The town of Marina was laid-out in 1913 by William Locke-Paddon after he purchased 1,500 acres from the David Jacks family of Monterey notoriety. Mr. Locke-Paddon was a very successful real estate speculator that specialized in buying small family farms throughout Northern California and then subdividing and marketing them as “Locke-Paddon Colonies.”
The large tract of coastal prairie that he purchased from the Jacks family was subdivided into 300 five-acre parcels that sold for $75 each. To help “sell” Marina, Mr. Locke-Paddon persuaded the Southern Pacific Railroad to put in a “flag-stop” to accommodate travelers and prospective buyers, from the San Francisco area. The town was incorporated in 1975 and soon after began looking for projects to enhance the City’s character.
The Park District was also recently formed (1972) and actively seeking cooperative open space projects for peninsula cities. A very noticeable characteristic of the City was its six vernal (“seasonal”) ponds. In 1986 a partnership was created between the Park District, the City, and the Coastal Conservancy to acquire the lands around KIDD pond – so named for the tall radio towers owned by the station of the same call letters.
Prior to any acquisitions, a pond enhancement plan was adopted which gave direction for the pond’s future development and protection. Once adopted, the District’s first purchase was the 12-acre Walton/KIDD parcel. By 1991 five of the six parcels were publicly owned and the park was dedicated as Locke-Paddon Wetland Community Park in honor of the City’s founder. The City also approved plans for a much needed library in the park.
In 1994 a comprehensive Vernal Pond Management Plan was adopted by the City that reaffirmed the unique wetland nature of the park as wildlife habitat.
Acquisition of the last remaining private parcel bordering the pond is currently underway and will complete a long, almost 15 year, effort that will also begin the final phase of its original goal – its enhancement and restoration as critical coastal wetland habitat. Its low-impact recreational amenities that include shoreline trail, picnic tables and restrooms enhance its value to the community.
Prior to the retreat, sea level was approximately 300 feet lower than it is now. The coastal plains we see today were high coastal bluffs then. As a global warming trend melted the great ice sheets, the sea level rose and inundated coastal valleys and terraces. These inland bodies of sea water became salt marshes, sloughs, and estuaries.
After the sea-rise stabilized, dune fields began to develop and grow. Over time, they migrated inland as they were pushed by the prevailing on-shore winds. The former coastal bluffs that were now coastal plains with inland marshes were partially covered over by migrating dunes and cut-off from direct access to the bay. This created the pot-marked dune/swale topography we see today in the coastal plains in the Marina area.
The small relatively permanent remnant bodies of water that were once brackish marshes and sloughs are now primarily fresh water vernal ponds, though there is still some sub-surface lateral salt water exchange through the dunes. Before urban build-up around the ponds began in the early 1900’s, their water source was clean rain runoff. Though still the primary source of water today, its purity is clouded with all the additives that come from urban runoff. The increase in runoff has also created a relatively perennial condition.
With diligence, the ponds will remain relatively healthy and support an abundance of rare and indigenous wildlife for generations to come.