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The Presidio’s Brand New Pedestrian Trail Opens

Seven acres of restored tidal marshland and a new pedestrian trail opens
By - posted 12/16/2020 No Comment

On December 18, 2020, the Presidio Trust unveils to visitors seven acres of restored tidal marshland and a new pedestrian trail near San Francisco Bay, marking a significant milestone in the 20-year revitalization of one of San Francisco’s original watersheds.

Update: The new pedestrian path is located adjacent to, but not in the Presidio Tunnel Tops as was originally posted. Additionally this path opened in December 2020 and not December 2021. Presidio Tunnel tops isn’t scheduled to open until May 2022.

The site is known as Quartermaster Reach, named for the U.S. Army’s Quartermaster Corps, which operated in the area when the Presidio was a military post. The project transforms a formerly paved construction site under the “Presidio Parkway” approach to the Golden Gate Bridge into a beautiful new wetland ecosystem. Creeks now flow above ground along the Presidio’s largest watershed known as Tennessee Hollow to San Francisco Bay through Crissy Marsh, improving the biodiversity of the Presidio. The site will allow visitors to enjoy an intimate experience of nature just minutes from downtown.

Work at Quartermaster Reach brought an 850-foot length of the stream once buried in a pipe back above ground through excavation. Box culverts were then installed beneath Mason Street at Crissy Marsh to allow the freshwater of the stream to flow into the saltwater marsh and San Francisco Bay, creating unique brackish habitat that is vital to a variety of plant and animal species.

Specially fabricated fiberglass panels installed within the culverts, and concrete and shell “reef balls” placed in the marsh channels, are part of a unique experiment to promote the resurgence of the native Olympia oyster. The team is currently planting 23,000 plants – including more than 40 different species of saltmarsh and dune plants grown in the Presidio Nursery – to create a habitat attractive for the Presidio’s many migrating shorebirds and water animals like fish and crabs.

“Our planet is in the midst of an extinction crisis due to the destruction of habitat. Projects like this give us hope that we can turn the tide. We’ve turned back time more than a century to restore the natural systems of the Presidio’s shoreline. We hope the lessons we learn here will be helpful to others who are also committed to restoring Bay ecology,” says Jean Fraser, CEO of the Presidio Trust.

With the addition of a pedestrian bridge and trail connector, visitors can hike from Crissy Field’s East Beach, under the Presidio Parkway, and along the Tennessee Hollow Trail all the way to the southern end of the Presidio.

Quartermaster Reach is a huge milestone in the 20-year effort of the Presidio Trust, the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, and the National Park Service to restore the park’s largest watershed. Work has been completed in sections at sites including El Polin spring, MacArthur Meadow, and Thompson Reach. Other sections will be restored in the coming years.

About Tennessee Hollow Watershed
The Presidio of San Francisco is the traditional territory of the Yelamu, a local tribe of Ramaytush Ohlone peoples of the San Francisco Peninsula. Yelamu familes lived in the village of Petlenuc.

The Tennessee Hollow Watershed’s creek system is comprised of three tributaries that converge at MacArthur Meadow. The stream, dubbed Petlenuc Creek, then continues north in a single channel through a variety of habitats, ultimately emptying into Crissy Marsh and San Francisco Bay. For centuries, people used this creek system as a water source, beginning with the native Ohlone and later Spanish settlers. Over time, the militaries of Spain, Mexico, and the United States substantially altered where and how the creeks flow, creating dams and wells, and ultimately forced the water underground into pipes to create dry land for building. Restoration of the Tennessee Hollow Watershed began in the late 1990s at the headwaters near the Presidio’s Inspiration Point. Major revitalization projects have included the restoration of Crissy Marsh (2001), Thompson Reach (2005/2006), El Polín spring (2010/2011), YMCA Reach (2013/2014), Quartermaster Riparian (2014/2015), and MacArthur Meadow (2015/2017). After Quartermaster Reach (2020), the final sections to be restored are the Eastern Tributary (under Morton Field) and Central Tributary (between El Polin and MacArthur Meadow).

Read more at Presidio Tunnel Tops