Arcata Baylands Project

Restoration and Enhancement Project

Completed: Ongoing

Overview

  • Project acquired 217 acres of former coastal wetland habitat between Highway 101 and Old Arcata Road.
  • With adjoining Land Trust, Sanctuary and Wildlife Refuge lands, creates 1,300 continuous acres of protected habitat for wetland birds, fish, crustaceans and amphibians.

To learn more about the Jacoby Creek Water Sustainability and Anadromous Fish Habitat Enhancement Feasibility Study visit the Jacoby Creek Land Trust webpage.

History/Location

Over the last century and a half, California's coastal wetlands have diminished by over 90% due to human development. Within these diverse salt, brackish, and freshwater habitats once thrived essential ecosystems vital for the survival of species such as the Coho and Chinook salmon, the tidewater goby, as well as numerous crustaceans and amphibians. 

The Jacoby Creek Gannon Slough Wildlife Area, now owned by the City of Arcata, was established over an 11-year period between 2002 and 2013. The permanently protected public land area is also known as the Arcata Baylands Project. The 600-acre City owned wildlife area was dedicated on November 9, 2007. 

To protect and restore coastal wetland habitats the Arcata Baylands Restoration and Enhancement Project acquired 217 acres along North Humboldt Bay. The project restored and enhanced wetland, riparian and stream habitat on 127 of those acres. The project area sits adjacent or nearby Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge lands, the Arcata Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary, the Mad River Slough Wildlife Area and Jacoby Creek Land Trust holdings, making a continuous, protected habitat area of over 1,300 acres.

Restoration Enhancements

Since the City acquired the lands, there have been numerous enhancements to the property that include billboard removal, removal and replacement of culverts with some replaced with bridges for ranch maintenance vehicles and livestock; construction of 8.7 acres of shallow wetland ponds; riparian plant9ing and cattle exclusion fencing along 2 miles of Gannon Slough watercourses; reconstruction (naturalizing) of 0.9 miles of channelized stream segments on Bleith, Grotzman and Campbell Creek to facilitate fish passage at the Community Park segment north of Samoa Blvd. Two large fish friendly tide gates were installed on Gannon Slough that increased drainage capacity in the Jacoby Creek/Gannon Slough basin. In 2006, the City relinquished a 140-acre-ft/yr. water right on the maintenance of Jacoby Creek to reserve the water for instream flow for public trust resources.   

In 2011 the North Jacoby Tidal Marsh Project created 13.6-acre estuary on the north side of the Jacoby Creek that greatly expanded the very limited estuarine habitat in Jacoby Creek. In 2018, the South Jacoby Wetlands Project restored connectivity between Jacoby Creek and its floodplain, reducing fish standing potential and created an 11-acre freshwater marsh and channel wetland complex over an approximately 30-1acre project area. Grazing has been used to maintain and enhance waterfowl use including Aleutian cackling geese which have significantly increased in numbers since the establishment of the wildlife area.

Partnership and Funding

The Arcata Baylands Project is the result of over 20 years of work and participation in over 19 grant cycles with funding from the Wildlife Conservation Board, California Department of Fish and Game, the Natural Resource Conservation Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Partners for Fish and Wildlife, California Coastal, Conservancy, California Department of Water Resources, Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Redwood Region Audubon Society and the Arcata Co-op Foundation. To complete the work on this property the City has partnered with the California Department of Fish and Game, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Redwood Community Action Agency, Jacoby Creek Land Trust, Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Humboldt Fish Action Council, Jacoby Creek School, and community volunteers. Funding for the most recent work came from a National Coastal Wetlands grant of $921,000, a California Coastal Conservancy grant of $70,000, and an Arcata Fish and Wildlife Coastal Program grant of $30,000.