Restoring Oyster and EelGrass Habitat

Fish and Wildlife Recovery

This innovative project is the first large-scale effort to restore oyster and eelgrass beds in the Bay.

In July 2012, the State Coastal Conservancy, working with the Bay’s subtidal landowners (the Nature Conservancy and the State Wildlife Conservation Board) and numerous state, federal, and non-profit partners, began construction of native oyster and eelgrass beds in San Francisco Bay. Based on 50 year regional goals for the hidden, underwater part of our estuary, the project aims to understand the best methods for restoring eelgrass and oyster habitat, and to obtain data about the benefits of biological reefs along the Bay’s shoreline. Results will provide key information about how to protect habitat from climate change and sea level rise.

Pilot projects are ongoing in two locations: submerged areas of San Rafael Bay and along the Hayward shoreline. An interdisciplinary team of scientists will test the effectiveness of restoration techniques on bay habitat values. The team will also look at the connectivity between submerged areas and adjacent shorelines. While this type of work is new to San Francisco Bay, it  builds on lessons learned from other restoration efforts, especially along the Atlantic seaboard and the Gulf of Mexico.

The project is being managed by the State Coastal Conservancy, in collaboration with funding partners– including SFEP (using EPA grant funds) the Wildlife Conservation Board, and NOAA Fisheries. Construction is being led by the California Wildlife Foundation and Dixon Marine Services. Pacific oyster shell substrate for native oyster colonies is provided by Drakes Bay Oyster Company. Consultants leading the project include San Francisco State University, UC Davis, USGS Western Ecological Research Center, ESA PWA, ENVIRON, and Isla Arena Consulting.