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Monday, March 11, 2013

Bioregional Habitat Restoration is for the Birds (and bees, flowers, etc.)

A Bald eagle and Red tailed hawk engage in a mid-air
fight over a Western grebe.
Photos: Jill Grant
BioMaAS biologist for SFPUC

The unique thrill of seeing Bald eagles on the Peninsula has brought many birders to view the rare nesting eagle pair in the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) watershed. Fish and waterfowl at the responsibly managed Crystal Springs Reservoir make for healthy prey.   
Great egret at the shore of Homestead Pond. 
Photo: Robin Scheswohl, SFPUC

In southwest San Mateo County, Great egrets (right), Western pond turtles, California newts, and other native wildlife are enjoying the change of scenery at Homestead Pond, one of 18 SFPUC Bioregional Habitat Restoration (BHR) mitigation projects.

The BHR has completed work to enlarge Homestead Pond, remove hundreds of non-native trees and other non-native and invasive plants at the site, and build a small bridge for maintenance access. Crews have been restoring native plants by hydroseeding and planting.


Left: SFPUC engineer David Hung surveys the Homestead Pond site after removal of non-native eucalyptus trees. Photo: Robin Scheswohl, SFPUC

At the Adobe Gulch Grasslands BHR site on the west side of Crystal Springs Reservoir, a maintenance road that frequently flooded was retired and converted to a creek. The recently planted native willows shown in the photo may just look like sticks poking out of the ground, but willows grow readily from cuttings and will help stabilize the banks of the new creek.

Landscaping crews at Adobe Gulch Grasslands drilled holes for
hundreds of willow transplants. Photo: Robin Scheswohl, SFPUC

On the west side of the San Andreas Reservoir, the BHR created four new wetlands. The restoration process included hydroseeding, a mechanical seed dispersal system operated from a truck.

The blue spray “paint” in this photo is actually hydroseeding.  
Photo: Katherine DuTiel, SFPUC

Approximately 1800 acres of local tidal marsh, wetlands, oak woodlands, coyote brush scrub, and grasslands are being improved by Bioregional Habitat Restoration projects in SFPUC’s Alameda and Peninsula watershed lands. These projects are part of the SFPUC’s $4.6 billion Water System Improvement Program (WSIP) to repair, replace, and seismically upgrade the aging Hetch Hetchy Regional Water System. WSIP includes more than 80 projects spanning seven counties from the Central Valley to downtown San Francisco. 

Related Links
Water System Improvement Program 
Natives of the Watershed - more photos and video
Homestead Pond turtles release - video and story