News Details

Lucy Evans Baylands Nature Interpretive Center Projects

The Baylands Nature Interpretive Center and Preserve provides a unique opportunity to view a pristine salt marsh habitat. The boardwalk is part of the Baylands Nature Interpretive Center and Preserve on Embarcadero Way that serves approximately 129 classes and camps, 3,000 elementary students and 80,000 visitors annually. Due to its age and exposure to the elements, the Baylands Nature Interpretive Center is in need of structural and maintenance improvements. Three separate but related Capital Improvement Program projects have been approved by Council to address this site: Baylands Nature Interpretive Center Exhibit Improvements (AC-14001) Baylands Boardwalk Improvements (PE-14018) Baylands Nature Interpretive Center Facility Improvements (PE-15029). 

Description of Projects

Baylands Nature Interpretive Center Exhibit Improvements project 

Includes the replacement of worn or non-functioning exhibits as well as signage and graphics. With over 120 classes and 80,000 visitors, improvements should increase visibility and usefulness.

Baylands Boardwalk Improvements project 

This project will replace the existing boardwalk.
Baylands Nature Interpretive Center Facility Improvements project

The replacement of decking, railing, structural framing members, exterior wood siding, flooring, cabinetry and/or doors. These improvements will enhance public use and afford opportunities for science programs and facility rentals.

Status of Projects 

The Baylands Nature Interpretive Center Improvements Project

The City of Palo Alto is improving the Baylands Nature Interpretive Center starting on October 19, 2016, construction is expected to last through April 2017. Project construction includes decking, siding and guardrail replacement, fascia repairs, structural framing repairs, interior flooring refinishing, exterior lighting replacement, electrical panel upgrades, ADA and restroom accessibility upgrades, fire sprinkler heads replacement, piping and conduit repairs, and additional design features described below.

Bird deterrent glass panels will be inserted at three railing locations as an interpretive feature. The glass panels will allow for clear viewing of the surrounding Baylands environment. The removal of select deck sections will allow swallow droppings to fall directly into the marsh. The deck openings to the march below will act as an interpretive design feature, while reducing the need for on-going cleaning and maintenance. New guardrails will be installed for safety, and swallow-nesting boxes will be installed in areas favored by birds.

The Center

The Center is located within the City's Baylands Nature Preserve. Built on piles above the salt marsh in 1967, the Center was the first educational facility within this Bay Area ecosystem. The Center offers various educational experiences for the public, including a wet laboratory for drop in visitors, and tidelands flora and fauna displays. The Center also provides support for local schools. City educators facilitate hands-on standards based programming for more than 3,000 elementary school students each year from 30 local schools. Approximately 80,000 visitors a year enjoy the Center's exhibits, wet lab, and surrounding marsh environment.

Sensitive Habitat Means Careful Work

The Center is located in areas of potential habitat for nesting avian species protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA), and other listed species such as the Salt Marsh Harvest Mouse and the Ridgeway's Rail (formerly the California Clapper Rail). An on-site biologist will conduct surveys and inspections prior to and during construction, to determine the presence or absence of these species and to verify habitat impact. 

Education Programs Moved to Cooley Landing Education Center

During construction activities, the Center will be unavailable to both the public and City programming staff. In order to continue its educational services during construction, Community Services has relocated its Baylands Open Space Education Program to Cooley Landing and its Education Center. Cooley Landing is located at the East end of Bay Road in East Palo Alto.

Starting November 2, 2016 the Cooley Landing Education Center will be open to the public Wednesdays and Thursdays, from 1:00pm - 4:00pm, and on Saturdays, from 12:00pm - 4:00pm.   

Baylands Boardwalk Improvements Project

Council approved the design and environmental services contract with Biggs Cardosa Associates, Inc. (BCA) on September 19, 2016. BCA will start design for the new boardwalk and environmental services on October 17, 2016.

Projects Documents
September 19, 2016 City Council Meeting Interpretive Center Staff Report and Boardwalk Staff Report
June 28, 2016 Parks and Recreation Commission Meeting 
Staff Report
and Slideshow
March 22, 2016 Parks and Recreation Commission Meeting Staff Report and Slideshow
March 2016 Feasibility Report (Final)
October 2015 Parks and Recreation Commission Summary 
September 2015 Community Meeting Presentation 

Contact: Public Works Department
(650) 329-2295

Project Manager: Elizabeth Ames
Project Engineer: Hung Nguyen

Last Updated June 21, 2016