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Scientists at the USGS Western Ecological Research Center study the many ecosystems of the Pacific Southwest. Follow our expeditions and projects through this outreach page, and learn more about your local landscape with our library of Outreach Factsheets and photos. Thanks for joining us!

Ben Young Landis
Outreach and Communications Coordinator

WERC Headquarters
3020 State University Drive East
Sacramento, CA 95819
Phone: (916) 278-9495
Fax: (916) 278-9475
Email: blandis@usgs.gov
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A6 Pond Breach, South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project --Photographer: Ben Young Landis, USGS
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Photos From the Field: S.F. Bay Pond Breach
FRIDAY DEC 10 2010
Earlier this week, a 330-acre tract in south San Francisco Bay was reborn as a tidal wetland -- one that will provide endangered species habitat, natural flood control and other benefits for nearby communities in Santa Clara County.

The tract, called Pond A6, is one of 15,000 acres overseen by the South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Projecta multiagency effort that is managing land formerly controlled by hunting clubs and salt producers and restoring them to their original tidal wetland ecosystems. WERC researcher Laura Valoppi serves as the lead scientist for this collaborative project.

From these photos, you can see the dramatic process of the pond breach, as two massive mechanical excavators cut away the pond levees and allow the tidal waters to enter the prepared wetland:

A6 Pond Breach, South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project --Photographer: Ben Young Landis, USGS
9:59 a.m.: Crews have been digging for half an hour. This crew is positioned on the levee of the Alviso Slough side of A6.
A6 Pond Breach, South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project --Photographer: Ben Young Landis, USGS
10:00 a.m.: Water starts trickling in. Four breach points are spaced over the perimeter of A6, with two breached that day.
A6 Pond Breach, South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project --Photographer: Ben Young Landis, USGS
10:00 a.m.: The A6 breach was funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
A6 Pond Breach, South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project --Photographer: Ben Young Landis, USGS
10:04 a.m.: Eventually, A6 will provide valuable habitat for animals like rare clapper rails and salt marsh harvest mice.
A6 Pond Breach, South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project --Photographer: Ben Young Landis, USGS
9:50 a.m.: Standing on the levee looking into Pond A6, you can see the original "dentritic" tidal channel patterns. The breach point will match up with this old channel and open it up to Alviso Slough waters.
A6 Pond Breach, South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project --Photographer: Ben Young Landis, USGS
10:08 a.m.: Off in the distance, you can see engineered dirt mounds that will form marsh islands during high tide. The old tidal channel is also starting to fill up with water as the breaching continues.
A6 Pond Breach, South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project --Photographer: Ben Young Landis, USGS
10:38 a.m.: Water continues to gush into the empty tract, which will later rise and fall with the natural tidal cycle. USGS scientists will study how the new wetland will alter the ecology of California gulls and other bird species.
A6 Pond Breach, South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project --Photographer: Ben Young Landis, USGS
11:23 a.m.: The mounds have become islands as Alviso Slough continues to gush in. Partners in the multiagency effort include the CA State Coastal Conservancy and CA Department of Fish and Game.
A6 Pond Breach, South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project --Photographer: Ben Young Landis, USGS
10:40 a.m.: The gargatuan excavators are dwarfed by the deluge of water and sediment. S.F. State University scientists will monitor the sediment accumulation of the new wetlands.  

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