The former Point Molate Naval Fuel Depot is under development pressure once again. This unique ecological area is part of the San Pablo Peninsula which is at the western edge of the City of Richmond in California. Only a few years ago, a committed group of locals helped inform the public about a multi-million dollar casino development which would have changed this landscape forever. A similar development, without the casino has now surfaced and is being pushed by the developer. Golden Hour Restoration Institute along with the East Bay Chapter of the California Native Plant Society has been working for over 10 years on the conservation of this resource. Conservation efforts have been led by the fantastic local group Citizens for a Sustainable Point Molate.
Although this site has been impacted by military use, we concur with a 2016 study by the Urban Land Institute that indicates this land’s best use is placing resources first and developing an adequate amount of the land to support city development needs and federal regulations. We will be helping provide germane resource information to help the City and its residents fully realize some of the hidden values of this ecological gem, what we like to call the Richmond Headlands.
Just to start, here are a list of ecosystem services that will be impacted by the current proposal. [sources: Wikipedia & de Groot, Rudolf; Matthew Wilson; Roelof Boumans (2002) & Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA). 2005. Ecosystems and Human Well-Being: Synthesis. Island Press, Washington. 155pp] In an effort to properly frame effective reserve design, we produced the following handout on conservation planning specifically for this site.
Ecosystem services that are necessary for the production of all other ecosystem services
- nutrient cycling – landscapes that are intact on a watershed level have more efficient nutrient cycling and allow for large-scale ecological processes to occur. Once development edges into these areas, those services become hindered and eliminated
Products obtained from ecosystems
- food – especially seafood and fish resources that will be compromised by development within 200 feet of the shoreline of a well-established eel-grass bed
- pollination – services will be impacted as pollination land is reduced and it is certain that herbicide use will commence regularly around development
Benefits obtained from the regulation of ecosystem processes
- water detoxification and purification resources – wetlands and habitats in the area will be taxed with greater human use and certainly Bay water will be subject to increased pollution and sedimentation
- carbon sequestration and climate regulation – this development will remove grassland, scrub and forest habitat that helps moderate climate impacts and increases local carbon sequestration
Non-material benefits people obtain from ecosystems through spiritual enrichment, cognitive development, reflection, recreation, and aesthetic experiences
- cultural (including use of nature as motif in books, film, painting, folklore, national symbols, architect, advertising, etc.)
- spiritual and historical (including use of nature for religious or heritage value or natural)
- recreational experiences (including ecotourism, outdoor sports, and recreation)
- science and education (including use of natural systems for school excursions, and scientific discovery)
Additional and critical impacts include (but are not limited to):
- impact to rare plant resources including individual locally rare plants only found on this penninsula and locally rare habitats such as coastal prairie and coastal willow riparian habitat
- impact to shorebird and raptor habitat by increased human activity along the entire shoreline
- impact to mostly intact watersheds such as the southern most watershed near the Chevron boundary