The Dow Wetlands Preserve #003

A few hundred yards into the trail coming from the Antioch Marina, facing south-west. Image taken on October 17th, 2015 at 6:30pm by Michael Pohl. 

In the 1970s and 1980s, residential and commercial developers were looking to build the area of land between Dow Chemical and the Antioch Waterfront. To preserve this area, Dow Chemical purchased the land from the U.S. Steel Corporation in 1989 for $11 million as an environmental buffer zone. In 1990, the land was dedicated as the Dow Wetlands Regional Preserve on April 22, which also happened to be Earth Day.

The Wetlands Preserve is made up of 471 undeveloped acres. This includes 172 acres of tidal wetlands, a 30-acre beaver pond, riparian zones, open water, freshwater ponds, mudflats, uplands and grasslands. Beavers, minks, river otters, and several varieties of water birds call the 30-acre pond home. If you look closely, you'll see several beaver and otter created waterways throughout the marshland, which allows easy transportation of building materials and food.

The Wetlands is home to endangered wildlife and plant species, such as Salt Marsh Harvest Mice. This species of mice feast on pickleweed (Salicornia), which is native to the Pacific Coast and is plentiful at the wetlands. The Wetlands also have two other rare and endangered plants. The Lilaeopsis Masonii is a small, perennial, flowering herb and a member of the carrot family.It is endemic to California, where it is known only from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta and nearby shores of San Francisco Bay. Symphyotrichum lentum, a perennial herb, is also endemic to the marshes of Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, including the Suisun Marsh and Solano County, for which it is named.

Two threatened species are known to live in this area. Black Shouldered Kites are small, falcon-like kite. The black-shouldered kite (Elanus axillaris) is named for the large jet-black marking that runs from its shoulders and across part of its wing. At rest, this species sits low on its short legs, and its pointed wing-tips reach beyond the tip of the notched tail. Northern Harriers are slender, medium-sized raptors with long, fairly broad wings and a long, rounded tail. They have a flat, owl-like face and a small, sharply hooked bill. Harriers often fly with their wings held in a dihedral, or V-shape above the horizontal.

The Wetlands feature miles of trails, observation decks, benches, and plenty of breathtaking views. The ongoing preservation is led by the Wetlands Environmental Team, which is made up of employees, community members, and retirees. Dow is also helped by the Lindsey Wildlife Museum, EarthTeam, and Los Medanos College. Whether its providing docents for tours, cleaning up trash and planting, or studying the Wetlands to preserve it for future generations, these organizations provide a critical role in the upkeep of this treasured land.

The Dow Wetlands is open from sunrise to sundown and is free for all to enjoy. It is accessible from the entrance on 10th street (by Costco and Goodwill) or by the trail entrance by the Antioch Marina. 

For tours for adults or opportunities to do community service at the Wetlands, call 925-432-5211. School tours can be scheduled by calling 925-627-2913.

Bonus tidbits:

- More than 130 species of birds have been spotted at the preserve.

- The preserve is along the Pacific Flyway Migration Route.

- Awarded “Corporate Habitat of the Year” through Wildlife Habitat Council in 2000

- The Salt Marsh Harvest Mice can drink and survive on just salt water.

- In the summer, pickleweed (sea asparagus) is harvested (not from the wetlands) for its tender green tips. The tips are used fresh in salads, steamed to serve as a vegetable, or pickled.