Marine Conservation, Wildlife, and Recreation Area proposed for General Plan

The City of Alameda is in the process of updating its General Plan.  The current draft of the updated plan draws attention to wildlife habitat, a welcome addition.  However, it misses the largest contiguous wildlife habitat in all of Alameda – that is, the waterway on the south side of Alameda Point.  

To address this oversight, a proposal supported by stakeholders listed below has been submitted to the City recommending a policy that brings together both the habitat values and the recreational values of this area.  The proposal calls for designating the area as the Alameda Point Marine Conservation, Wildlife, and Recreation Area.  This area includes the deepwater ship channel, the ship harbor, the harbor extending to the mudflat and beach, and the rock walls and rocky shoreline.

This waterway hosts a complex web of life, from the creatures and vegetation living in the seabed sediment and on the rock walls and rocky shoreline, to the fish, marine mammals and birds that depend on it for food, resting, reproducing and raising offspring.  This waterway also is popular with non-motorized water sports enthusiasts.  It is unique among the open space areas of Alameda and deserves special recognition not only because of its multiple values to the community, but also because “water” is part of Alameda’s identity. Continue reading “Marine Conservation, Wildlife, and Recreation Area proposed for General Plan”

Makani Energy lost its green

Makani Energy, the developer of the flying kite that produces energy, is no longer being funded by the green dollars from Google’s parent company Alphabet.  The announcement from Alphabet came in February 2020.  Soon thereafter, an auction sign appeared at the entrance to the hangar it was leasing at the corner of West Tower Avenue and Monarch Street at Alameda Point. 

“Makani’s exit from Alphabet may have been hastened by the mixed results in test flights off the coast of Norway in September last year,” wrote Jason Deign, May 22, 2020, on Green Tech Media. “In the second flight, the 600-kilowatt Makani generator was unable to make it back onto its offshore launch platform and crashed into the sea.” Continue reading “Makani Energy lost its green”

Seaplane Lagoon Ferry Terminal and Bay Trail updates – Oct. 1, 2020

The Seaplane Lagoon Ferry Terminal construction and a section of the Bay Trail are completed.   The trail is open, but the opening of the ferry terminal is delayed due to the impact of COVID-19 on ridership.  Details below.

Ferry terminal temporarily unopened 

The Seaplane Lagoon Ferry Terminal was completed in August, but the opening is on hold until ferry ridership to San Francisco is back up post Covid.  Details and a sign-up option for email updates are on a special webpage called Seaplane Shift.   When service begins at the Seaplane Lagoon terminal, ferry service will continue at the Main Street Ferry Terminal, but the routes and schedules will change.

Fun facts about the new terminal: Continue reading “Seaplane Lagoon Ferry Terminal and Bay Trail updates – Oct. 1, 2020”

City to seek funding for wetland park at Alameda Point

The proposed ecological wetland park at Alameda Point, known as DePave Park, is another step closer to becoming a reality.  On Sept. 15, 2020, four members of the city council gave thumbs up to moving forward with seeking a $2 million grant to pay for a master planning process.

“I am super-stoked about this project; it’s better than I ever imagined,” said Councilmember Jim Oddie, who has led recent efforts at City Hall to get action on this park.  “I was really touched when I saw the drawing.  I broke down in tears it was so beautiful.”

As currently envisioned, park construction will entail removing old pavement and softening the edge of the western side of the Seaplane Lagoon which will allow water into the park and become adaptable to sea level rise.  A tidal channel through the park will connect the Seaplane Lagoon with the existing wetland on the federal property, thereby creating a combined wetland ecosystem with multiplied benefits. Continue reading “City to seek funding for wetland park at Alameda Point”

Navy digs up petroleum contamination in rare cleanup action

Cleaning up petroleum contamination in soil and groundwater is pretty straightforward.  It is usually accomplished by one or more tried-and-proven methods that rely on inserting PVC pipe into the contamination zone for treatment.  But multiple efforts outside the sprawling Building 5 hangar complex on West Tower Avenue at Alameda Point failed to reduce contamination to regulatory goals.  In August 2020, after almost two decades of investigation and treatment efforts, the Navy resorted to a rarely used option of digging up all of the soil down to the water table and hauling most of it away.

Building 5 was the location of the Navy’s plane refurbishing and overhaul facility where thousands of civilians worked.  It was known as the Naval Air Rework Facility.  Before an airplane was moved into the hangar, it underwent de-fueling, flushing out fuel lines and cleaning various components with products akin to paint thinner.  This preparatory work was the source of the contamination in the soil and groundwater near the big hangar doors. Continue reading “Navy digs up petroleum contamination in rare cleanup action”

Wetland contract awarded for Alameda Point

On August 7, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers awarded a services contract to Adanta, Inc. of Napa to expand and enhance an existing wetland on the Veterans Affairs (VA) property at Alameda Point.  The wetland project is being implemented to offset impacts to wetland areas elsewhere on the VA property where a health clinic, offices and a columbarium cemetery will be built.

“The four-year services contract, valued at up to $2,373,044, includes development, seed collection, propagation, restoration, and enhancement to ensure the wetland is completely established as a self-sustaining tidal marsh at the VA Alameda Point site,” states the Corps of Engineers August 14 news release.  “In total, 8 acres of new tidal marsh will be installed and established, as will 3.3 acres of tidal transitional habitat; and 14.8 acres of existing tidal wetland will be enhanced.”  Seed collection and preparation is scheduled to start this summer.  The work is expected to be completed in 2025.

One-third of the wetland impacts of the VA project will not be offset at Alameda Point.  The Corps of Engineers will purchase credits in the San Francisco Bay Wetland Mitigation Bank for 3.6 acres of impacts.  The mitigation bank manages a wetland restoration project in Redwood City funded by Bay Area projects that impact wetlands.  The credit purchase detail is not mentioned in the news release. Continue reading “Wetland contract awarded for Alameda Point”

New generation of Great Blue Herons born in cypress rookery

The cypress trees in the wetland near the proposed DePave Park at Alameda Point have served as a safe and secure nesting site for Great Blue Herons for many years.  This year is no exception, despite the trees having died and barely standing.  On May 7, Audubon Society bird observer Dawn Lemoine counted 13 juveniles in the nests.

The wetland around the cypress trees provides the ideal landing spot for the young herons’ first flight and subsequent adaptation to life outside the nest.  They can be seen for the first week or so after leaving the nest hanging out in the wetland preening and sunning themselves. Continue reading “New generation of Great Blue Herons born in cypress rookery”