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CA - My Word | Ocean Ranch project to restore native habitat, improve access

Part of the mission of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife is to manage lands and restore habitats for the diverse native fish, wildlife and plants that call them home.

CDFW has an extensive, successful record on restoration statewide and the Ocean Ranch Restoration Project within CDFW’s Eel River Wildlife Area will be no exception.

The 850-acre Ocean Ranch Restoration Project is scheduled to begin sometime this summer. It will benefit native species and greatly improve public access and enjoyment of the property by establishing a formal trail system, improving parking — including adding more — building a launch for kayaks, canoes and other nonmotorized boats, and installing interpretive signage.

This project embodies CDFW’s vision for restored habitats, despite Uri Driscoll’s My Word column published Feb. 10 in the Times-Standard (“Wildlife area slated to be poisoned, burned, and bulldozed”). We believe the Humboldt County community deserves an accurate representation of this project.

While we agree that the area is visually “spectacular,” it is by no means “pristine.” The dunes and estuary are dominated by non-native plants, including European beachgrass and dense-flowered cordgrass. These aggressive, invasive species have transformed the landscape, displacing and out-competing native vegetation, diminishing biodiversity, reducing productivity of the salt marsh, degrading foraging habitat for native fish and wildlife, and reducing the variety of birds using the area, both native and visiting waterfowl and shorebirds.

As a result, natural resource professionals from CDFW, California State Parks, the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, as well as local land trusts and the Wiyot Tribe have taken action to reverse the spread of invasive species and restore native dunes and salt marsh in coastal Humboldt County.

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