NOVATO (CBS SF) — The San Francisco Bay just got 648 acres bigger. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Friday intentionally breached a levee, flooding parts of military land from Hamilton Army Airfield.

A giant earthmover clawed through the already wet mud along the levee in preparation for the onslaught of saltwater into the marshland near Novato, along the northwestern shore of San Pablo Bay.

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With a few final mechanical mouthfuls of boulders and mud, the water rushed in, restoring water to areas that had been dry for nearly a century.

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The California Coastal Conservancy and the Corps planned the dramatic reopening along with Congressman Jared Huffman (D) San Rafael.

The airfield was built in the 1930s to accommodate bomber squadrons after World War One. During World War Two, B-17 bombers from the field had been dispatched to Hawaii, arriving on December 7th, 1941 to discover the carnage of Pearl Harbor, flying in unarmed during the Japanese attack.

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It held various roles in support of the Air Force until being turned over to the Army, and then eventually it was shut down and converted to civilian use and for coastal restoration in 1996.

Levee Breached At Hamilton Airfield In Novato (KPIX)

Levee Breached At Hamilton Airfield In Novato (KPIX)