Earth Day 2023 at Dutch Slough, a restored wetland in Contra Costa County

This Earth Day, students from Antioch High School and Independence High School joined the restoration ecologists from River Partners and other volunteers to help remove invasive species and conduct a litter cleanup. The Dutch Slough is a freshwater tidal marshland, a particular type of wetland found along rivers near the ocean, once wove through hundreds of thousands of acres across the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, which is the largest delta on the west coast of the Americas. The marshes are filled with diverse wildlife and filter runoff and pollutants from water, prevent erosion, build soil to buffer sea-level rise, sequester carbon, protect nearby towns from flood damage, and provide nursery habitat for juvenile salmon. It is also an incredibly beautiful vista with so many opportunities for recreational activities. In fact, this little estuary houses only about 2% of its original marsh habitat stores carbon at such a high rate that it is in the top 1% of thousands of locations studied worldwide, from pine forests to arctic tundra, according to UC Berkeley scientists who have worked at the site since last year.

The Earth Team interns got the chance to hear about the restoration project and interact with all sorts of wildlife, like seeing sea lions play in the water as we weeded the coastlines on a super sunny day (Thank you Mother Nature). Check out these interns’ smiling faces, even some of the students’ parents joined for the day!

While students explored the Dutch Slough, seals came to see what everyone was up to. The students got to witness what restoration does to an entire ecosystem, bringing back habitat for all the wildlife in the area. Students even saw birds dive into the water and grab fish for food throughout the day!

Learning about conservation efforts in the Oakley area, students also were able to learn how the Dutch Slough provides for the entire surrounding communities and is even helping with efforts to restore local sand dunes in Antioch to help further prevent coastal erosion and stabilize shorelines. Thanks to River Partners and other volunteers, Earth Team had a blast doing a small project with a huge impact.

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