Magazine Features

Feds Coastal Research Crew Bucks Headwinds

Jim Cloern looked out of an airplane window one day and saw red streaks in the water; crimson patches darkening the grey-green shallows that are San Francisco’s South Bay. A superscientist with the US Geological Survey, he knew something big was happening. As soon as the plane landed he called his crew. “You will not believe the explosion we’re seeing on the surface,” he heard back from his crew leader Tara Schraga. A quality control freak who sticks to the gold letter that is attached to everything labeled ‘USGS science,’ Schraga had spent the morning on their research vessel lowering sensors down into the shallows and then pulling them out again to log the levels of salt, nutrients, sediment, and phytoplankton between the surface and the bottom oozes. It turns out that the tiny drifting plankton visible from the airplane...

Purse Opens for PCA Projects

Marsh restoration, Bay and Ridge Trail extensions, and urban park upgrades are among the types of projects eligible to receive funding through the 2019 Bay Area Priority Conservation Area (PCA) One Bay Area Grant Program. By March, aided by new mapping tools that can pinpoint regional landscape characteristics and needs, more than 36 cities, counties, agencies and non-profits had submitted letters of interest to the program, outlining a variety of projects that benefit one or more of the Bay Area’s 165 PCAs (see map opposite). Altogether, the grant requests totaled more than $19 million. Some of these projects may help vulnerable shoreline areas defend against sea level rise; others may make urban hardscapes more porous under atmospheric river downpours; still others may connect vital migratory corridors for urban wildlife through the skyscrapers, industry, and neighborhoods of the metropolitan Bay Area....

Youth Learn to Shift as the World Shifts

In a bright classroom in the hills of East Oakland, youth huddle in small groups building miniature rain-catchment models. Birdhouses serve as the base for a catchment system composed of a foil gutter, a straw pipe, and a Dixie cup rain barrel. Spritzes of water from a spray bottle generate rain-like condensation, which trickles through the system into the barrel. The eight middle schoolers gathered on this chilly Saturday morning are participating in a youth social-media ambassador training organized by a climate-readiness program called Mycelium Youth Network. In a few weeks’ time, they will build a life-size rain catchment system here at Pear Tree Elementary School. Lil Milagro Henriquez founded Mycelium Youth Network in late 2017, while fires engulfed California. Mycelium was born “out of deep anxiety” from confronting the gravity of climate change, she says. Henriquez, who had just...
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Pied-billed grebes are providing valuable biocontrol services in the Estuary by consuming red swamp crayfish, an invasive crustacean known to disrupt ecosystems.

Although grebes are primarily fish-eaters (they swallow their own feathers to cushion the sharp bones), this species also consumes significant numbers of crayfish, sometimes detaching the pincers before swallowing the good part. Native to southern swamps and bayous, the red swamp crayfish has been introduced in the Sacramento Valley and San Francisco Delta. According to the...

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ESTUARY News is the 25-year-old regional magazine of the San Francisco Estuary Partnership and its myriad partners around the Bay and Delta. Written by professional, independent journalists, it provides in-depth, silo-crossing coverage of the environmental, restoration, and climate adaptation issues of our time, and tells the stories behind the 2016 Estuary Blueprint.

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