Reviving the Bay: The Transformation of a Former Salt Pond

On December 13, 2023, San Francisco Bay got 300 acres larger! In Menlo Park, a levee was intentionally breached at Bedwell Bayfront Park, releasing Bay water into Ravenswood, a series of former industrial salt ponds. The new marsh is the latest addition to the largest tidal wetland restoration project on the West Coast, the South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project (SBSRP). SBSRP is a multi-organization restoration project that could not have been accomplished without collaborative efforts of and not limited to the following partners: San Francisco Estuary Partnership, California State Coastal Conservancy, Ducks Unlimited, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, San Jose Conservation Corp, and West Bay Sanitary District.

Pond before the levee breach
Pond as the water was flowing in

On the edges of the latest levee breach at Ravenswood pond, Save The Bay’s Habitat Restoration Team (HRT) has restored 25 acres of wetland transition zone habitat split into two restoration projects: Ravenswood R4 levee and All American Canal (AAC). While tending to this land over the past three years, HRT has seen the seasonality of habitat restoration from sowing seeds in spring, clearing the slope of invasive plants during the summer/fall and finally, outplanting season during the winter.

Ravenswood R4 levee
Planting patch at the All American Canal

Though we have seen the seasons of habitat restoration at Bedwell Bayfront park, the levee breach has added another layer of excitement. Now that water is slowly inundating the ponds, what was once crusty soil will transform into a lush marshland habitat in the coming years. What does the levee breach mean to HRT? It’s an exciting time to see the transformation of vital habitat into its former glory. HRT will continue to tend to the land and see this transformation through many seasons!

Get involved at Ravenswood, or one of our other sites around the Bay, by signing up for a volunteer program.

Birds returned to the Ravenswood pond the day after the levee breach