Magazine Features

Not So Picky Marsh Mouse

The endangered salt marsh harvest mouse (informally “Salty”) is a poster child for tidal marsh restoration in San Francisco Bay. But recent research, presented by University of California at Davis postdoc Katie Smith in a State of the Estuary conference session on tidal wetlands, suggests we’ve misinterpreted what the mouse needs. “It’s been managed as a habitat specialist,” she said, based on assumptions that it requires tidal wetlands and a diet of pickleweed. However, hours of mouse-tracking around the Bay show that it also thrives in managed wetlands and eats a variety of plants, including non-native species. Although restoration projects have created high-tide refuges for the mice, Smith’s preliminary data suggest other rodent species exclude them from those sites. That was in a wet year, though; a dry year could shift the dynamic, favoring salties. “We’ve thought about the species...

Flows and Ecosystem Function Dominate Delta Plan Amendment

With the Delta lagging behind the Bay on four of the State of the Estuary Report’s five indicators, the last long-range plan for restoring its ecological health abandoned, and the threats from climate change becoming ever more alarming, the need for a new regulatory vision for the region may never have been greater. A pending amendment to the Delta Plan, shared by Ron Melcer at the State of the Estuary Conference as part of a policy update session, is meant to provide that vision and the strategies to achieve it. The amendment — to Chapter Four of the Delta Plan, which focuses on the Delta ecosystem — was developed in response to the state’s pivot away from the 2013 Bay-Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP), said Melcer. “The Delta Plan was [originally] written anticipating that the BDCP would be adopted and then...

Big Picture Review of Regional Science and Governance

Offshore, kelp forests were dwindling. Outside, hillsides were burning. Inside the Scottish Rite Center in Oakland, scientists and policy people were sharing the latest findings concerning the vital shallows in between: the San Francisco Estuary. The patient pursuit of knowledge, essential to smart action in a changing world, had chalked up a fruitful two years. Of the action itself, there was rather less sign. Felicia Marcus might speak to that better than anyone. As chair of the State Water Resources Control Board, she had coaxed along a nine-year process, mandated by law, to raise minimum flows in the major rivers that sustain the Estuary. The Board took the first of several wrenchingly hard decisions 12 months ago. Result: the process was put on hold, pending another round of stakeholder negotiations, and Marcus lost her job. Marcus did not mention these...
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California Sun Podcast Interview with ESTUARY’s Editor Dives into All Things Bay & Delta on the Front Burner Today

This August the California Sun’s Jeff Schechtman interviewed ESTUARY magazine’s editor in chief Ariel Rubissow Okamoto, also a long-time Bay Area science writer, about her personal opinions on the resiliency of the largest estuary on the West Coast, the challenges facing the Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta, and the potential impacts of climate change and sea level...

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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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