While a great many cleanup projects have occured around the Presidio over the last decade, a few are especially noteworthy due to their scale and the restoration and recreation improvements that followed.
Sunset Scrub is located just south of the World War II Memorial in the western Presidio. The Army deposited waste soil and building debris here for 50 years, ending in the late 1970s. In 2002, the Presidio Trust removed a landfill from the 2.7 acre site, exposing native soils. Staff and volunteers then planted 30,000 native plants, representing more than 100 species. A California quail, a resident coyote, a snake, and two rare plant species have all been sighted at Sunset Scrub.
In 2004 and 2005, the Trust removed a landfill from a three-acre site on the Baker Beach Bluffs. The Army created the landfill between the 1930s and 1960s by dumping waste soil and building rubble into a coastal ravine. In early 2006, the Trust completed restoration of an historic access road to nearby Battery Crosby. Native dune vegetation was then planted by National Park Service staff and volunteers. A wetland feature developed in the bottom of the natural ravine that was re-exposed after the landfill was removed. A coyote is known to visit the site on a regular basis.
In 2005, 77,000 tons of Army-era landfill debris were removed from a site on the Main Post
, and a portion of a creek was brought above ground (or" daylighted"). More than 35,000 seedlings from Presidio Nursery were planted to create wildlife habitat.
Today, Thompson Reach teems with native plants and nesting birds – signs that a vibrant ecosystem is thriving in the lower Tennessee Hollow Watershed. The number of nesting birds has
increased dramatically, and stickleback fish are seen swimming in the creek. View a video about the restoration on You Tube
Baker Beach1 and 2A Landfills
From the 1940s to the 1970s, the Army regularly disposed of debris by dumping it over the Presidio’s coastal bluffs. In 2007, the Trust completed a dramatic and complex project to remove 73,000 tons of material from two coastal bluff landfills. They were unearthed by spider excavators and conveyed 250 feet along treacherous slopes to the top of the cliffs. In the course of the Baker Beach excavation, Civil War-era ordnance were found – two 8-inch cannon balls and two 8-inch armor-piercing shells designed for the Rodman Rifle. All were exploded in place. The work helped pave the way for subsequent trail and overlook construction along the beautiful bluffs.
Fill Site 1 and Landfill 2
In 2010, two large Army-era landfills were excavated south of El Polín Spring
. In total, 60,000 cubic yards of landfill containing construction debris, municipal-type waste, and incinerator ash were removed from a four-acre area. In 2011, several hundred cypress and pine were planted, along with a mix of woodland trees, shrubs, and native plants. A new section of the Mountain Lake Trail was also constructed to allow visitors to enjoy the area. As funding becomes available in coming years,
a new practice field will be built near Paul Goode Field.
Landfill E, a large Army-era landfill located in the Tennessee Hollow Watershed
beneath the former Pop Hicks Field (out of service for more than a decade) was remediated by the Presidio Trust in 2011. In the future the Trust plans to construct a new athletic field at the site, accompanied by parking, restrooms, and a picnic area. Also, the final section of the Ecology Trail will be constructed, providing a direct link for hikers and cyclists between the Arguello Gate and Main Post. As part of the project, the western tributary of Tennessee Hollow
was brought above ground (or "daylighted").