Author Archives: Patti Ransdell

Construction Update- Week of August 14, 2017

  • Last week, (week of August 7) the contractor had to deal with high water levels in Peyton Slough causing water to leak into pond C.
  • The main work items last week involved dewatering pond C and re-drying the soils there.
  • The contractor also continued to dry/moisture condition soils in ponds D and E.
  • This week (Week of August 14) the contractor plans to continue drying/moisture conditioning the soils in ponds D and E and will hopefully be doing some grading/compaction for the new ponds.
  • This week the contractor will continue to dewater pond C and may be able to start work on the pond C levee if suitable import material is located to cap the levee.

Coast Cleanup – Invasive Plant Removal in McNabney Marsh

Saturday, September 16

9:30 am – 11:30 am

Please join us on Coast Cleanup Day – September 16 – to remove invasive stinkwort (Dittrichia graveolens) from the edges of McNabney Marsh. Stinkwort was first reported in California (Santa Clara County) in 1984. It has now spread to 36 counties including Contra Costa. Stinkwort is not palatable, can be poisonous to livestock, and can cause contact dermatitis in people. It is found primarily along roadsides and other disturbed sites. Unlike many annuals, stinkwort flowers and produces seeds from September to December – so this is a good time to remove it. If you are up for a little work, you can help us make a big difference in the spread of this invasive plant. Reservations and signed liability forms are REQUIRED. We will provide: latex gloves, plastic bags, water, and a pizza lunch at the end of the day. Participants bring: work gloves, a hat, and sunscreen and wear long pants and closed-toed shoes. A mat or knee pads are also recommended. For more info and to RSVP, contact Heidi Petty at:


Ecological Scent Detection Dogs: On the Lookout for Western Pond Turtle Nests!

MVSD’s Moorhen Marsh, a 21-acre freshwater constructed wetland, is home to approximately 150 western pond turtles (WPT), including nesting turtles. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife considers the western pond turtle (Actinemys marmorata) as a Species of Special Concern and the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service is considering a proposal to list it as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act.

MVSD has been studying WPT since 2009 to better understand the population ecology of the species and how best to protect and manage for its success at Moorhen Marsh.

In June, we had an unusual guest contributing to our research efforts–“George”–an ecological-scent detection dog who is part of the Harvey Dog program of Los Gatos-based, H. T. Harvey & Associates, Ecological Consultants. Harvey Dogs are trained to detect specific species and give their handlers, who are experienced ecologists, a cue when the species is present. Using their superb noses, dogs can detect a target species from smelling the live animal or particulates such as scat, remains, nests, or feathers in an area of up to 30 acres in a day.

George and his trainer, Lauralea Oliver, visited Moorhen Marsh to conduct the final stages of his training in detection of WPT nests. As he investigated the marsh, he practiced finding WPT nests, without disturbing the sensitive habitat. By supporting the development of more efficient and effective methods to detect the hard-to-find WPT nests, MVSD aims to more accurately and quickly identify where to install protective barriers around nests to prevent predation, monitor nests for hatching success, and continue to contribute to research on the reproductive habits of this declining turtle species.

Construction Updates– Week of July 17, 2017

Following is a summary of main work items during the week July 17, 2017:

•Completed vegetation removal and drying in Ponds C, D and
E (except small area by tree with nest, pond C).
•Continued ripping and drying the soils in ponds C, D and E.
•Continued dewatering local ponding water in Pond E.
•Wallace-Kuhl (field geotechnical) took in-situ density tests on pond material.

River Otter Study

MVSD is proud to announce our new partnership with the River Otter Ecology Project (ROEP) based in Marin County. Using a series of camera traps, we will try to figure out how river otters use the District’s wetlands and how many otters the wetlands support. Because of all of the spraints (otter scat) and other clues we frequently come across in the marsh system, we know we have a significant population of otters, but exactly how many and how they use and move through the wetlands is not currently understood.

Visit the River Otter Study page to watch the latest videos and learn more about these adorable mammals.

Property Tax Postponement

Concerned about your ability to pay your property taxes? The State, through the State Controller’s Office, offers a Property Tax Postponement Program which allows homeowners who are seniors, are blind, or have a disability to defer current-year property taxes on their principal residence if they meet certain criteria including 40 percent equity in the home and an annual household income of $35,500 or less.

For more information and to obtain a Property Tax Postponement Application for 2016-2017, please visit

For a quick reference, download a flyer in Englisha flyer in Spanish, a flyer in Chinese, or a flyer in Tagalog.

For more detailed program information, please refer to the Frequently Asked Questions, call toll-free (800) 952-5661, or email