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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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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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Covid Clues from Wastewater

As COVID-19 continues its unrelenting rampage, wastewater plant managers and university researchers are ramping up their efforts to monitor wastewater for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the disease. Their goal is to give public health departments a powerful tool: an early warning system for new outbreaks in communities. In Yosemite Valley, for instance, wastewater testing revealed the presence of the virus in the community before swab testing of individuals showed a problem. “There’s a time delay before cases appear in...
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Creeks & Quilts for Climate

The Estuary News team has been working behind the scenes with partners on a cool new build out of our sister Acclimatewest project called the California Climate Quilt. Acclimatewest.org is a pilot storytelling site that gathers stories about creeks, sloughs, and shorelines adapting to sea level rise, describing who lives around them and what concerns they have about their environment, as well as exploring the local natural and human history of the area. At the same time, in a world...
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A Fragile Fleet

The naming of boats and ships is a serious matter. Each larger vessel’s name starts with a code that tells what it carries, what propels it, or what purpose it serves. If it were your hobby to keep tabs on traffic on San Francisco Bay, you’d see a lot of big UCCs (container ships) and TCHs and TCRs (tankers). You’d see ferries emblazoned with MV, standing for “motor vessel.” Before COVID-19, you would have spotted the occasional SS, standing for...
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More Grants for Real People

Even as “environmental justice” and “community engagement” have long been watchwords of restoration and resilience efforts, economically disadvantaged communities on San Francisco Bay’s shoreline have often felt sidelined by them. But that may be changing: the summer of 2020 saw new initiatives to give communities more power to shape and participate in restoration projects in their own backyards. In July, the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority kicked off its new Community Grants Program, allocating $200,000 of its $25 million 2020-21...
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The Delta’s Blooming Problem

Bright-green blotches of algae have been popping up all over the Delta since early summer, from Discovery Bay to the Stockton waterfront, befouling the air and poisoning the water with toxins that can sicken or even kill humans and animals. Veteran Delta watchers believe that this year’s harmful algal blooms may be the worst ever, and worry that some features of Governor Gavin Newsom’s recently released Water Resilience Portfolio for California will aggravate the problem. “We don’t have enough data...
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Match Points in Stormwater Soup

Scientists studying environmental pollutants tend to divide them into two distinct groups. One includes “legacy” contaminants that drew attention during the early stages of the environmental movement, like mercury, PCBs, and some pesticides. The other is a much larger class of “emerging” contaminants whose production or monitoring began more recently and about whom less is known; think pharmaceuticals, plastic additives, and flame retardants. Effluent from wastewater treatment plants is often seen as the primary source of emerging contaminants in San...
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Trolling for Salmon by Kayak

Whales scare us much more than sharks. They erupt from the ocean with a rush of displaced water and a poof of air. A collision could be disastrous. “Whale – go-go-go!” I shout. We pedal double-time to dodge the humpback, behind us and approaching from the left. A moment later it surfaces again, with another poof, now off to our right, moving away. We relax and slow back to our standard trolling speed of about 2.5 miles per hour, and...
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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