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E-News Magazine

Tallying Bird Populations Then and Now

How many ducks and geese used the Estuary before the Gold Rush? The numbers are beyond conjecture, but they must have been mind-boggling. Observers writing about a hundred years ago noted major decreases during the era of market hunting, when waterfowl were shot to supply the restaurants and stores of California’s emerging cities, but offered no hard numbers. However, they recorded their observations of the abundance and seasonal presence of different species. Since then, government surveys, Audubon Society Christmas Bird...
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Virtual RMP Annual Meeting Real-Life Success

Instead of a fancy room with plush seats, a catered lunch, and speakers at a podium sharing their presentations on a big screen, attendees at the 27th Annual Meeting of the Regional Monitoring Program for Water Quality in San Francisco Bay (RMP) experienced the report-out entirely virtually on their own computer screens, thanks to the Covid pandemic. Nevertheless, and despite Zoom burnout, the October event was a success, with many attendees voicing a preference for the virtual format. Hot science...
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Whatever Happened To…?

Reporters check up on past stories. Click to jump or scroll and read. Mercury in Trout Diet Derelict Ships Continued Hazard Sticking to it with Spartina COVID Complicates Encampment Cleanups Nesting Caspian Tern Turnover Cormorants Thrive on Shuttered Alcatraz Buckler Brouhaha Boils On Corte Madera Makes a Start Closure on Klamath Dams Sampling insects in stream. Photo: David Rundio, NOAA Mercury in Trout Diet The steelhead of Big Sur seemingly live in fish paradise. The water is cold and clean,...
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A Century of First Responders

When the August 16 lightning strikes started forking from the sky to the ground in the Bay Area, Sarah Lenz was driving back from the scene of a vehicle accident and fire. It was pitch dark in the 23,000-acre Crystal Springs watershed in San Mateo County where she is a watershed keeper and supervisor, or what you might think of as a water ranger—something like a park ranger but who protecting source watersheds for drinking water not parks.  Lenz’s main...
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Catching Up with Mycelium Youth Network

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, Mycelium Youth Network rolled with the punch. The pandemic came as a surprise to them as much as anyone, but Mycelium pivoted quickly to online programming. Nevertheless, the transition was a bitter pill to swallow. Leading into Covid, Mycelium was poised to drastically expand the reach of its programming by teaching courses through Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) and San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD), among others. They had secured the contracts and built the...
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Science-in-Short ~ Podcast

Putting Nature, Not People, in the Path of Sea Level Rise, an Interview with Julie Beagle. In this podcast, Estuary News reporter John Hart draws out Julie Beagle, a lead scientist at the San Francisco Estuary Institute, on ways of defending Bay shores in the era of sea level rise. Beagle describes several kinds of “nature-based” treatments that can delay and soften the onslaught; her special interest is in the placement of wave-absorbing “coarse beaches.” She also addresses the problem...
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As organizations and agencies scramble to preserve the Central Valley’s dwindling Chinook salmon runs, a group of scientists believes they may be overlooking a key factor in the decades-long decline of the fish: disease.

In a paper published in September’s issue of San Francisco Estuary and Watershed Science, a research team proposes that diseases—caused by viruses, bacteria and other microbes—could be suppressing juvenile salmon survival in a river system that once hosted millions of adult spawners each year. According to tracking studies, nearly all juvenile Chinook born from natural spawning die before they reach the Golden Gate Bridge; habitat enhancement efforts have failed to mitigate this mortality rate. Short-term studies of Central Valley salmon...
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Current estimates of young salmon lost to the south Delta pumps are based on a smattering of studies from the 1970s and should be updated, according to a new analysis.

“They don’t represent current operations,” says Ukiah-based consultant Andrew Jahn, lead author of the analysis reported in the September 2020 issue of San Francisco Estuary and Watershed Science. Current operations at the State Water Project (SWP) and the Central Valley Project (CVP) can reverse flows in the Old and Middle rivers, diverting salmon on their way to the ocean towards the projects. Existing salmon loss estimates also fail to account for a likely Old River hotspot for predators, drawn to the...
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Fish passage structures can be improved for the benefit of multiple species, if they are designed to account for differences in behavior, physical ability and size, according to a new literature review.

Historically, most fish passages have been designed to help native salmon return to their upstream habitat and spawning grounds, with little consideration for other migrating species such as sturgeon and lampreys. “There is an assumption that if you just build a fish passage structure, fish will go thorough it, but that is not always the case,” says Department of Water Resources fisheries biologist Zoltan Matica, who conducted the review. “The challenge is to understand that this isn’t only a physical...
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Spawning and rearing habitat for important forage-fish species in San Francisco Bay apparently shifts geographically by many miles depending on how much freshwater is flowing into the Estuary.

In a recent study, a team of scientists found that in a dry year, Pacific herring and longfin smelt larvae occurred farther up the Estuary than in a wet year, when spawning and recruitment was pushed seaward. The results suggest that the fish have broader geographic ranges than previously believed, a finding that could inform efforts to manage and protect their habitat. Biologists have long assumed that longfin smelt, a protected species in steep decline for decades, spawn strictly in...
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Science-in-Short ~ Podcast

Wall-to-Wall Sampling of the Delta’s Aquatic Weeds Via Remote Sensing, an interview with Shruti Khanna.  In this episode of the podcast, Estuary News reporter Daniel McGlynn talks to Dr. Shruti Khanna, a senior environmental scientist at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Their conversation focuses on Khanna’s use of remote sensing technology to study the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Specifically, Khanna analyzes and processes remote sensing data, or high- resolution images collected by sensors mounted on aircraft, to study invasive...
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Equity with Intention ~ Podcast

It might be a stretch for many of us to see the relationship between keeping the Estuary healthy and racism in our communities. But leaders and staffers in organizations and agencies across the San Francisco Bay Area have been steadily working to make this connection, and recent events – with the death of George Floyd and erupting protests – have made them ask themselves what more do they need to do?  In this first segment of Estuary Voices, the San...
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Science in Short ~ Podcast

David Ayers: How Fish Interact with Wetlands Topography  In this podcast, Estuary News reporter Alastair Bland and UC Davis PhD student and fish researcher David Ayers discuss the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, its fish, its marshlands, its flows, and its future. Ayers explains the focus of his research, which seeks to reveal how underwater topography in the wetlands fringing the estuary affects interactions between predators and small fish. While restoration projects often focus on adding more water to this ecosystem and...
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Small Farmers Shortchanged by SGMA

When governor Jerry Brown signed the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) into law in September 2014, he said that “groundwater management in California is best accomplished locally.” With the first round of plans made available for public comment this year, it appears that, while the state certainly ceded control to local management agencies, those same agencies have prioritized the interests of big agriculture and industry over small farmers and disadvantaged communities. A June 2020 paper from UC Davis published in...
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Nursing Salmon on Flooded Farms

In 2012 a team of salmon researchers tried a wild idea: putting pinky-sized Chinook on a rice field in the Yolo Bypass, a vast engineered floodplain designed to protect the city of Sacramento from inundation. The team found that rearing fish on farms works better than they had ever dreamed. Salmon in this managed floodplain grew so fast — averaging more than one millimeter per day — that they outpaced young Chinook elsewhere in the region. Now, after nearly a...
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Londons Roam and Feast on the Bay circa 1910

Jack London usually sailed west whenever he left the Oakland Municipal Wharf, but on December 18, 1913, he headed east — because he could. Although the canal connecting the Oakland Estuary to San Leandro Bay had been completed in 1902, it wasn’t until the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers widened and deepened the canal in 1913 that it became navigable. Aboard the Roamer, a 30-foot yawl London bought used in 1910, Jack and his wife, Charmian, approached the Park Street...
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Heavy Lifting for Fish

Ted Frink recalls watching Jacques Cousteau’s television specials when he was growing up in coastal Orange County. “I envisioned myself as Cousteau,” says Frink, a fisheries biologist with the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) now approaching retirement. “My folks encouraged my interest in science. I knew I could be a biologist.” That early inspiration sparked a long and varied career, culminating in his work as chief of DWR’s Special Restoration Initiatives Branch and his role in mitigating obstacles to...
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About Us

The San Francisco Bay-Delta is named in the federal Clean Water Act as one of 28 “estuaries of national significance." For over 20 years, the San Francisco Estuary Partnership has worked together with local communities and federal and state agencies to improve the health of California’s most urbanized estuary.

San Francisco Estuary Partnership 1515 Clay Street, Suite 1400 Oakland, CA 94612 (510) 622-2304

Association of Bay Area Governments