Saturday, January 31, 2015
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Cullinan Ranch will be place for wildlife – and people

cullinan marsh, 1/23/13

Don Brubaker, who manages the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge, talks about the future of the 1,500-acre Cullinan Ranch in westernmost Solano County. (Conner Jay/Daily Republic)

By
From page A1 | February 10, 2013 |

VALLEJO — Don Brubaker drove along a levee and pointed out the flat expanse of pickleweed and water in front of him and the hills of Napa and Sonoma counties miles away.

“All the way to those foothills over there was an estuary,” said Brubaker, who manages the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

Mile upon mile of rivers, sloughs, mudflats, floodplains and bogs. This vast area fanning out from the bay was before pioneer days fit for a duck and a lot of other creatures, though humans found it uninviting and turned much of it into dry land for farming.

Cullinan Ranch in westernmost Solano County in coming years will take a step backward in the name of environmental progress. This 1,500-acre area is poised to once again become tidal wetlands, as well as a public access centerpiece to the wildlife refuge for people driving by on Highway 37.

“Part of what we’re doing here is a natural wildlife refuge for farming two endangered species – the salt marsh harvest mouse and the California clapper rail,” Brubaker said.

The other part is creating a place where people can park and enjoy the refuge. They’ll ultimately be able to come to Cullinan Ranch to hike, bird-watch and kayak. Much of the 13,200-acre refuge can presently be reached only by boat, though there is hiking on Tubbs Island in Sonoma County near Sears Point.

“We’re going to spend $16 million on this project, on a wetlands,” Brubaker said. “We don’t want people not to come out and enjoy it.”

People some 150 years ago began constructing levees in the region to create dry land for farming. By 1999, the Bay Area had only about 21 percent of its historic tidal marsh acreage, according to the multiple-agency San Francisco Bay Area Wetlands Ecosystems Goals Project.

Cullinan Ranch near the Napa River got farmed for oats and hay into the early 1980s. A late-1980s plan to build the Egret Bay community with some 1,500 homes and a marina as part of Vallejo stalled amid opposition by environmental groups.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service bought the land in 1991. But turning Cullinan Ranch back to tidal wetlands has proven to be complicated. There’s been millions of dollars to find, public hearings to hold and an environmental impact report to complete before breaching levees.

“It is more than coming out here, setting a couple of dynamite charges and letting the water rip,” Brubaker said.

Plus, there’s been one new levee to build, the biggest one of all.

Highway 37 is a major link between Solano and Sonoma counties and carries about 33,000 vehicles daily. A 10-mile stretch runs through the marshlands between Vallejo and Sears Point, including past Cullinan Ranch.

The concern is that tides rushing through breached Cullinan Ranch levees could during storm surges spill over Highway 37. That 15-foot-tall, half-mile-long levee got built near the highway over the past few months to keep Highway 37 dry.

But this new levee does not look like those built long ago. One side tapers gradually down to the tidal-marsh-to-be. That will create a transition zone moving from upland vegetation to pickleweed to mudflats. Brubaker said it will also make the restored wetlands area more resilient to sea level rise.

Bulldozers will be busy at the Cullinan Ranch in coming months. They will contour and groom the former farmland to once again become tidal wetlands.

Brubaker said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service should breach the final levee in 2014.

The tidal marshes won’t instantly appear in finished form. Nature in coming years will continue to mold the land, with the tidal waters washing in sediments.

Brubaker became the San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge manager in 2010 after managing refuges in San Diego for eight years. He said he came at a time when years of Cullinan Ranch wetlands restoration planning is coming to fruition.

Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.

Barry Eberling

Barry Eberling

Barry Eberling has been a reporter with the Daily Republic since 1987. He covers Solano County government, transportation, growth and the environment. He received his bachelors of art degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara and his masters degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley.
LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • Recent Articles

  • Enter your email address to subscribe and receive notifications of new posts by email.

  • .

    Solano News

    Solano County confirms 1st local case of measles

    By Staff and wire reports | From Page: A1, 3 Comments

     
    SPCA begins caring for more than 100 rescued dogs

    By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A1, 4 Comments | Gallery

     
     
    Top workers, top students – and succulent crab

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

     
    Partial Fairfield freeway road closure starts Monday

    By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3

    DUI patrols set for Super Bowl Sunday

    By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3

     
    Armijo students savor catered Fuddruckers lunch

    By Susan Hiland And Susan Winlow | From Page: A3 | Gallery

    Fairfield police log: Jan. 29, 2015

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9

     
    Suisun City police log: Jan. 29, 2015

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9

     
    .

    US / World

    Man charged in California family’s deaths will be own lawyer

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A3

     
    Stanford University to get $50 million to produce vaccines

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A3

    PG&E releases thousands of emails with state regulators

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

     
    Yosemite park fee hikes coming in March

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

    San Francisco coroner says human remains are from 1 man

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

     
    US mulls Middle East-North Africa category for 2020 Census

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    Balloon crew makes history crossing Pacific Ocean

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

    Murder trial begins 35 years after 6-year-old vanished in NY

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    Judge: Funeral home wrongly sold Lee Harvey Oswald’s casket

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

    Jordan awaits proof hostage is alive after swap deadline

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    Judge expresses doubt about constitutionality of no-fly list

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    French fracture laid bare as 8-year-old praises terrorists

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    .

    Opinion

     
    GOP should plan for post-Obamacare world

    By Ramesh Ponnuru | From Page: A8, 10 Comments

    Editorial Cartoon: Jan. 31, 2015

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Solano College news makes me sick

    By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8, 2 Comments

    .

    Living

    Today in History: Jan. 31, 2015

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Community Calendar: Jan. 31, 2015

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

    Horoscopes: Jan. 31, 2015

    By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B7

     
    My recently widowed mother is already thinking about re-marrying

    By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: B7

    Five ways 3D-printed food will change the way we eat

    By The Washington Post | From Page: B10, 1 Comment

     
    .

    Entertainment

    TVGrid

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

     
    List: 10 Super Bowl ads you’ll be talking about

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

     
    Rod McKuen, mega-selling poet and performer, dies at 81

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

    Miranda Lambert leads ACM Awards with 8 nominations

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

     
    Shakira gives birth to 2nd baby with Spanish football star

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

    .

    Sports

     
    Mustangs ride away from Indian’s home court with 66-60 victory

    By Marcus Lomtong | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Hayward, Utah Jazz upset Golden State Warriors 110-100

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

    LeBron returns, Love, Irving team for 44, as Cavs top Kings

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

     
    Ko takes lead at LPGA opener, closes in on golf history

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Djokovic beats Wawrinka to reach fifth Australian Open final

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    Kings’ Cousins to replace Kobe Bryant in All-Star game

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Laird leads as Tiger shoots 82 and misses the cut

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    Seau, Warner, Pace first-time Hall eligibles

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    N.H. Speedway general manager faces lewdness charge

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    Judge: Jury can watch Super Bowl unless Hernandez mentioned

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Blackhawks Hall of Famer Stan Mikita has brain disorder

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    Carroll says decision is Sherman’s if baby arrives early

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

    NFL’s Goodell seeks to look past ‘tough year,’ to future

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

     
    This date in sports history for Jan. 31, 2015

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

     
    .

    Business

    US consumer confidence at highest level in a decade

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

     
    Companies steering clear of Super Bowl name

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B5, 1 Comment

    .

    Obituaries

    Danica Gojkovich Ryder

    By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

     
    Anneliese Edith (Luckner) Fraser

    By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

    .

    Comics

    Baldo

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

     
    Rose is Rose

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

    Baby Blues

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

     
    Sally Forth

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

    Get Fuzzy

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

     
    Wizard of Id

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

    For Better or Worse

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

     
    Beetle Bailey

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

    Pickles

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

     
    Blondie

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

    Zits

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

     
    Garfield

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

    Peanuts

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

     
    B.C.

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

    Dilbert

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

     
    Frank and Ernest

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

    Word Sleuth

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

     
    Sudoku

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

    Crossword

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

     
    Bridge

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

    Cryptoquote

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

     
    .

    Home Seller 1/31/2015

    Quirky add-ons a common feature of celebrity homes

    By The Associated Press | From Page: HSR2

    5 ways to make a kitchen more germ-free

    By The Associated Press | From Page: HSR3

    Average US rate on 30-year mortgage rises to 3.66 percent

    By The Associated Press | From Page: HSR3

    Real estate transactions for Jan. 31, 2015

    By Daily Republic | From Page: HSR3