Fun in the Mud

On a sunny Saturday in October of 2008, salt water rushed into the southern end of Tomales Bay, where Lagunitas Creek enters the Pacific Ocean. Hundreds of people from the local communities watched as the water spread over the pastures of the old Giacomini Dairy Ranch and the wetlands were reborn.

I was the project manager for the Point Reyes National Seashore Association, the non-profit partner working with the National Park Service to bring the wetlands back to life, and I had been fascinated to listen as experts debated how to create habitat for the species we were trying to protect. How deep should the ponds be for California Red Legged Frog? How could we create the brackish water needed by Coho salmon? How high should the mounds be to shelter Ridgeway’s Rail? How long could marsh plants be covered by high tide and still thrive? It was from my own delight at learning about life in the wetlands, and trying to explain it to my young niece, that Fun in the Mud came to be.

From the moment salt water touched the ground that had thirsted for it for over sixty years, the transformation from dry land back into healthy wetland started, and the remarkable recovery continues to this day. Frogs, fish, fowl and flowers have all returned more quickly and in greater numbers than any of us had dared to hope. Meaning even more fun in the mud for Jack and Mini, their wetlands friends – and us!