello East Floodplain Restoration Project, Lower Carmel River
  • Middle Watsonville Slough Wetlands Protection Project
  • $1,000,000
  • $1,000,000
  • $ 1,000,000
  • $925,000
  • $860,410
Coastal Impact Assistance Program/US Minerals Management
Service
  • Invasive Spartina Eradication,
    San Francisco Bay
  • Invasive Spartina Eradication, Humboldt Bay
  • Santa Cruz Marine Debris Reduction Program
  • $800,000
  • $150,000
  • $210,000
NOAA Community-based Habitat Restoration National & Regional
Partnership
  • Southern California Wetlands Recovery Project
  • $500,000
USEPA
  • San Francisco Bay Living Shorelines Project, Corte Madera & Eden
    Landing
  • Invasive Spartina Eradication, San Francisco Bay
  • $300,000
  • $172,375
TOTAL FEDERAL FUNDING $17,708,728
California Department of Transportation Mitigation Funds
  • Eastshore State Park
  • Gateway Park, Oakland
  • Oakland Waterfront Access
  • Suisun Marsh Restoration
  • $2,017,562
  • $1,291,852
  • $1,000,000
  • $200,000
San Diego Association of Governments
  • Buena Vista & San Elijo Lagoon Restoration
  • $1,500,000
San Francisco Public Utilities Commission
  • Southeast Waterfront Access
  • $500,000
San Francisco Foundation
  • Napa River Salt Marsh Restoration Project
  • $65,000
Sonoma County Water Agency
  • Bay Area Integrated Regional Water Management Plan
  • Bay Area Water Forum
  • $10,000
  • $10,000
Poseidon Water
  • Bay Area Water Forum
  • $1,000
TOTAL NON-FEDERAL FUNDING $6,595,414
TOTAL ALL SOURCES $24,304,142
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