Upper Newport Bay Ecological Restoration Implementation

Location: Orange County

Project Type: Restoration

Status: Completed

Habitat Type: Tidal Wetland

Cost: $53,300,000

Area Affected: 1,000 acres

Assembly District: 74

Senate District: 37

Congressional District: 48

Project Lead/Grantee:
County of Orange RDMD (Susan Brodeur 714-834-5486)

This project enacted plans to deepen sediment basins in the upper bay up to -20 ft below mean sea level by dredging channels to promote tidal circulation and limit predator access to sensitive areas, expanding mudflat habitat in several locations to compensate for mudflats lost to dredging, and creating wetlands and California Least Tern nesting islands.

Upper Newport Bay is the largest open-water estuary in Southern California and one of the last remaining coastal wetlands in Southern California. Implementation of the Upper Newport Bay Ecological Restoration Project increased the quantity and quality of wetlands habitat which supports numerous federally endangered species, provide critical feeding and resting habitat for migratory waterfowl and shorebirds along the Pacific Flyway, and provide a nursery for anadromous fish and other aquatic species. It aimed to improve water quality by reducing sediment inflows and algal blooms. The project preserved both Federal and local navigation channels by dredging 2.3 million cubic yards, which if unaddressed would require costly maintenance dredging.