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Dredged Muck to Be Used for Wetland

December 13, 2000|From Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO — Millions of tons of muck dredged from San Francisco Bay to keep shipping channels clear will go toward building a wetland north of the bay.

The 200,000 truckloads of mud, sand and other waste will be shipped to Hamilton Air Force Base in Marin County, where it could make thousands of acres of wetlands, instead of being dumped near Alcatraz and other bay dump sites.

The Bay Conservation and Development Commission approved the policy, which has pleased fishermen, who have complained that dumping the muck keeps the bay muddy for most of the year and interferes with the bass and salmon seasons.

The Port of Oakland plans to dredge 12 million cubic yards of muck to deepen its shipping channel to allow ships to travel to and from the port during low tide. Officials hope to use the muck in an experimental shallow wetlands restoration project on a section of property the port no longer uses.

But environmentalists say that shallow wetlands are unproved and do not actually provide new habitat for fish or sea grass.

The bay commission is expected to vote on the port's dredging plan later this month. If it does not approve the plan, the port must pay for the muck to be shipped to the north bay or to a dump site 55 miles out in the ocean.

The Hamilton wetlands restoration probably will not be designed for another year and will take about a decade to take shape.

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