Arcata Baylands Restoration / Enhancement Project
Over the past 150 years, California has lost over 90% of its coastal wetlands to development for human use. With the loss of these salt, brackish and fresh water wetlands went unique habitats that species like Coho and Chinook salmon, the tidewater goby and countless crustaceans and amphibians need to survive.
To protect and restore coastal wetland habitats the Arcata Baylands Restoration and Enhancement Project acquired 217 acres along North Humboldt Bay. The City project restored and enhanced wetland, riparian and stream habitat on 127 of those acres. The project area sits adjacent or nearby Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge lands, the Arcata Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary, the Mad River Slough Wildlife Area and Jacoby Creek Land Trust holdings, making a continuous, protected habitat area of over 1,300 acres.
Project workers dug out and enhanced some of Jacoby Creek's old network of channels that existed between Highway 101 and Old Arcata Road before the creek was diked off from the surrounding fields and North Humboldt Bay. These channels will now flood again and join during winter rains, providing important habitat in which juvenile salmon can eat and grow until they were big enough to enter the ocean. The project included installation of a tidal gate that prevents flooding of the adjacent fields while at that same time restoring tidal activity to existing and new channels. Workers also dug out a three-acre area to create additional seasonal freshwater wetland habitat in the winter. The project area is already attracting migratory birds like Aleutian cackling geese as well as ducks and shorebirds. The Baylands Project allows cattle grazing to provide short grass habitat for geese to help reduce the demand from geese on private ranching lands nearby.
The Arcata Baylands Project is the result of over 10 years of work and participation in over 13 grant cycles with funding from the Wildlife Conservation Board, California Department of Fish and Game, the Natural Resource Conservation Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Partners for Fish and Wildlife, California Coastal, Conservancy, California Department of Water Resources, Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Redwood Region Audubon Society and the Arcata Co-op Foundation. To complete the work on this property the City has partnered with the California Department of Fish and Game, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Redwood Community Action Agency, Jacoby Creek Land Trust, Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Humboldt Fish Action Council, Jacoby Creek School, and community volunteers. Funding for the most recent work came from a National Coastal Wetlands grant of $921,000, a California Coastal Conservancy grant of $70,000, and an Arcata Fish and Wildlife Coastal Program grant of $30,000.