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Shovelers Breach Pescadero Marsh Lagoon

Volunteers and residents of Camp Glenwood, a detention facility in La Honda, started shoveling out the sand yesterday as a historic experiment to save the steelhead trout.

Thursday volunteers with shovels in hand started digging at 8 a.m. in an attempt to to avoid another fish kill this year at the Pescadero Lagoon just south of Half Moon Bay.

After 20 years of studies, four government agencies — the National Marine Fisheries Services, also known as NOAA, California State Parks, U.S. Fish and Wildlife and California Fish and Game now called Cal Wild — came together with the idea to help regulate water flow in the Pescadero Marsh by shoveling the sand out of it. Several endangered species live there and are threatened each summer when a sandbar forms on the beach and blocks the marsh from draining.

Half Moon Bay Patch's Rick Eymer wrote about the project in its planning stages a couple of weeks ago.

The sand bar will naturally erode in the winter when the marsh fills to capacity and wave action breaches the obstruction. Then the marsh drains too quickly mixing low oxygen layers of water with fresh water suffocating the steelhead trout trapped in the marsh.

Patrick Rutten, SW Regional Supervisor at NOAA Restoration Center, directed the first legal hand dug breach work in an effort to lower the water levels in the lagoon and encourage water exchange with the ocean.

"Digging by hand is the simplest way to get it done" said Rutten. Permits allow the experiment to procede for two years.

Assisting with the labor were residents of Camp Glenwood, a detention facility in La Honda. The camp looks for opportunity to help out the community and gain experience.

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