Secret’s Out—Elkhorn Slough is an International Treasure!
Deputy Regional Director Jody Hozworth of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, California State Senator Bill Monning, Executive Director of Elkhorn Slough Foundation Mark Silberstein, Elkhorn Slough Reserve Manager Dave Feliz, State Assembly Member Mark Stone, Congressman Jimmy Panetta, and Nicole LeBoeuf, acting director of NOAA’s National Ocean Service, were among those who gathered at Elkhorn Slough to celebrate its designation as a Wetland of International Importance. Photo courtesy Hazel Rodriguez/USFWS.
We always knew that California’s Elkhorn Slough was an extraordinary place and now the rest of the world does, too! On October 5, the Slough was designated as a Wetland of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. It joins a network of 38 wetlands in the U.S. and more than 2,330 worldwide that was formed as a result of one of the oldest environmental treaties, the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, adopted in Ramsar, Iran, in 1971.
Beautiful weather, wildlife, and long-time champions of the Slough turned out to commemorate the event. “I am proud that Elkhorn Slough is being recognized internationally for what we on the central coast of California have long known, that this wetland is an environmental crown jewel,” said California Congressman Jimmy Panetta. “This designation is a reminder of the importance of protecting the diverse wildlife and conserving these waters for future generations to enjoy.”
Elkhorn Slough covers more than 1,700 acres and is home to thousands of migratory shorebirds, fish, invertebrates, and marine mammals. It attracts visitors from across the globe for work, play, and study. “Every day, hundreds of people from kayakers to birdwatchers and other visitors enjoy the sea otters, seals, fish, shorebirds, eelgrass beds, and marshes of the Elkhorn Slough,” observed Mark Silberstein, executive director of the Elkhorn Slough Foundation.
The Foundation and the Elkhorn Slough Reserve hosted the designation ceremony at the Hester Marsh Restoration site, a $6.5 million, 61-acre wetland restoration project that is providing the elevation needed to help the marsh withstand changes in sea level over the next century. Without restoration, the Slough’s remaining marshes are projected to drown within 50 years due to sea level rise.
“The wetlands at Elkhorn Slough, just like those at every Reserve in our system, benefit all of us,” says Rebecca Roth, NERRA executive director. “Reserves protect more than 1.4 million acres of beautiful coastal land that we can experience and enjoy in many ways. Teachers, students, families, businesses, communities all rely on their Reserves to help us understand and manage estuarine environments.”