McDaniel Slough Restoration / Enhancement Project
The McDaniel Slough Restoration and Enhancement project's location takes advantage of one of the last, best opportunities on Humboldt Bay to restore coastal wetlands. The site, unconstrained by railroad tracks or Highway 101 which cuts off most of the Bay's former tidelands, affords easy passage for both water and wildlife. Humboldt Bay lost nearly 90% of its former wetlands due to historic large scale diking of tidal marshes. Today less than 1,000 acres of salt marsh remain. The McDaniel Slough project removes tidegates, deepens historic slough channels and removes failing or obsolete levees to restore 222 acres of former tidelands and 24.5 acres of freshwater wetlands. A variety of resident and migratory bird species will benefit from the project, as will the federally listed Coho and Chinook salmon, tidewater goby and steelhead, and state listed cutthroat trout.
The project will improve the area's ability to route floodwaters by increasing the stream and slough's channel capacity after tide gate removal. The resulting tidal scour will help move sediment and reduce or eliminate instream invasive vegetation. The project is designed to restore natural hydrologic process, be self-sustaining and accommodate sea level rise. Humboldt Bay waters are scheduled to be reintroduced to the project area sometime in 2013.
The McDaniel Slough project area is part of the larger Humboldt Bay ecosystem that sustains waterfowl, wading birds, shorebirds, fish and other water-associated wildlife. Humboldt Bay is second only to San Francisco Bay in the numbers and diversity of migratory waterbirds wintering along California's coastal Pacific Flyway. Humboldt Bay, including the mouth of the Eel River, hosts over 100,000 shorebirds every year. More than 200 species of birds have been recorded in the north Humboldt Bay area where the McDaniel Slough project is located.