The Restoration of
Latest Update: April, 2013
The pedestrian bridge from Bair Island Road to Inner Bair Island is largely complete! A small section of the trail is expected to open up to the public following the official opening of the bridge, expected later this month. This will provide an opportunity for the public to cross the bridge and walk on the very short trail on the so-called "containment berm" at that end of Inner Bair Island. Here are the upcoming milestones for this year:
- Install pedestrian bridge - done!
- Complete importation of dirt fill - nearly done!
- Install "flow constrictor" (to help guide tidal action) in Smith Slough - done!
- Breach of the levee and return of tidal flow to Inner Bair Island (possibly as early as Fall, 2013)
Again, these time-frames are tentative and subject to change - but the great news is that there is light at the end of the tunnel for restoration of Inner Bair Island.
For more information about the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge and Bair Island, click here to go to the US Fish and Wildlife Service website.
Funding for construction of a pedestrian bridge from Bair Island Road (near the existing parking lot) and Inner Bair Island has been secured, including $300,000 from Redwood City. Another contributing partner, Ducks Unlimited, will be managing the construction of the bridge, which is expected to take place in 2012. The US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) says that after the bridge is built, it may be possible to open a very short segment of trail on the island. In the meantime, Bair Island remains entirely closed to the public as the restoration work continues.
The slow economy and resulting slow overall pace of construction in the Bay Area is causing less clean dirt fill to be available on the "dirt market" for this project (which requires over 1 million cubic yards of dirt). The US Fish and Wildlife Service is hopeful that the availability of clean fill will soon improve.
The California Coastal Conservancy Board approved a $1,000,000 grant request (including $200,000 in San Francisco Bay Trail funds) for the Bair Island Pedestrian Bridge. Along with Redwood City's $300,000 pledge, the funding for the pedestrian bridge is in place. The efforts of Ducks Unlimited, a member of the Bair Island Task Force, were instrumental in securing the state funding. This bridge will be built from Bair Island Road, near the existing approved parking lot, onto Bair Island. Note that the Whipple Avenue entrance to Bair Island has always been illegitimate and is permanently closed.
The importation of dirt fill is slowly proceeding, as dirt becomes available. Even though there may not appear to be work going on, it is intermittent and changeable from week to week. The site remains closed to the public as this phase continues.
Additional dredging this fall at the Port of Redwood City will provide more of the fill needed at Inner Bair Island as part of the restoration.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service has a new contractor on board to continue the massive haul of dirt that is needed to raise Inner Bair Island to the height necessary for appropriate tidal flow in the future. For safety reasons, the island remains closed to the public.
December, 2008 - "Beneficial re-use" of Port dredge materials helps with restoration effort: On the morning of December 8th, 2008, a huge “clamshell” dredge plunged into the channel at the Port of Redwood City, brought up a gigantic, soaking wet load of sediment from the bottom, and dumped it onto a barge for eventual disposal…not in the bay or the ocean, but onto Inner Bair Island as part of its ongoing restoration to tidal wetland. This ceremony officially launched a project for the “beneficial re-use” of dredge materials to help with the habitat restoration of Bair Island, part of the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge. It’s the ultimate in recycling! Read the news release here, and read some technical information about the dredging project here.
October, 2007 - Bair Island closed during restoration: Bair Island is entirely closed to public access to allow heavy machinery to safely operate. There is a possibility of periodic weekend openings - if any such openings are scheduled, they will be posted here.
The environmental restoration of inner Bair Island is now well-underway - ultimately, the area will have new and restored wildlife habitat (crucial for endangered species like the clapper rail and salt marsh harvest mouse!) and tidal wetlands, a rebuilt trail, observation platforms, and other amenities such as expanded parking and restrooms.
The first step in the restoration consists of bringing in over one million cubic yards of dirt to raise the island's level and create a more natural tidal wetland. Some of this dirt is being used to create levees to hold dredge material to be deposited later.
Unfortunately, during this first phase there have been numerous incidents of vandalism, cutting of barrier chains, fences, and locks, trespassing off of the marked trail, pedestrians venturing dangerously close to the trucks and earth-moving equipment, and even an incident of people riding all-terrain-vehicles on Bair Island. For these reasons, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) has decided to close Bair Island and the loop trail until further notice. The initial restoration work is expected to last from three-to-five years.
Please visit the links below for more information on the Bair Island Restoration Project.