By Joe Eaton

Development agreements were already in place for three parcels of land around Dutch Slough when John Cain first took a hike in this West Delta area in the spring of 1999. “It was clear as day to me that removing the levee would be a great way to restore freshwater wetlands at the mouth of Marsh Creek,” says Cain, who now works for American Rivers. Almost two decades later, earthmoving equipment is now preparing 1,178 acres for conversion to marsh habitat. Patricia Finfrock of the Department of Water Resources has managed the project through design, planning, and permitting. “It’s a biologist’s dream come true to actually do habitat restoration,” she says. Michelle Orr, a project designer with ESA Associates, says compared to other projects she’s worked on in San Francisco Bay, the Delta’s Dutch Slough will rely more on hands-on intervention than natural processes to build wetlands. The project – the largest to date in the Delta – is designed to test different approaches to restoration.

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Big Restoration Experiment for the Delta’s Dutch Slough

By Joe Eaton

Development agreements were already in place for three parcels of land around Dutch Slough when John Cain first took a hike in this West Delta area in the spring of 1999. “It was clear as day to me that removing the levee would be a great way to restore freshwater wetlands at the mouth of Marsh Creek,” says Cain, who now works for American Rivers. Almost two decades later, earthmoving equipment is now preparing 1,178 acres for conversion to marsh habitat. Patricia Finfrock of the Department of Water Resources has managed the project through design, planning, and permitting. “It’s a biologist’s dream come true to actually do habitat restoration,” she says. Michelle Orr, a project designer with ESA Associates, says compared to other projects she’s worked on in San Francisco Bay, the Delta’s Dutch Slough will rely more on hands-on intervention than natural processes to build wetlands. The project – the largest to date in the Delta – is designed to test different approaches to restoration.

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About the author

Joe Eaton writes about endangered and invasive species, climate and ecosystem science, environmental history, and water issues for ESTUARY. He is also "a semi-obsessive birder" whose pursuit of rarities has taken him to many of California's shores, wetlands, and sewage plants.