YOSEMITE SLOUGH WETLANDS RESTORATION AT CANDLESTICK POINT STATE RECREATION AREA

Candlestick Point State Recreation Area is located in the southeast part of the city and county of San Francisco. Being the first state park purposely acquired to bring the State Park System into an urban setting, Candlestick is readily accessible to over four million citizens. The park offers beautiful views of the San Francisco Bay, with picnic areas, fishing (including two fishing piers) and hiking trails (including a fitness course for seniors and a bike trail). The park also has an area popular with windsurfers. But as any regular park visitor knows, the most northerly portion of Candlestick Point is closed off to public access due to past dumping, junkyards, and landfill that have turned once thriving wetlands into a wasteland. The state purchased this area, also known as Yosemite Slough, in part to cease the dumping and polluting that was occurring, but also because it recognized the historical nature of the tidal marshes and mudflats that are threatened by the misuse of the land.

In 1987, the State Parks System approved the Candlestick Point State Recreation Area General Plan after much public participation and feedback. The Plan identified the restoration of natural areas within the Yosemite Slough as a high priority. In 2003, a total of 34-acres, including Yosemite Slough, was assessed for restoration potential in a feasibility study funded by the CSPF. The study showed that restoration of this area is possible and would be extremely beneficial for the entire bay.

As a result, the Yosemite Slough Restoration plan was developed in accordance to the General Plan. It offers the most comprehensive recreational, educational and clean up opportunities for this area. The restoration of Yosemite Slough will create the largest contiguous wetland area in the County of San Francisco. The project will help restore essential wildlife habitat, improve water quality, and prevent erosion along the shoreline of the City of San Francisco—an area of the bay where tidal wetlands have been most impacted and suffered the greatest loss due to urbanization. The Yosemite Slough Restoration project will also be accessible to visitors and will serve Bayview Hunters Point, a community that has been unfairly impacted by environmental degradation.

Goals and objectives of the proposed restoration include the following

  • Increase the area subject to tidal influence by excavating three areas that were formerly part of San Francisco Bay
  • Restore habitat diversity by adding 10 acres of tidally-influenced wetlands and marsh area and remove chemically-impacted soils from upland areas to improve the quality of existing habitat
  • Improve habitat for special status species (e.g. western snowy plover and double-crested cormorants) by a nesting island along the north shoreline
  • Improve the quality of life for the surrounding community by creating a clean, beautiful local park for viewing wildlife habitat
  • Create an environmental area that local schools can use for field trips
  • Connect to the Blue Greenway, an important effort to build 13-miles of Bay Trail along the southern waterfront of the San Francisco Bay Trail.

The first phase of the restoration project, the restoration of 7 acres along the north shore of Yosemite Slough, broke ground in June 2011 and was completed in June of 2012, one year ahead of schedule. The $14.2 million project has been supported by private and public monies including the California Coastal Conservancy, the Wildlife Conservation Board, BCDC, the City of San Francisco, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 9/ San Francisco Bay Water Quality Improvement Fund/San Francisco Estuary Partnership, the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Foundation, Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), the Barkley Fund, S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation and the San Francisco Foundation. Subsequent phases will restore wetlands on the south side of Yosemite Slough and add capital improvements. Design work for the north side capital improvements have begun, and are expected to be completed in spring 2016.

If you are interested in learning more about the project or making a donation towards the restoration of the Yosemite Slough wetlands at Candlestick Point SRA, please contact Cecille Caterson at (213) 542-2450 or email at cecille@calparks.org.

California State Parks Foundation

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