Port of Stockton wins two environmental improvement awards
September 7, 2017
• American Association of Port Authorities cites Antioch Dunes restoration and barn owl nest box program
• “It made perfect sense to pump the sand”
The Port of Stockton has received two environmental awards from the American Association of Port Authorities.
The Central Valley inland seaport received the 2017 Environmental Enhancement Award for its work on the Antioch Dunes restoration project, and the 2017 Stakeholder Education, Awareness, and Involvement Award for its barn owl nest box program.
The awards will be formally presented at an AAPA ceremony to be held October 4 in Long Beach.
The Antioch Dunes Restoration Project is a joint initiative between the Port of Stockton, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to restore the Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge. The project was established to preserve the Contra Costa Wallflower, the Antioch Dunes Evening Primrose, and Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly, all of which are classified as endangered species.
The Antioch Dunes are along the San Joaquin River, which serves as the shipping channel for the Port of Stockton. After the San Francisco earthquake in 1906, the large sand dunes that formed the unique Antioch Dunes habitat disappeared as sand was removed for construction to rebuild the city.
The Port of Stockton has been working with the Corps to repurpose sediment removed from the San Joaquin River to restore the dunes. Every year, the Corps has to dredge the channel to accommodate shipping and the Port is responsible for providing placement sites for the material. The Port says that dredged sand is ideal for restoring the Antioch Dunes so dredged material is being used to rebuild the sand dunes along the San Joaquin River.
“When we realized that the Fish and Wildlife Service needed sand at Antioch Dunes, it made perfect sense to pump the sand from the river to restore the dunes,” says Port Director Richard Aschieris.
The Port of Stockton also put up 20 owl nest boxes around the Port to help increase the barn owl population. Barn owls are an important element of the region’s ecosystem since the owls control the rodent population, which reduces the use of pesticides and protects the levees from erosion due to rodent burrowing. The boxes are equipped with cameras so the public can monitor the owls via the Port of Stockton website.
“We had over 40,000 individual hits from visitors to the website watching our owl boxes in one month last year,” says Jeffrey Wingfield, environmental and public affairs director for the Port of Stockton. “By installing owl boxes we have substantially increased the barn owl population to help with rodent and pest control. We also received a huge positive response from the public, which has really increased awareness for the role the Port plays in maintaining the San Joaquin Delta’s ecosystem.”