The percentage of saltwater tidal wetlands remaining in the vast San Francisco Bay is small, perhaps just three to five percent. Regardless, John Muir Land Trust played a critical role in protecting this rare habitat when it purchased the 247-acre Pacheco Marsh, in a 2001 partnership with the East Bay Regional Park District and the Contra Costa County Flood Control District.
This former saltwater tidal marsh located within the lower delta of the Carquinez Strait Corridor is not currently open to the public, but JMLT plans are in progress to restore saltwater tidal flow to the marsh’s marine habitat and offer public access to a premier bird watching site.
Pacheco Marsh was originally part of a section of brackish marshland bordering the southwestern edge of Suisun Bay along the Walnut Creek channel. Tidal flow brought water and nutrients from Suisun Bay to the wildlife living there, but the property was eventually diked, cutting off the wildlife from these vital waters. JMLT plans to restore tidal flow to the property and recreate the habitat that several threatened bird species depended on, before the tidal marsh habitat was destroyed.
Several species of the threatened birds can be seen at Pacheco Marsh, including California black rail, California clapper rail and the Suisun song sparrow, as well as nesting Forster’s terns, foraging and roosting willets, and long-billed curlews. The marsh’s tidal channels are also home to several marine invertebrates and coastal fish.
During the winter, waterfowl such as northern shoveler and northern pintail rest and forage for food in Suisun Bay’s tidal pools, while American white pelicans use its wetlands to forage and roost. Come autumn and spring, shorebirds, including least sandpipers, western sandpipers, dunlin, American avocets and black-necked stilts, can also be found foraging and roosting in Suisun’s tidal pools. Once JMLT restores the habitat at Pacheco Marsh and creates public access to the area, visitors will be able to watch these birds in all their glory.
Note: Pacheco Marsh is not currently open to the public. Stay tuned for further announcements.