By Diana Dunn
Ten months ago, Chris Lim, The Watershed Project’s Living Shoreline Program Manager, and I caught ourselves daydreaming as a cement mixer droned on. We had just lifted our first three reef balls off of their platforms, and after a few back breaking attempts, we established that moving them was going to be one of the largest hurdles we would have to overcome in this whole process. From that moment on, we started developing harebrained schemes of contraptions and floats that would enable us to deploy the reef balls into the San Francisco Bay. But as visions of homemade hoists danced in our heads we were saved by the many heroes of Dixon Marine Services, Inc.
Dixon Marine is nestled in the small town of Inverness and provides a wide range of services from remediation and restoration projects on the water to water quality and sediment sampling. Needless to say, the founders of Dixon Marine, Rebecca Dixon and Mark Sutton, have a team and set of equipment with a wide range of specialties. The Watershed Project was so grateful when Mark offered to send a crew out, free of charge, to our office at the Richmond Field Station and not only load up the reef balls, but float them out and place them into the bay.
The “crew” that had to do all the heavy lifting was actually a team of two. One was Ethan Livingston, whom I met as he hopped out the cab of one of Dixon Marine’s large flatbed trucks. Before saying anything, Ethan quickly surveyed our makeshift oyster reef manufacturing plant.
“So how many of these are there?” Ethan asked as scratched his 5 o’clock shadow.
I explained that with the tremendous help of many volunteers, we were able to build over 100 reef balls. However, because our initial building days were filled with mishaps, some of the reef balls hadn’t been constructed as well.
Now intrigued by what I had said, Ethan removed his sunglasses and placed them on his weather worn baseball cap, asking “Wow, so you actually had volunteers come out and help you build them?”
I expressed to Ethan that one of the main components of our native oyster restoration project is engaging local volunteers, both adults and students. I told him that we held over 30 community workdays, and had a total of 40 volunteers donated a total of 225 hours to our program.
“Are you sad to the reef balls go?” Ethan asked before starting his monumental task of moving 100 reef balls.
Taking a few seconds to think about it, I told him that our project, and others such as the Living Shorelines: Nearshore Linkages Project in San Rafael and Hayward are guided by the San Francisco Subtidal Habitat Goals Report. These projects are a small step toward the total goal of restoring 8,000 acres of oyster habitat. I let him know that it will be tough to see them go, but I’m excited to see what changes they will create in our bay and in the community.
Dixon Marine Services, Inc. was in large part the reason this project was achievable. Without their donated time and equipment, Chris Lim and I would still be daydreaming of a better San Francisco Bay full of oyster reef balls. Many thanks to everyone at Dixon Marine!
Photo Credit of Ethan Livingston: Dan Honda, Bay Area News Group