From The Mercury News – Scientists estimate that more than 350,000 acres of tule marsh once blanketed the area from Sacramento to Stockton, yet only 2% to 5% of those are left. European settlers moved here in the Gold Rush days and many hired Chinese immigrants to divert the waters and build levees for farming. Because many of those “farming islands” have now sunk some 20 to 25 feet below sea level – too low for plants when the tides come in – there are fewer opportunities now to build tidal marshes, according to John Cain of River Partners, a nonprofit that works on large-scale habitat restoration projects. Considered the project’s visionary, Cain got involved in promoting the wetland project in the late 1990s while working for the Natural Heritage Institute. Knowing Dutch Slough land was at the mouth of Marsh Creek, filled with mineral soils and clay, the restoration ecologist understood it had not sunk as low as some other areas and could be transformed into a tidal marsh. (more)