Boats, Birds And A Billion Oysters At City Of Water Day

To the north, under a Sonoma Coast blue sky, a crowd gathers on the water’s edge of 1,000 acres of dried-up hayfield to see a little miracle. For a century, an earthen levee has blocked the bay. Today, in a return to the way it was before the Gold Rush, the onlookers have come to see the rebirth of tidal marsh and its age-old functions of quelling high tides, filtering pollutants and enriching aquatic life. An excavator bites away at the levee. The last of the barrier disappears, and waves roll over the dry land for the first time in more than 100 years. We can almost hear the baked earth suck up the bay. Cheering and clapping is the little band of residents, some with the nonprofit Sonoma Land Trust, and the government dignitaries who worked to make it happen. Onlookers wipe away tears, and some shout out names of deceased environmentalists who fought for the project over a dozen years. In a tip of the wing from the avian community, a murmuration of sandpipers swirls and dips above the rushing tide. Water slowly snakes inland to flood the ground peppered with plugs of native pickleweed seeds, and ducks dive for emerging aquatic bugs. Tidal marsh is revived on ecological treasures such as Bair Island, which might have been paved for office buildings. I ponder what a baby born today will see here in 30 years.

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