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The Story of Almonte Marsh and the Goat

Waldo Point Harbor resident explains the recent restoration of the marsh just south of Tam High.

If you travel Miller Avenue, you surely have noticed an area of unkempt, overgrown vegetation at the intersection of Almonte Avenue just south of the Tam High football field. What you might not know is that this area is the Almonte Marsh, a protected wetland that has not seen much upkeep in a long time due to a lack of funds to allow the area's owner, the Tam-Union School District, to do the work.

For many years, neighborhood residents and county officials have hoped for a restoration of this valuable wetland, but funding has always been the roadblock.

Enter the goat.

On the other side of the highway at Gate 6 Road and Bridgeway in Sausalito, there is an area known as the Gates Cooperative, which is a part of the Waldo Point Harbor floating home marina. For decades, Waldo Point residents, and the state and county agencies, have explored ways to clean this area up, bring the Gates' dwellings up to code and create a new park. Finally, after a lot of hard work, a reconfiguration of the harbor and rehabilitation of the Gates area was agreed to by all stakeholders.

After years of negotiation and multiple environmental impacts reports, state, county and federal permits were issued. Everyone was happy that there were no marsh-type areas that needed to be preserved and the project was ready to go.

And then the Gates Cooperative's pet goat died. For years, the goat apparently had been eating the native pickleweed plant, a salt marsh plant. Once the goat died, approximately one square foot of pickleweed grew back. The discovery of the pickleweed meant that the area was a marsh, and the Army Corps of Engineers shut the project down.

Waldo Point Harbor owners had to find an area to restore elsewhere to mitigate the project and allow it go forward. In order to fulfill the needs of all the stakeholders and to bring this shaggy goat story to a conclusion, Supervisor and Mill Valley resident Charles McGlashan suggested that the Almonte Marsh be reclaimed to fulfill the offsite mitigation requirement.

With the eager support of the Almonte residents, the concurrence of the numerous government agencies, including the Army Corps and the school district, and of course the agreement of Waldo Point Harbor to fund the project to the tune of several hundred thousand dollars, the deal was sealed.

Work is underway to remove the old, non-native species and do a general cleanup of the area. New, native plantings will be brought in and established.

Waldo Point Harbor will not only pay for the restoration, but will also maintain the new plantings for five years, to assure that the restoration was successful and the plants are thriving.

The environment wins, the school district wins with a model marsh to serve as a teaching tool, the neighbors who have longed for the restoration win, Waldo Point Harbor gets its Army Corps permit and the agencies are happy. Everyone wins. Mill Valley, Almonte and Tam Valley folks can look forward to visiting the new and improved Gate 6 area, with a very nice public park and improved bay access, and Waldo Point residents can visit and enjoy the restored marsh.

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