Baduwa’t Estuary Restoration

Baduwa’t Estuary Restoration

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Project Goal:

Restore key salmonid off-channel rearing habitat and provide public access enhancements. The project will construct winter rearing coho habitat including an off-channel wetland and pond complex; and offer river access, overlooks, and an ADA accessible interpretive trail.

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Project Stages

Conceptual Design

Permitting Phase


Resource Collection

Impact Study



Estimated Completion Date:


Project Funders

State Coastal Conservancy (SCC)
NOAA Restoration Center

Fish Affected:

Project Description

The Baduwa't (today known as the Mad River) estuary historically had access to a broad floodplain which provided critical rearing habitat for juvenile fish and off-channel refugia. Upstream impacts from land management and infrastructure development have led to sediment and temperature impairments. Lower in the river, levees to protect infrastructure and agricultural properties create a linear system that disconnects the river from its floodplain and simplifies the estuary. Partnered with the landowner McKinleyville Community Services District, we will reconnect the lower Mad River to more than 4 acres of floodplain to improve key salmonid habitat. In addition, the project will enhance public access for the enjoyment of this coastal resource. The project is fully funded and will begin implementation in late summer of 2022.

The 9.3-acre project is located on property owned by the McKinleyville Community Services District (MCSD), a public agency who oversees water, wastewater, streetlights, library, recreation, and open space within the community of McKinleyville. The project area encompasses bluff and floodplain topographic features and is within MCSD’s permitted wastewater facility, which includes 4.3 acres of constructed percolation ponds alongside the river. The habitat restoration project area focal point is a pair of constructed percolation ponds for treated wastewater disposal that are leveed from the river’s floods and ringed with cyclone fencing to prohibit public access. These percolation ponds will be decommissioned and restored to riparian floodplain habitat. Within the restored floodplain a network of backwater ponds, wetlands, and channels will be provided that perennially connect to the Mad River and provide crucial off-channel winter rearing habitat for juvenile coho salmon.

The public access project will directly benefit the residents of McKinleyville, the region, and visitors to the region by providing an informational kiosk, interpretative signage, and universal access for a wide range of users such as casual walkers, hikers, birdwatchers, anglers, and cyclists. The project will also provide a lightly developed river access. The proposed trail will connect to School Road Trail and to the popular regional Hammond Trail - a part of the California Coastal Trail - that is used by local residents, Coastal Trail hikers, and touring cyclists.

Project Partners:

Wiyot Tribe
Northern Hydrology and Engineering
SHN Engineers & Geologists
Chris Turner
Redwood Coast Action Agency
McBain Associates
Trinity Associates

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