Bolinas Lagoon Restoration

Bolinas Lagoon landscape

Bolinas Lagoon is a world-renowned tidal estuary with unique habitats and ecosystem services that support wildlife and people. Due to historical impacts to the lagoon and worsening climate change impacts, there is a great need to support the natural resilience of the lagoon’s habitats through targeted conservation and restoration projects. Greater Farallones Association works in partnership with Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary to implement a holistic ecosystem approach to restoration of the Lagoon with a shared vision of sustainability and resilience. The 2008 Bolinas Lagoon Ecosystem Restoration Project: Recommendations for Restoration and Management (Locally Preferred Plan), developed through a working group of scientists, local stakeholders, environmental groups, and state and federal agencies, guides these efforts. Together, GFA and its partners prioritize and implement projects from the Locally Preferred Plan to protect the lagoon’s current resources and strengthen its resilience and adaptability to future changes.

For over ten years we have worked to implement projects and, thanks to support from local Stinson Beach, Seadrift, and Bolinas communities, we continue to achieve significant restoration success. Learn about our South End Living Shorelines Project and other Bolinas Lagoon and Stinson Beach Coastal Resilience Projects below.

For more information about the program, visit Past Lectures and Meetings and read previous issues of the Bolinas Lagoon Bulletin.

South End Living Shorelines Project

San Andreas Fault

Wetland and transitional marsh (gradual blending of habitat types from intertidal to upland) provide critical habitat and are crucial for protecting wildlife from the impacts of flooding and erosion, yet they continue to degrade and are increasingly threatened by climate change. Historical impacts at Bolinas Lagoon have diminished much of its wetland and marsh habitat. Most of Bolinas Lagoon’s perimeter is hardened by development, which limits the width of shoreline habitat and restricts its ability to shift upslope as water levels rise. This results in a loss of transition zones, and increasingly eroding and unnaturally steep shorelines. Climate change is exacerbating this erosion and habitat loss through sea-level rise and increased precipitation and storm events. 

Enhancing the existing shoreline and restoring transitional marsh is critical for the long-term health and resilience of Bolinas Lagoon and its wildlife. Greater Farallones Association and Greater Farallones and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuaries are co-leading the South End Living Shorelines Project to enhance important wetland and upland marsh along the Dipsea Road and Calle del Arroyo Road shoreline, one of the only remaining locations with adequate space to accommodate transitional habitat. Wildlife and human communities in this area already face impacts from flooding and erosion, and this project will reconnect and rebuild those critical habitats to not only improve the lagoon’s southern shoreline, but the overall health and resilience of the Bolinas Lagoon ecosystem. See the 2019 Technical Memo.

What Is a Living Shoreline?

Living shorelines encompass a range of strategies for protecting and restoring important transitional marsh and wetland habitat along estuaries, bays, tributaries, and other sheltered coastal systems. These innovative techniques utilize natural construction materials (native plants, woody debris) to help habitats adapt to future environmental impacts while preserving ecosystem services. Greater Farallones Association prioritizes implementation of living shorelines to protect and safeguard sanctuary coastlines against future changes. Nature-based methods provide several benefits to our marine resources including:

  • Refuge, food, nesting and nursery sites for fish and wildlife;
  • Connectivity between upland habitat and water resources;
  • Protection against flooding from storm surge and sea-level rise;
  • Improved water quality by filtering runoff pollution;
  • Carbon capture and storage; and
  • Enhanced recreation, education, and wildlife viewing opportunities.
An illustrated map demonstrating where coastal resillience projects are currently underway or planned within Bolinas Lagoon.