Sampling for fish in the muted tidal basinSampling for fish in the Muted Tidal Basin.
Photo by Merkel & Associates
In 1996, eight state and federal agencies entered into an agreement to conduct wetland acquisition and restoration at the Bolsa Chica Lowlands. Following project planning, land purchase, restoration design, permit acquisition, and publication of a Final Environmental Impact Statement/Final Environmental Impact Report, restoration construction began on October 6, 2004. The project involved the creation of a Full Tidal Basin (FTB) and restoration of Muted Tidal Basins (MTB) by constructing an ocean inlet north of Huntington Mesa.

flatfish measurementMeasuring a California Halibut.
Photo by Merkel & Associates
To create the FTB, approximately 1.57 million m3 of material were excavated from within the Bolsa Chica Lowlands to create a basin of a general depth of –1m NAVD, bounded by intertidal flats. The excavated sand was distributed on the adjacent beaches and placed offshore to form an ebb bar outside of the future inlet. Material was also placed to form the berms that bound the FTB basin and three avian nesting areas. Jetties were constructed to form the ocean inlet to the FTB, which was opened to the ocean on August 24, 2006.

The Bolsa Chica Lowland Restoration Project Biological Monitoring and Follow-up Plan was prepared by the US Fish and Wildlife Service in 2001 to monitor the effects of the restoration. Responsibility for implementation of the plan before and during construction was held by the USFWS. Long-term responsibility for implementation of the Monitoring Plan was assumed post-construction by the California State Lands Commission. The purpose of the monitoring program was to document the habitat improvements for fish and wildlife, the result of revegetation efforts, the use of the site by endangered species, and to ensure the inlet was properly maintained, constructed nesting areas had adequate maintenance, the rare plant Coast Woolly Heads was protected, and that construction impacts to Belding’s Savannah Sparrow were minimized and offset through post-construction improvements to marsh habitat. The monitoring program also allowed for the evaluation of project objectives established in the accepted project design that was evaluated in the project Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement and approved by federal, state, and local agencies.

Ring toss "Ring toss" method of counting small benthic animals.
Photo by Merkel & Associates
The State Lands Commission contracted Merkel & Associates, Inc. and its team to implement the Biological and Beach Monitoring Plans. The monitoring team included Merkel & Associates, Moffatt & Nichol Engineers, Coastal Frontiers, and Chambers Group, Inc. The ten-year post-restoration monitoring program was conducted from October 2007 to September 2016. All reports generated from this program are provided in the menu to the right (or below if viewed on a mobile device). In addition, available reports on nesting Western Snowy Plovers since 2002 at Bolsa Chica are provided.