Conservationists to study restoring Mission Bay marsh

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SAN DIEGO — The San Diego Audubon Society received a $460,000 grant from California Coastal Conservancy to fund a study, which is the first step to eventually expanding or improving the tidal marsh and mudflat habitats near Mission Bay, the group announced Tuesday.

Officials with the San Diego Audubon Society said the multi-year restoration planning effort known as the Mission Bay Wetland Feasibility Study would lead to a broader effort to protect and restore salt marsh habitat in the northeast corner of Mission Bay. Researchers will also seek out ways to re- establish the connection between Rose Creek and the Kendall Frost Marsh Reserve in Mission Bay.

Mission Bay“This is an unprecedented opportunity, not only for the city, but for the entire region,” San Diego Audubon’s conservation committee Chair Jim Peugh said. “Nowhere else in Southern California is there a potential for such a large scale wetland restoration project, especially one immediately adjacent to healthy, existing marsh.”

The project will bring together UC San Diego, the Rose Creek Watershed Alliance, Beautiful PB and Friends of Mission Bay Marshes along with a technical advisory committee, an environmental consulting firm and others to to design a set of conceptual restoration approaches, according to the Audubon Society.

“The state Coastal Conservancy grant places San Diego Audubon in a leadership role in planning for a regionally-significant wetlands restoration project in an area where we have played an active advocacy role for decades,” San Diego Audubon Executive Director Chris Redfern said.

San Diego Audubon officials said that ultimately expanding at least 100 acres of the marsh would increase the wetland’s scope of ecosystem services, including coastline stabilization, water quality improvement and as a buffer against future sea level rise. The expansion also would expand opportunities for education, research, recreation and community engagement.