Wedged into the Parchester Village neighborhood of Richmond, California, Breuner Marsh lies alongside the San Pablo Bay. The neighborhood was built around the marsh and the developer promised the predominately African American residents that the marsh would be permanently preserved, however, changes in ownership brought repeated attempts to develop the marsh. Whitney Dotson has lived in the neighborhood since 1950 and well understood the importance of a nature and recreation area to the low-income neighborhood. Mr. Dotson led efforts to preserve the marsh, including running for and winning a seat on the East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD) Board of Directors. EBRPD acquired the land in 2008 and in 2012 approved a plan to restore the marsh and improve public access. The $14 million restoration project is expected to be complete in 2017 and will result in a self-sustaining wetland complex that will filter polluted runoff and provide a habitat for native plants and threatened and endangered species, as well as provide walking trails and space for outdoor recreation activities. The 150-acre park is designed to remain functional, both ecologically and recreationally, through five feet of sea-level rise. The significance of this project is that it not only saves and restores valuable wetlands, but improves resiliency to extreme weather and provides multiple benefits from green infrastructure while protecting this community.
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