MLK Regional Shoreline

Photo: Alan Hopkins

Restoration Brings Back Endangered Species

Over the past ten years, Save The Bay's Community-based Restoration projects at MLK have achieved astounding successes in both habitat enhancement and public education. Native plant populations in upper marshland habitat have been crucial in increasing population numbers of the California clapper rails and the salt marsh harvest mouse.

Much of Save The Bay's success within this shoreline park can be attributed to the year-round maintenance and continued restoration. Save the Bay's successful model includes the coupling of invasive plant removal with planting of natives.

The Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) Regional Shoreline, a part of the East Bay Regional Park District, is located in the Oakland Estuary at the southern end of San Leandro Bay. The Shoreline includes the mouths of five major creek systems and protects some of the last remaining wetland habitat in the East Bay, including Damon Slough and beautiful Arrowhead Marsh. This 50-acre marsh provides habitat to a host of species, including the burrowing owl and the endangered California clapper rail.

Arrowhead Marsh—a defining feature of the MLK shoreline—is said to have been formed in the late 1860's from huge amounts of sediment released into the watershed during the construction of the Lake Chabot Reservoir and from the logging of the San Antonio Forest. In 1986, the Port of Oakland was caught dumping fill onto the marsh, prompting Save The Bay, with Golden Gate Audubon Society and Sierra Club, to file a lawsuit, which secured $2.5 million for the restoration of this 72-acre wetland.

Photo: Brandon Andre

Save The Bay Restores the MLK Shoreline
In partnership with the East Bay Regional Park District, Save The Bay established a wetland restoration project at the park in 2000. In our Wetlands Native Plant Nursery, volunteers help grow site-specific native plants, and then plant them in the marsh to improve habitat for endangered species.

In partnership with the East Bay Regional Park District, Save The Bay established a wetland restoration project at the park in 2000. In 2002, volunteers helped build the on-site Native Plant Nursery to grow site-specific native plants for the marsh.

Goals of the restoration are:

  • Improve habitat for endangered species.
  • Work with schools, community groups, local organizations, and corporations to revegetate salt marsh habitat in the new restoration marsh and along Damon Slough

Native Plant Nurseries Aid in Successful Restoration Efforts

Save The Bay has an on-site plant propagation program to grow site specific plants, which saves us money and allows us to involve our volunteers in all stages of the restoration process. Save The Bay maintains a native plant nursery at MLK in partnership with East Bay Regional Park District and another nursery and in partnership with the City of Palo Alto in the Palo Alto Baylands. These nurseries provide plant material for all of our restoration locations. Currently, we are growing tens of thousands of native seedlings in our nurseries.

To grow site-specific plants, Save The Bay works with volunteers to collect native seeds and plant only native seedlings that are grown from seed collected within the watershed (or closest watershed with available seed). This is approach to restoration mimics the most natural native plant process.