Current Issue at a Glance


Cover LargeThe March issue covers the Estuary north, south, east and west. It details lessons being learned from a rock barrier on the False River designed to prevent salt water intrusion into the Delta, and says farewell to the grande dame of Bay research, a yacht called the Polaris now being replaced with a catamaran. The issue also explores the buzz on “resilience” in climate change planning and then gives the low down on two recent restorations at opposite ends of the Bay: one on Sonoma Creek and the other at Bair Island. An opinion piece urges support for Measure AA and science news tracks El Niño effects on the movement of mercury and sediment.

F E A T U R E D   A R T I C L E S

Keeping Salt Field at Bay II

By Robin Meadows

Just a year ago, our “wet” season was so dry that state water officials panicked. Water managers worried about the hot, dry months and if reservoirs could hold enough for freshwater releases to keep saltwater from pushing deep into the Delta, contaminating water supplies to cities and farms. They built a barrier to block the salt instead, and then monitored the effects. By this spring, they had some interesting results. READ ON

Mainstreaming Resilience

By Ariel Rubissow Okamoto

Vote for BeautyWhatever the “perturbation” coming our way — a flood, a drought, a weed or Donald Trump — our recovery, in the aftermath, depends on something ecologists call resilience. It’s a term everyone is pasting onto their management initiatives these days — resilient landscapes, resilient shorelines, resilient
water supplies… But what exactly does it mean, and how is it different from other fashionable buzzwords that have galvanized Californians into thinking about the future? READ ON

Bay Belle

By Joe Eaton

Bay BelleSide by side at a Redwood City marina, two vessels await their very different destinies. The Research Vessel Polaris, a classy 96-foot yacht, spent decades 
as the workhorse of the US Geological Survey’s San Francisco Bay science program. Her successor is a 67-foot aluminum catamaran called the RV David H Peterson. Once she’s refitted and the Polaris’ equipment transferred over, the Peterson will carry Bay science into the future. READ ON

Do the Pieces Fit?

By John Hart

PiecesThis summer, the San Francisco Estuary Partnership publishes its new Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (CCMP) for the Bay-Delta Estuary. That word “comprehensive” stakes quite a claim. If the CCMP is the closest thing we have to a master vision for the future of these waters in the era of climate change, it is also just one in swarm of plans and planning efforts purporting to shape that future. How do they all get along? READ ON


Waiting for the Big One

By Lisa Owens Viani

Waiting for the BigThis March, when the first of El Niño’s bigger storms rained on the Bay Area, crews from the San Francisco Estuary Institute pulled on their parkas and dashed out to take water samples. Last September, stakeholders in the Regional Monitoring Program had decided they would be remiss if they did not try to measure some high priority pollutants during an El Niño year, and now the data gathering has begun. READ ON

Skeeters Undone

By Joe Eaton

Skeeters UndoneWe used to blame malaria
 and other diseases on miasmas, mysterious vapors emanating from swamps and marshes. Once the 
role of marsh-breeding mosquitoes in disease transmission was established, draining their habitat became a public health imperative. But draining doesn’t have to mean destruction. Teaming up, various NGOs and resource agencies have replumbed a dysfunctional marsh near the mouth of Sonoma Creek, eliminating a mosquito hotspot while enhancing habitat for endangered wildlife and bolstering a wetland’s resilience against sea level rise. READ ON

Selective Sowing

By Daniel McGlynn

SowingThe last two years have been hard on restoration plantings that don’t rely on supplemental water. That’s why some projects that are concerned with establishing native plant footholds have been taking advantage of the recent wet weather window. The bulk of these, about 70,000, are being planted at the Oro Loma Horizontal Levee on the Hayward Shoreline. But Save the Bay volunteers are also planting gum plant, saltgrass, alkali heath, and creeping rye, and other species in transition zone habitats at Bair Island.

Vote for Beauty & Safety

By Kathleen M. Wong

Resiliency - Ridgeways RailsAs the icecaps melt and the seas rise, the Bay Area and its densely populated communities face a momentous choice. In one scenario, we could carry on as usual, adding incrementally to the muddy necklace of wetlands that ring its shores. In due time, this option could commit our region’s cities to erect ugly walls between themselves and the Bay. In an alternative scenario, we citizens could vote to approve a $12 per parcel tax this June 7, and move rapidly toward a safer, more beautiful shoreline in the future.