|From:||CPEO Moderator <firstname.lastname@example.org>|
|Date:||1 Oct 2003 15:40:56 -0000|
|Subject:||[CPEO-MEF] Airstrip wetlands restoration deal reached|
MARIN INDEPENDENT JOURNAL
Airstrip wetlands restoration deal reached
By Mark Prado
October 1, 2003
After years of wrangling, it came down to the 11th hour before federal and state officials got together yesterday to sign papers to turn over the former Hamilton Airfield to the Coastal Conservancy, clearing the way for a massive wetlands restoration project.
Today, key federal funds needed for the project were set to expire if the transfer was not complete. So yesterday's transfer of the 630-acre site was cause for celebration among the myriad people and agencies that worked to bring the deal to fruition.
"This will become one of the largest and most environmentally vital wetlands in the state," said Assemblyman Joe Nation, D-San Rafael, speaking to a group of 75 people at Hangar No. 5 at Hamilton where the transfer was announced. "It is a remarkable accomplishment to turn a former Army Airfield into a living habitat for native species."
Ball fields, a polo field and even a skate park were bandied about as potential uses for the site over the years. But a cadre of environmental groups and state agencies were determined to return the area to what it once was: a sprawling wetlands filled with a diverse menu of species and migrating waterfowl.
Gov. Gray Davis, who approved the transfer, said in a statement: "These former Bay mudflats, diked and drained a century ago for hayfields, will create one of the largest contiguous wetlands in the state, stretching from Marin County to Vallejo. The area will provide vital habitat for endangered and threatened species - waterfowl and shorebirds migrating along the Pacific flyway, and migratory fish species such as salmon and steelhead."
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