There is only one thing I have done in my life that will last hundreds of years. It will still be there for my great-great-great-grandchildren to witness and appreciate in the future, and it will do wonders for the San Francisco Bay. The project that I am so very proud to have been a part of is the building of artificial oyster reefs that were recently placed in the Bay at Point Pinole in Richmond.
I joined The Watershed Project team as an intern in May of 2013, and I was amazed at three things when I started. Firstly, how quickly I was able to become immersed in the project and get my hands dirty learning how to make these reef balls. Secondly, that this native oyster reef was nearly three years in the making because of the incredible amount coordination required between different groups. Paperwork, permissions, funding sources, and very specific material restrictions on what we could and could not use in the reef construction made The Watershed Project’s vision for a better bay a challenging feat to accomplish. Lastly, I was amazed by the commitment of my program manager, Chris Lim, not only to the project, but to making it a community effort. He was constantly talking to and encouraging volunteers to come out and help us make these reefs. His dedication to ensuring this project was to be a community educational tool has never faltered from day one. This project was literally built for the public good by a motivated group of community volunteers, and this is largely due to Christopher Lim.
When I started, there were 30 reef balls built. Over the summer months, we continued to build over 70 more with the help of many hands from volunteers. When I explain the reef-making process of shoveling sand and shell by hand into truck beds, loading the proper amounts of each ingredient into the mixer, scooping wet cement by hand into buckets and dumping them into one mold at a time, and then coming back two days later to move the 250 lb behemoths and start over again, it sounds tedious and monotonous. It was not. It was, hands down, some of the most rewarding work I have ever done in my life. And in November, I was lucky enough to watch the reef balls get dropped into the San Francisco Bay at Point Pinole, knowing full well that I was part of something much bigger than myself. I am confident that the reefs will do well at recruiting native Olympia oysters, and successfully inspiring countless visitors over centuries who get the chance to witness what spectacular things can come from a just a humble shellfish.