In 2004, the Pinole Creek Watershed Vision Plan listed restoration of the Chelsea Wetlands as a possible opportunity. The City of Hercules has applied for a California River Parkways grant to restore five acres of this degraded seasonal wetlands to a functioning tidal wetlands.
These wetlands are situated near the mouth of Pinole Creek between the Union Pacific Railroad and the Chelsea By the Sea development. The lead agency for this project is the City of Hercules. This project is still in the planning stages, but a vision is taking shape.
Some of the goals of the restoration project include:
· Restore transition area between flood plain and Pinole Creek
· Restore the wetland aquatic and wetland transitional habitat for wide range of species
· Prevent pollutants and sedimentation from entering the bay
· Provide an additional 4 feet of water storage capacity to reduce flooding
Last year, the City of Hercules finalized grant agreements with the California Natural Resources Agency and the Environmental Protection Agency and Association of Bay Area Governments. In all, the Chelsea Wetlands Project has recieved several grants: $1.83 million from the Proposition 84 is the California River Parkways Program; $145,000 from the Green Infill Clean storm Water Initiative (EPA/ABAG), $56,200 from the Contra Costa County Fish and Wildlife Propagation Fund and $40,000 from the San Francisco Foundation. The City of Hercules has also contributed $128,000, bringing the project total to over $2.1 million.
Hercules wins back $1.8 million state wetlands grant as international duck organization steps forward
By Tom Lochner
Contra Costa Times
Posted: 07/24/2012 11:07:35 AM PDT
Updated: 07/24/2012 11:07:43 AM PDT
A $1.8 million state grant to restore Hercules' Chelsea Wetlands that was rescinded in May has been reinstated in a collaboration between the city, the state and several environmental organizations.
Under an agreement that will come before the City Council on Tuesday, the grant would be administered by Ducks Unlimited Inc., an organization that restores waterfowl habitat and promotes duck hunting throughout North America.
The city would be responsible for operation and maintenance once the project is complete, as it would have been under the original grant from the California Natural Resources Agency.
The 12-acre Chelsea Wetlands lies west of San Pablo Avenue between Santa Fe Avenue and the Pinole city line.
The state agency awarded Hercules a grant of $1,836,680 in September 2011 to restore the wetlands. The project received additional grants of $146,025 from the state and $56,200 from Contra Costa County, according to a city staff report.
But in May, the Natural Resources Agency rescinded its grant in light of a scathing audit by the state controller of the city's handling of state and federal funds that chastised Hercules for shoddy record-keeping and failure to fulfill requests for documents in a timely manner.
The audit raised fiscal accountability concerns, a Natural Resources Agency official said in justifying the termination of the wetlands grant.
City officials decried the state audit, saying it did not take into account that Hercules had addressed many of the problems the audit identified and replaced all five city council members as well as the city manager, city attorney and finance director since the audit period, which covered fiscal 2009-10.
After the Natural Resources Agency terminated the grant, City Manager Steve Duran said he and his staff contacted state legislators who represent Hercules, as well as environmental and government agencies such as Friends of Pinole Creek, Muir Heritage Land Trust, San Francisco Bay Joint Venture, Ducks Unlimited and the state Environmental Protection Agency. Duran credited that coalition for preserving the funding and saving the Hercules project by arranging for the Natural Resources Agency to make Ducks Unlimited the lead agency.
For updated information on this project see the page at the City of Hercules website.