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Richardson Bay agency secures $2.8-mil grant for eelgrass revival

The Richardson Bay Regional Agency has won $2.78 million in federal funding to restore and monitor eelgrass in Richardson Bay. The grant from the Environmental Protection Agency’s San Francisco Bay Water Quality Improvement Fund will be used to restore 15 acres of damaged eelgrass beds off the shores of Sausalito over the next four years with associated outreach, education and habitat monitoring, agency staff said. “This is a transformative grant that is going to let us accomplish our goals of restoring eelgrass in Richardson Bay,” said agency Executive Director Brad Gross.

He announced the grant at the agency board’s June 8 meeting, where board members voted unanimously to accept the grant and amend the fiscal year 2023-2024 budget to include it.

The project will attempt to restore some of the ecologically vital eelgrass lost to anchor-scour on the bay. Boats anchored out long-term in Richardson Bay have carved circles in the eelgrass beds as their ground tackle swings with the tides, environmentalists say.

Under a settlement agreement with the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission, the agency has committed to removing all vessels from an eelgrass-protection zone by 2024 and taking all long-term liveaboard boats off the bay by 2026. The agency has agreed to restore and monitor the beds going forward over the next 10 years.

The grant will allow the agency to hire scientists at the Estuary & Ocean Science Center in Tiburon to replant some of the scars. Other local environmentalists involved in the project include Audubon California and Coastal Policy Solutions headed by Rebecca Schwartz-Lesberg.

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