New 2.5-mile segment of Bay Trail to open at Sears Point

Public invited to celebration & ribbon-cutting ceremony at site of Sears Point Wetland Restoration Project



Sonoma Land Trust, the San Francisco Bay Trail, and the San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge invite the community to join in the grand opening of the new 2.5-mile extension of the San Francisco Bay Trail, part of Sonoma Land Trust's Sears Point Wetland Restoration Project. The new segment of Bay Trail will open to the public Sunday, May 15, from 2-6pm; the entrance is located on Reclamation Road, south of the Highway 37/Lakeville Highway intersection.



"This new 2.5 mile segment of Bay Trail represents the best in collaboration, and highlights the myriad benefits that can accrue from wetland restoration. Between the Sonoma Land Trust and its many partners, the US Fish and Wildlife Service and ABAG's San Francisco Bay Trail Project, the public at large will be able to access yet another spectacular piece of the Bay shoreline," says Laura Thompson, San Francisco Bay Trail Project Manager.



The celebration will begin with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 2:30 with emcee Doug McConnell of NB's Open Road. Speakers will include U.S. Representative Mike Thompson's chief of staff Stephen Gale, Sonoma County Supervisor David Rabbitt, and representatives of Sonoma Land Trust, San Francisco Bay Trail, San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge and Nancy Wiseman of the Dickson Family, former owners of the ranch. Following the ribbon-cutting, the trail will be opened to the public and will remain open daily. McConnell will lead the first official hike down the trail.



"We are overjoyed to be sharing this long-planned trail with the community and to also be turning this property over to the San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge to manage for the future," says Dave Koehler, Sonoma Land Trust executive director. "This is the best access point to the bay in Sonoma County and people are really going to enjoy walking along here and watching the new tidal marsh evolve."



History of this Bay Trail segment

This new section of Bay Trail flanks the tidal wetlands at Sears Point, the focus of a marsh restoration project 10 years in the making. Last fall, Sonoma Land Trust breached the levee at Sears Point to allow the tides to return to 1,000 acres of land that were diked in the late 1800s. The new section of Bay Trail, part of a planned 500-mile path around the entire San Francisco Bay, will allow visitors to be steadfast witnesses to the growing marsh. The new trail will also link to the older 1.5-mile Bay Trail at Sonoma Baylands, which starts at Port Sonoma, creating up to a four-mile experience each way.

"This new 2.5 mile segment of Bay Trail represents the best in collaboration and highlights the myriad benefits that can accrue from wetland restoration," says Laura Thompson, San Francisco Bay Trail Project Manager. "Between the Sonoma Land Trust and its many partners, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and ABAG's San Francisco Bay Trail Project, the public at large will be able to access yet another spectacular piece of the Bay shoreline."



Launching new docent program

On May 15, docents and bird experts from the three organizations will be on hand to provide information to guests. The following Saturday, Sonoma Land Trust will launch a new Sears Point docent program. Every Saturday from 9am-noon, docents will be available to talk with visitors about the restoration project, tidal marsh ecology and wildlife found in the area. Introductory interpretive talks will occur each hour at 9am, 10am and 11am. Bird walks will begin at 9:15am, and will be followed by informal bird viewing and interpretation.



The May 15 event is open to the public and free of charge; attendees are asked to register online at sonomalandtrust.org. Straus Family Creamery is donating organic ice cream for attendees to enjoy throughout the afternoon while supplies last. Please, no dogs, bicycles or kayaks on this day.



"The addition of this restored land and public trail to the San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge is a testament to the vision of our partners at Sonoma Land Trust and the San Francisco Bay Trail," says Anne Morkill, manager of the San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge Complex for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "This extension of the Bay Trail on Refuge land will offer Bay Area residents exciting opportunities to experience wildlife and wild places for generations to come."



About Sonoma Land Trust

Sonoma Land Trust believes land is the foundation of our economy and our community's health and well-being. Since 1976, Sonoma Land Trust has protected nearly 50,000 acres of scenic, natural, agricultural and open land for future generations, and is accredited by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission. For more information, please visit www.baytrail.org.



About the San Francisco Bay Trail The San Francisco Bay Trail is a planned 500-mile walking and cycling path around the entire San Francisco Bay running through all nine Bay Area counties, 47 cities and across the region's seven toll bridges. With 345 miles in place, the Bay Trail connects communities to parks, open spaces, schools, transit and to each other, and also provides a great alternative commute corridor. The ultimate goal of the Bay Trail is to build a beautiful shoreline bicycle and pedestrian path for all to enjoy. Visit www.sonomalandtrust.org.



About the San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge

The San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge was created in 1974 in response to rapidly disappearing wetlands and a critical need to protect a prime location on the migratory bird Pacific Flyway. The Refuge and San Pablo Bay support the largest wintering population of canvasback ducks on the West Coast, and protect the endangered salt marsh harvest mouse and Ridgway's rail. Numerous other threatened species also depend on the area's marsh habitat for their survival, including 11 species of fish that make it their spawning grounds. For more information, go to http://www.fws.gov/refuge/san_pablo_bay/.