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Gophers Undo Brownfield Restoration

Posted by Christina B. Farnsworth

Feb 27, 2014 12:31:00 PM

Gizmodo reports that gophers are undoing the best efforts of those who recycled a Berkeley landfill into a 90-acre park along San Francisco Bay.

“Let this be your cautionary tale against building a pretty waterfront park on a landfill,” the feature begins. Yet apparently, only the Cesar Chavez Park on the Berkeley Marina has a rodent invasion problem. Other area landfill parks are not overrun with burrowing critters who drill through the clay caps covering the landfill and supposedly sealing up the grunge and pollutants.

Squirrels and gophers are burrowing through old trash, turning the ground into toxin-leaching Swiss cheese poison—“garbage juice”—from an estimated 1.9 millions tons of residential, commercial and industrial waste now leaching into San Francisco Bay.

The ground squirrels are kind of cute and the western pocket gophers are largely unseen, but water-quality officials call the rodents a burrowing menace that must be stopped.

Experts had already tried introducing raptors and other natural means to diminish the rodent population without success, but now officials are bringing in exterminators to trap and kill the animals. Officials blame park visitors who feed the squirrels for causing the problem (in fact, the San Francisco Chronicle interviewed one park visitor as she was feeding the squirrels.) The pest control will start with one acre of the park/landfill, and if successful, take on all 90 acres, according to an article in the San Francisco Chronicle.

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