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Alviso Marina County Park Sunset Pictures, November 27, 2010

Alviso Marina is located at the end of the Guadalupe River and the start of the Alviso Slough, in the historic community of Alviso. Alviso was once a small, independent town, incorporated in 1852, but became part of San Jose in 1968. It provides San Jose's only boat access to San Francisco Bay. It was once a bustling seaport in the mid-19th century, shipping agricultural products from the Santa Clara Valley and mercury from the New Almaden Mines. Competition from railroads resulted in the decline of shipping. In later years, ground subsidence from over-drawing underground water caused the town to sink below sea level, resulting in the need for levees to protect it from floods.  Adjacent marshes were diked to create salt ponds. In 1964, Santa Clara County purchased land from the salt company and built a marina. The marina had a 9-acre basin and 76 boat slips. High levels of sediment required costly dredging to keep the marina open. In the 1980's, dredging ceased, and the marina was allowed to fill in with sediment and bulrushes. While they could no longer be used for boating, the launching slips remained as ghostly reminders of the former marina that became a marsh. In 2005, the County converted the ramps into boardwalks for viewing wildlife and plants in the marsh. Viewing platforms, access ramps, picnic tables, interpretive signs, and landscaping were added. One boardwalk allowed crossing the marsh to the Alviso Slough Trail. On June 5, 2010, new boat launch ramps were opened. They are on the Alviso Slough and provide access for kayaks, canoes, and small powerboats.

Alviso Marina County Park is small, covering only 18.9 acres, but it is the gateway to the huge Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge, which covers 30,000 acres around the South Bay. There are over 15 miles of trails in the Alviso section of the refuge, running on levees around former salt ponds.

These HDR (High Dynamic Range) pictures were taken at Alviso Marina County Park on November 27, 2010 in the late afternoon, as rain clouds were breaking up.

A stairway leads down to one of the former boat slips, now a viewing platform on the marsh.

Entrance to the viewing platform.

This boardwalk leads across the marsh to the Alviso Slough Trail.

East of the marina are salt ponds and an active railroad line.

View looking across the marsh that fills the former marina.

View looking towards the parking lot for the marina.

At the northeast corner of the marina, the Alviso Slough Trail, part of the San Francisco Bay Trail, begins on the former salt ponds that are now part of the US Fish & Wildlife Service's refuge. The main trail loop runs for 9 miles along the Alviso Slough, the Coyote River, and around the ponds. There is a connection to the 5.5-mile Mallard Slough Trail loop to the east, which leads to the Alviso Environmental Education Center. The trails are on levees made of dried bay mud, and they get very soft and muddy in spots after even a small amount of rain, so they are best taken in the summer. The trails around the marina are paved, gravel, or decomposed granite, so they are usable in the rainy season.

Looking southeast towards Alviso. Below is a small pond. Behind it are the Southern Pacific Railroad Tracks. Behind them are the wetlands of the New Chicago Marsh.

Looking across a small pond at the historic buildings of Alviso.

Looking back towards the restroom and ramps and the marina.

The ramps and walkway at the marina.

The start of the boardwalk across the marsh.

Interpretive sign mid-way along the boardwalk across the marsh.

Interpretive sign at the former salt pond.

Looking back towards the new boat launching ramps.

The Alviso Slough Loop Trail.

Former salt pond next to the trail.

Terraces at the end of the parking lot form an amphitheater overlooking the marsh. The boat ramps are on the left.

Alviso Marina Opening, June 5, 2010

On June 5, 2010, the Santa Clara County Parks celebrated the opening of the boat docks at the Alviso Marina. The project required dredging, brush clearing, construction of a new parking lot, interpretive signs, launching ramp, and 2 floating docks on the Alviso Slough. One of the docks is for kayaks and canoes. The other is for motorboats. At the opening ceremony, there were speeches by Acting County Parks Director Julie Mark, County Supervisor Dave Cortese, San Jose mayor Chuck Reed, San Jose Councilmember Kansen Chu, Water Board member Dick Santos, and other dignitaries. There were informational, commercial, and community booths, entertainment, food, and free kayak rides. There was a large dragonboat that also gave rides. The marina provides San Jose's only public boat access to the Bay. The project was funded through grants from the California Department of Boating and Waterways and the San Francisco Bay Water Trail Project, with land contributed in part by the California State Lands Commission.

Ribbon-cutting at the boat docks

Boating rules and maps near the boat docks.

Launching kayaks

County Supervisor Dave Cortese (in blue) in the dragonboat, with Acting County Parks Director Julie Mark behind him

The dragonboat launches.

Crowds at the boat docks

Kayak on the Alviso Slough. From the boat launching ramp, it is about 4 miles to San Francisco Bay.
Photographs by Ron Horii. Cameras: Olympus E-510 (11/27/10) and Canon A720IS (6 /5/10). HDR software: Photomatix Pro 3.2. Photo editing: Photoshop Elements 9. Page created by Ron Horii, 11/30/10, updated 12/12/11