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The Dutch Slough Tidal Marsh Restoration Project site, located in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta near Oakley, California. DWR/2021

CA - How East Bay tidal marsh Dutch Slough is becoming a living lab key in the fight against climate change

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- For project manager Katie Bandy, little Dutch Slough is a big success story. The California Department of Water Resources and its partners are restoring a vibrant tidal marsh in an ongoing project ultimately stretching across more than 1,100 acres near Oakley, in eastern Contra Costa County. The site is quickly becoming a powerful living laboratory for climate and environmental research.

"We have a lot that we can learn from this site, whether it's carbon sequestration. Soil accretion, things like what species are using our sites," Bandy points out.

For researchers like Ariane Arias-Ortiz, Ph.D., from the UC Berkeley Biometeorology Lab, the slough is already generating valuable data that could help in the fight against climate change. It's gleaned from sensors placed on a three-level tower that monitor Co2, methane and other variables to help determine the levels of greenhouse gasses being sequestered by the tidal marsh.

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"The thing is that wetlands, they have water. So these organic matter or this plant matters that the posit dome soils stay there for long term, meaning that all the Co2 doesn't go back to the atmosphere, but gets stored in the ground," explains Arias-Ortiz.

And in a nod to citizen science, she's also enlisted the help of local students to bury tea bags in the marsh, to help measure how well the organic matter helps carbon decompose.

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Dutch Slough Tidal Restoration Project

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Nearby, a separate group of researchers from UC Davis led by Jason Riggio, Ph.D., are placing ground covers that will ultimately attract some of the creatures they want to study, to learn more about their relationship to the wetlands.

"We are serving across all vertebrate species. So birds bats, larger mammals with camera traps, anything with a backbone that moves through this marsh, we're trying to find out where they are and how they're using this habitat," says Riggio.

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