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South Bay Wetlands Restoration Project Bringing Back Wildlife

SAN JOSE (CBS SF) - The restoration of the South Bay wetlands is the largest such project on the west coast of the United States, and so far scientists say it's going well. For instance, birds and other animals have been returning to the former industrial salt ponds.

In some areas, the restoration involves removing dikes set up to contain the salt ponds so water can come in and create salt marshes.

"We start seeing shore birds using those areas and other birds using those areas pretty quickly, it's kind of amazing," summed up Laura Volappi, lead scientist on the restoration.

Volappi explained that other areas were being retained as "managed ponds," like one on the west side of the Dumbarton Bridge, where 30 "islands" have been created for nesting birds.

"This last season, in 2011, 28 out of the 30 islands had nesting birds on them," she said.

Water began being let back into the ponds in 7 years ago but Volappi says full restoration is expected to take about 50 years.

"We've got 15,000 acres. We want to take things slow and do a few actions and then watch and study to see how the environment and the birds and the fish respond to those actions that we do so that we can then do the next action that much more informed."

KCBS' Anna Duckworth Reports:

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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