Bay Nature magazineWinter 2005


Decontaminating Navy Land

January 1, 2005

Along the Mountain View shoreline in the South Bay, activists are pressuring the U.S. Navy to fully decontaminate bayside property that borders thousands of acres of salt ponds slated for restoration. Without a full cleanup, the Moffett Field Superfund Site 25—a diked marsh and storm water collection pond—cannot be restored to tidal wetlands and reconnected to the Bay, says Sara Brown Riggs, spokesperson for Save the Bay. She sees it as “a shame to be doing the huge restoration of the South Bay salt ponds but leave Moffett Field out.”

Moffett Field was operated by the military from 1933 until 1994, when the airfield was transferred to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Since then, the Navy has faced an extensive soil and groundwater cleanup at the 2,200-acre airfield. During its tenure, the Navy used the bayside land, now known as Site 25, as a holding pond for DDT- and PCB-laced rainwater runoff. These toxins remain in the sediments there. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency determined that the Navy is responsible for cleaning up all 240 acres of Superfund Site 25, which includes the 55-acre Stevens Creek Shoreline Nature Study Area owned by the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District.

Save the Bay and other local environmental groups such as the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition and Acterra want the highest level of cleanup at the site so that the Moffett Field wetlands can be restored in the future, forming a continuous corridor of tidal marsh from Coyote Creek in the east to the Dumbarton Bridge in the west. The Navy is considering a level of cleanup that would allow for future tidal marsh restoration, but it is also considering doing a less-extensive cleanup that would involve keeping the site diked off from the Bay and allowing it to become a seasonal freshwater wetland.

You can weigh in on issues concerning the Moffett Field wetlands and see what Save the Bay and other local conservation organizations have in mind for restoring the area. To voice your concerns, attend a Restoration Advisory Board Meeting, held by the Navy and regulatory agencies every two months. Upcoming meetings are scheduled for January 13 and March 10 in the Mountain View City Hall, 500 Castro St., fourth floor, 7 p.m. On March 19, Save the Bay ( and other environmental organizations will be hosting an informational walk along Stevens Creek, adjacent to the Moffett wetlands, from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. To sign up, contact Jennifer Jackson at or (510)452-9261, ext. 118.

About the Author

Christine Sculati is a Bay Nature contributor and writes about state park closures and nature on her blog,