Wednesday June 28, 2023

Eureka Times Standard

A restoration project wrapped up that has provided new public access to the estuary of the Eel River. The Ocean Ranch restoration project has reconnected wetlands with the Eel River Estuary, and reopened to the public in January after two years of construction work.

Kate Freeman, a biologist for Ducks Unlimited, said there is an urgency to this kind of restoration work.

“With 90% of California’s historic wetlands lost, projects like this can’t happen quickly enough,” she said.

This area serves as a major stopover point for birds in the Pacific flyway. The project breached last fall, but Freeman said it was 10 years in the making. In total, 850 acres of dunes and tidal wetlands were restored. Much of the work has to do with the removal of historical levees that stopped the natural flow of water.

Freeman said the property historically was diked off and levees were built in the early 1900s for a dairy farm. These levees have now been breached, opening the area to the tides and reconnecting it to the river estuary.

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