Magazine Features

Network Listens for Passing Salmon

It’s a cold morning in early February, and Chris Vallee of the U.S. Geological Survey is motoring upriver along Steamboat Slough. His two-man crew is hunched in the bow with backs to the wind, wrapped to the ears in water-resistant jackets above warm layers. Vallee pilots the vessel in relative comfort behind the shelter of the windscreen. The boat passes the usual Delta sights: greenish-brown water drifting past road-crowned levees, the occasional dock and house, a greater egret the color of alabaster lifting off from a eucalyptus branch. After glancing periodically at the open laptop perched on his console, which displays a GPS map of our destination waypoints, Vallee turns the bow toward shore. The bank is armored with riprap and sheltered by a few trees. As we nose up to dry land, hydrologic technicians Norbert “Nubs” VandenBranden and Ryan...

Opening the Mouth of Walnut Creek

Paul Detjens is driving us from his Martinez office to a restoration site near the mouth of Walnut Creek on Suisun Bay, a project he spearheads as an engineer for the Contra Costa County Flood Control District. These lower reaches of the creek — straightened, widened, and leveed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers — have been a sluggish, silt-filled problem for more than half a century. Detjens has worked to find a solution for the last 17 years. Now that the district has taken the unusual approach of parting ways with the Corps in favor of local control, a fix is finally in sight. Goals include protecting people from floods, restoring habitat, reconnecting the creek with its historical floodplains, and offering public access so people can enjoy the wonders of newly restored marshes. “We want to work with...

Where have all the Herring Gone?

Pete has fished San Francisco Bay for nearly all of his 60 years. A lifelong San Francisco resident who keeps his last name to himself, he recalls herring runs in the 1970s the likes of which rarely, if ever, occur anymore. “I remember herring spawns that went from Oyster Point all the way to the Golden Gate Bridge,” says Pete, a former commercial fisherman, referring to the point near Brisbane. He also remembers massive spawns that stretched contiguously from the Tiburon peninsula out the Golden Gate to Point Bonita. Today, the fish still return. Each year between December and March, schools of Pacific herring, Clupea pallasii, lay and fertilize their eggs in the Bay’s shallow waters. When the fish gather at sites like Point Richmond, China Basin, and the Sausalito waterfront, so do frenzied birds and pinnipeds, all feasting on...
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Pearls in the ocean of information that our reporters didn’t want you to miss

Dennis McEwan finished work on the 430-acre Yolo Flyway Farms Tidal Habitat Restoration Project in September 2018. A month later, he retired.

The timing was no accident; he’d delayed his departure from the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) to see the project through after helping to launch it ten years earlier. But even from the very beginning of his career, McEwan had been committed to doing all he could for declining species in and around 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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