Bolinas wye no more in lagoon restoration plan

03/08/2018

The county parks department is moving forward with plans to remove the shortcut road at the Bolinas wye and restore wetlands there to address roadway flooding, projected sea-level rise and habitat degradation. Meanwhile, the department says it will postpone finalizing two later phases of the project, citing high costs, the challenges of coordinating with landowner agencies and possible conflicts with existing ecological and cultural resources. Last week, the Board of Supervisors gave a green light to press ahead with the first phase of the North End Wetland Enhancement and Sea Level Rise Adaptation Project, which has been in the works since 2014. “Taken alone, phase 1 is financially feasible, has independent utility, requires the least amount of disruption to the environment and the community, and would result in the immediate benefits to the community upon completion,” the parks department’s report states. County planner Veronica Pearson said there were three alternatives in the conceptual design report for the second and third phases, but that the first phase is identical in all the options, simplifying matters. She also said the majority of the lands involved in the first step are owned by the county itself, while the other phases include other areas of the Wilkins Gulch Creek and Lewis Gulch Creek watersheds that are managed by the National Park Service. In particular, the second phase would alter the nearby Wilkins Ranch, which the park service protects as a “cultural landscape” due to its historic use as a working ranch. The first phase will take out the stretch of road connecting Highway 1 and the Olema-Bolinas Road and reconfigure their intersection. It will also include strategies to improve the hydrologic processes and connectivity of the Bolinas Lagoon and enhance fish passage in Lewis Gulch Creek, which floods the roads in rainy months. (The creek was redirected to run on the west side of Highway 1 and the Olema-Bolinas Road when the roads were built, though historically it ran to the east and directly into the lagoon.) The department may also upgrade a culvert under the highway, raise a small stretch of the Olema-Bolinas Road and add a bridge and a new culvert there so stream water can flow underneath it into the lagoon. The estimated design and environmental review costs will be $500,000; the open space district has applied for a Proposition 1 grant from the California Coastal Conservancy for around half of that, with the remaining likely coming in part from Measure A funds. Construction, which Ms. Pearson said may start as early as 2021, could cost between $5 million and $10 million, which the staff report states will be covered with Prop 1 funds, federal grants and “any future statewide park bonds that become available.”