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Corte Madera Ecological Reserve


Turning blighted area into revitalized entrance

The Corte Madera Ecological Reserve is one of the last salt marshes remaining in Marin County, and the story of how it was preserved can be read here. Bordered on the west by the railroad dike where freight trains ran a hundred years ago, the land between the dike and the highway was developed for industrial use in the 1950s and 1960s. 


A five-acre parcel adjacent to the CM Ecological Reserve was slated for office development, but environmentalists recently succeeded in raising funds to acquire it for addition to the CM Ecological Reserve.  The Foundation contributed to the acquisition, and then took on the challenge of getting the blighted area at the entrance to the Ecological Reserve cleaned up so that the walking and biking path along the old railroad dike could be reconnected for safe use.

SMART purchased the RR ROW over a decade ago with the plan to extend its rail service to the Village in Corte  Madera.  In the unlikely event this would happen, it would take many years before this could be achieved.  SMART subsequently leased the ROW for storage and the site took on the appearance of a junkyard with abandoned cars and trash being dumped on the site. 


CM has jurisdiction over some of the property and pushed SMART to terminate the leases in 2018.  The negotiations resulted in Corte Madera taking responsibility for the formerly leased properties that were within the Town of Corte Madera and cleaning that area up.  Through the efforts of CM Code Enforcement Officer Michael Moriarty and our Public Works Department, the vehicles and container boxes have been removed, trash has been hauled off and a new locked gate protects the property while letting cyclist and walkers onto the site.  


The remaining chain link fenced area north of Industrial Way and in the ROW is on County of Marin property, and negotiations are ongoing with SMART and the County of Marin’s Department of Public Works.  It is the goal of the Foundation that this final section of fence be removed so that cyclist and walkers will be able to safely walk throughout the site and enjoy the scenic bay and wetlands views to the east.  This would allow the Foundation to work with the town to provide some landscaping and improved pathways along the levee, potentially creating a Safe Routes to School for students of Cove School, Hall, Neil Cummings and Redwood.  This would also allow the levee to provide flood protection from sea level rise for much of Corte Madera. 


Updated information about the progress the Foundation is continuing to make on this project will be posted here as it occurs.

Below are some additional articles of interest should you want to learn more.


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