SANTA CLARA, Calif.
— Swans CEO Richard G. Johnson announced Monday that the company has entered into a $2.3 billion project to upgrade the Swan Creek Aquarium and the Swan River in downtown Santa Clara, Calif., with the goal of creating a more sustainable, equitable and accessible environment for the city’s birds.
The $2 billion project, known as Swan River Project, will include the construction of a new, three-story, $500 million Aquarium building and the construction and management of a 1.6 million square-foot habitat building, which is expected to house 10,000 birds.
“The project will include a complete reimagining of the Swan and the Aquarium, and we are thrilled to be collaborating with the City of Santa Clara to deliver the most innovative, sustainable and inclusive city-building project in the world,” Johnson said.
“We look forward to building a strong and sustainable future for our birds and the thousands of visitors who come to visit this great city.”
The Aquarium was founded in 1902 as the first breeding facility for swans in the United States.
Today, it has more than 20 million visitors each year.
The Swan River, a natural waterway, is home to more than 250 species of migratory birds, including several endangered species.
Its waters are also rich in nutrients that support local economies, including local tourism, fish and bird tourism, and waterfowl habitat.
Johnson said the Aquaria’s new habitat building will include habitat for more than 1,000 breeding swans, which are also being relocated to new nesting sites in the Swan Reservoir.
He said the new habitat will also include habitat that will provide a home for the breeding pairs that will eventually be released from their existing dams.
“These swans are so unique, so beautiful, and so much more than we can possibly capture in the aquarium, so we are very pleased that we are bringing them here and they are coming home,” Johnson told reporters.
“We are committed to working with the city and the water department to provide this facility and this habitat for our native birds.”
The project, which will cost about $300 million, is expected start in 2019.
Johnson, who has been CEO of the world’s largest waterfarming company for 35 years, also announced that the city has awarded Swans an $18 million federal grant to expand its efforts to promote and protect migratory bird species and habitats in California.
The grant will support an extensive network of bird-watching sites in California, including a bird sanctuary and habitat facility at the Swan Valley Aquarium.
The new $1 million grant will allow Swans to expand the Swan Conservation Center to include a dedicated habitat and bird sanctuary.
“This is the next step in the journey to improve the environmental and conservation status of our birds in California,” Johnson noted.
“This project will benefit the birds, the community and the Bay Area.”
“It’s a great example of the kind of collaborative, long-term thinking that’s been built over the last 35 years,” said Kate Anderson, the president of the California Bird Conservancy.
Anderson added that the grant “marks a historic moment for the Bay area, a new and vital partner for us to work with and for the local government to create sustainable future.”
“I know that the Bay will benefit from this and I hope it will be a model for the rest of the country,” she said.
“It’s really about putting a vision forward for our future.”
The $18-million grant is part of a larger $1 billion investment to support the restoration of native species and to improve habitats in the Bay.
The funding will be used to purchase habitat for the migratory species, and to help local and state agencies better protect the birds and their habitat.
The funding for the new project is part in a $400 million federal Wildlife Restoration Fund (WRF), which was established in 2017 to protect and restore wild populations of migrations, native plants and animals.
“We are thrilled that the City and the Swans are making a significant investment in this project to help protect the migrations of the Bay and help us achieve the goals we all share: the protection of our bird communities and the preservation of wildlife for future generations,” Johnson added.