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In September 2002, the University of California, Berkeley, began remediation work at the RFS to clean up legacy pollution from industrial activities that occurred prior to UC ownership of the land. While much of the south Richmond Shoreline was historically heavily industrialized and transformed into urban landscape, the unique history of the RFS allowed patches of marsh and coastal prairie to escape development. Post-remediation restoration of excavated areas will expand and enhance existing natural resources at the RFS, some of which are rare and unique remnants of ecosystems that existed before modern development of the San Francisco Bay Area.

Today, the RFS contains the last undisturbed coastal terrace grassland adjacent to the San Francisco Bay shoreline, seasonal wetlands, a large area of marsh consisting of native cordgrass (Spartina foliosa) and other vegetation that provide habitat for the endangered Ridgway's Rail (Railus longirostris obsoletus), tidal mudflats and eelgrass beds. The six acres of coastal prairie contains a rich assortment of native grasses and forbs, including a very rare patch of slender wheatgrass (Elymus trachycaulus). These resources have been identified as areas of Unique Restoration Opportunities in the Baylands Ecosystem Habitat Goals Report..

This page presents reports on the natural resources of the RFS including project plans for restoration and monitoring. We hope to make this page a repository of data and reports on flora, fauna and the physical environment at the RFS as a resource for future studies. Please submit material for posting on this page to the campus Office of Environment, Health & Safety.

On this page
  Ridway's Rail (Railus longirostris obsoletus) in Stege Marsh 2005. Photo courtesy of The Watershed Project.  
Remediation Photos  
2002. Pre-excavation. photo showing distressed vegetation from acidic drainage into Western Stege Marsh.  
March 2005. Western Stege Marsh one year after Phase 2 excavation and back-fill with clean bay mud.  
June 2006. Marsh and ecotone showing areas re-vegetated by active planting and natural recruitment of native marsh plants.  
September 2008 Western Stege Marsh marsh gumplant (Grindelia stricta).  
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Ridgway's Rail Conservation  
Ridway's Rail in East Stege Marsh January 2015 (photo by Karl Hans)

As of July 2014, the formerly called California Clapper Rail is now called the Ridway's Rail. The American Ornithology Union approved this change due to new genetic studies that looked at the relatedness of big rails as described in an American Birding Association blog post.

Stege Marsh Ridgway's Rails powerpoint [11.2 MB ppt]


Clapper Rail Split

Mangrove Rail (Rallus longirostris) Ridgway’s Rail (Rallus obsoletus) Clapper Rail (Rallus crepitans)

Recent genetic studies have looked at the relatedness of the New World “big rails”, what we have traditionally known as Clapper Rail and King Rail. King Rail was split into two species, and Clapper Rail into three. (For an article on the different “Clapper Rails” in the ABA Area, check out the Sep/Oct 2013 issue of Birding.) Finally, Robert Ridgway has an English bird name to celebrate his storied contributions to North American ornithology! Ridgway’s Rail includes the “California” (obsoletus), “Yuma” (yumanensis), and “Light-footed” (levipes) subspecies, plus others farther south in Mexico. Any “Clapper Rail” observed in California, Nevada, or Arizona is now this species. The name “Clapper Rail” was retained for the birds on the east coast of the U.S. (this species also extends partially into Middle America and the Caribbean), but its scientific name has changed. Mangrove Rail is thought to be restricted to coastal South America.


Free-Roaming Cat and Other Animal Feeding Prohibition

Beginning May 2008, the University instituted a prohibition on feeding free-roaming cats and other wildlife at the RFS as it was determined that feeding had become a significant source of predator pressure at the RFS. For more information, see the Prohibition on Feeding Free-Roaming Cats flyer.


Ridgway's Rail Videos:


Additional Resources:

Ridgway's rail chicks at Meeker Slough- photographed August 21, 2008 (photo courtesy of Denise White)

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