Tennessee Hollow Watershed Restoration

Beginning Date

Late 1990s

Completion Date



Bridge in the Tennessee Hollow Watershed

At 270 acres, Tennessee Hollow is the largest watershed in the Presidio. It is home to three creek tributaries and is one of the primary freshwater sources for the restored Crissy Marsh.

Since the late 1990s, the Presidio Trust, National Park Service, and Parks Conservancy have been working toward restoring the entire watershed, from its headwaters to the bay, to restore a vibrant, contiguous, and diverse mosaic of native plant communities and wildlife habitat. This multi-year project is significant not only for its restoration potential, but also for the extraordinary opportunities for watershed-based education, public engagement, and community stewardship afforded by its location within a national park site at the edge of a major urban center.


The ambitious scale of this project necessitated a phased approach—as creeks were daylighted, habitat  restored, trails  built, community engagement programs expanded, and seedlings  planted by volunteers. Work began in the headwaters of the watershed near Inspiration Point in the late 1990s, followed by the restoration of Crissy Marsh (2001), Thompson Reach (2005/2006), El Polín Spring (2011), YMCA Reach (2013/2014), MacArthur Meadow (2015/2016), and Quartermaster Reach (underway).

The Ecology Trail, with distinctive habitats ranging from shaded forests to serpentine grasslands, meanders through the Tennessee Hollow and connects the Arguello Gate and Inspiration Point to the historic Main Post. A new trail and “boardwalk” improve access to the natural wonders of El Polín Spring, while protecting this vital ecosystem that supports a multitude of bird species.

The most recently completed restoration project, MacArthur Meadow, is located at the convergence of the three creek tributaries of the Tennessee Hollow Watershed. For years, this site was overlain with fill materials and invasive plants. The project team restored native wet meadow and riparian habitat by daylighting 1,400 feet of braided stream channel and planting 20,000 plants representing 60 different species (grown and planted with the help of dedicated volunteers). Lastly, to provide access and wildlife viewing opportunities for visitors while protecting the restored habitat, the team constructed a new boardwalk to the historic Lovers' Lane Bridge.

YOU can help us realize our vision for the Tennessee Hollow Watershed’s wildlife, forests, tributaries, and trails by donating or volunteering.


In addition to donations from thousands of individual community members work in the Tennessee Hollow Watershed has received support from:

  • Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund
  • James Irvine Foundation
  • Kingfisher Foundation
  • Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation
  • Weeden Foundation
  • RBC Foundation
  • Mr. and Mrs. Matthew R. Barger
  • Lynn and Peter Wendell
  • Julie and Will Parish
  • John Atwater and Diana Nelson
  • John and Laura Gamble
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • State Water Resources Control Board

Project Status


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