Pontoon used to stop sediment loss

Published online: Dec 13, 2010 News Donna Jones - Santa Cruz Sentinel
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MOSS LANDING - A crowd of harbor seals rested on the pickleweed at the edge of the water in Elkhorn Slough. A sea otter floated on its back, tucking into a large clam. A gull landed nearby, hoping to snag scraps from the otter's meal.

Wednesday morning, as the pontoon boat, The Safari, motored toward Parsons Slough, where a $6 million conservation project is underway, passengers also glimpsed grebes and egrets and a great blue heron, a small sampling of the hundreds of bird species that make Elkhorn their home or a stop on their yearly migrations.

"It gives you a sense of what's at stake here," said Bryan Largay, director of the Elkhorn Slough Tidal Wetland Project.

The project, the fruit of years of research, planning and collaboration among nonprofit and governmental agencies, seeks to slow down the tides that are eroding crucial habitat.

At bottom, mud is the treasure upon which a wealth of slough wildlife rests. It provides habitat for the clams and innkeeper worms and the foundation of the salt marshes, which, with their winding channels and overhanging banks, form a protective environment for small fish and crabs.

Ultimately, it's those small creatures that feed the birds and marine mammals.

But historic human activities, including draining land for agriculture and the opening of the harbor mouth in Moss Landing in 1947, changed the tidal forces. 

Read more at http://www.mercurynews.com/breaking-news/ci_16810659?nclick_check=1

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