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Napa Sonoma-Marshes Wildlife Area Napa Plant Site Restoration Project

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Location: Adjacent to Napa River, near American Canyon, CA

Website: Ducks Unlimited Restoring Tidal Wetlands in American Canyon, CA

Project Description:The California Department Fish and Wildlife’s  (CDFW’s) Napa Plant Site Restoration Project, now called the Green Island Unit of the Napa-Sonoma Marshes Wildlife Area (NSMWA), was acquired in 2003 by the State of California. The project area includes approximately 1,400 acres that were utilized as salt evaporation ponds consisting of the two highest salinity ponds (pickle ponds), the wash ponds, and the crystallizer beds of the Cargill North Bay salt production facility prior to its acquisition. The project objective is to restore former salt evaporation ponds to natural tidal wetlands that support populations of fish and wildlife, including endangered fish species, migratory waterfowl, shorebirds and other wildlife. Historically the site was dominated by tidal wetlands fringing the Napa River, prior to reclamation for oat hay and cattle pastures in the 1850s and eventual conversion to salt production in the 1950s. Project implementation included multiple levee breaches, levee lowering, internal tidal slough enhancement, construction of habitat islands and ecotone area, and construction of public access features.

California Least Tern Photos by Karen Taylor, California Department Fish and Widlife

Public access opportunities now include fishing, walking trails, kayaking, educational opportunities, scientific study, bird-watching, nature observations, and photography.  Ducks Unlimited (DU) secured restoration funding for project implementation from California Wildlife Conservation Board and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. DU provided the construction management services and complete the restoration in November of 2010.

During the summer months, California Least Tern and Western Snowy Plover, both endangered and threatened species, have “loose” colonies within the NSMWA and are known to nest in the Green Island Unit. In the winter, Green Island Unit is visited by many waterfowl and shorebirds as a stopover on the Pacific Flyway.  Other wildlife seen in this newly restored area includes Bald Eagle, Golden Eagle, Peregrine Falcon, North American river otter, and North American beaver.  Aquatic wildlife species observed at the Green Island Unit include bat rays, salmonids, and visiting harbor seals.

Project Partners: California Department Fish and Wildlife,Wildlife Conservation Board, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Resources Legacy Fund, Cargill, Inc. and Ducks Unlimited, GAIA Consulting and URS


California Department of Fish and Wildlife
Karen Taylor

Ducks Unlimited
Renee Spenst