Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Funding for Lynch Canyon environmental studies OK'

Funding for Lynch Canyon environmental studies OK'd

By Tony Burchyns / Times-Herald

Posted: 12/14/2010 01:01:19 AM PST

A 13-acre reservoir north of Vallejo that supports a downstream ecosystem and stores water for cattle grazing is one step closer to being restored, open space and Solano County officials said Monday.

Funding for the Lynch Canyon environmental studies was approved last week, according to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement.

The project centers on restoring Lynch Creek's north fork, including maintaining the reservoir's aging dam. The reservoir supports 3.5 acres of downstream wetlands considered important habitat for frogs, birds and other animals. The area also is enjoyed by bird watchers and hikers on public access days.

"It's a big deal to us because it allows for planning to improve the wetlands in the area and work on making the dam located at the reservoir more safe," Solano County Parks Services Manager Dan Sykes said.

The wetlands not only provide a home for indigenous species, but also protect downstream water quality by filtering runoff and preventing erosion.

This benefits the water quality of the Lynch Creek watershed, and ultimately Suisun Marsh, San Francisco Bay and downstream coastal areas, officials said.

The $35,477 grant is tied to 2005 legislation that in part provides funding for the six "outer continental shelf" oil and gas producing states to protect coastal areas. California has received $5.9 million for related projects since the start of the year.

The county will receive the money once the studies are completed, Sykes said, probably next summer or fall.

The next step will be to find funding for the actual restoration work.

Finishing the studies will help determine how much that phase will cost, Solano Land Trust Project Coordinator Sue Wickham said.

"This is just the next piece of the puzzle," Wickham said. "The studies will determine the regulatory requirements of the project."

The land trust owns the roughly 1,000-acre Lynch Canyon reserve, partnering with the Bay Area Ridge Trail Council and the county to operate it as a public park.

Wickham said private landowners who own half the reservoir are on board with the project, which may include improving eroded and aging access roads.

"It has to do with having the public at Lynch Canyon," Wickham said. "It took a long time, but we are very happy to get this money."

Contact staff writer Tony Burchyns at tburchyns or

(707) 553-6831.