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Featured June 2021

Bay Fish Still Not Good Eating

After decades of efforts to clean up San Francisco Bay, its fish still carry a toxic load that makes them unfit for human consumption. A new Regional Monitoring Program (RMP) report on its 2019 sport fish survey contains some positive news: an overall decline in polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE), hopeful trends in polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and dioxin, and continued low selenium levels. But no downward trend was found for mercury. Then there are per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which the...
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Trail to a Fire-Safe Watershed

Long insulated from severe risk by mild temperatures and the fog that regularly swaddles the Santa Cruz Mountains, San Mateo County now finds itself — like the rest of the Bay Area — facing the climate-driven prospect of catastrophic wildfire. The threat is leading one of the county’s largest landowners to devote unprecedented resources to fire-prevention efforts in the Peninsula Watershed — efforts that will also restore parts of the landscape to an approximation of their historical condition. “In the...
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Thinking Like Beaver to Aid Yellow Creek

Last fall, the Maidu Summit Consortium, a nonprofit composed of nine Mountain Maidu tribal member groups, installed 73 BDAs—beaver dam analogs—in Yellow Creek, a tributary to the North Fork Feather River and a state-listed heritage trout stream. Swift Water Design and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service designed the structures, and Mountain Maidu tribal youth worked with Swift Water to build them. The idea behind the structures, which mimic beaver dams, is to slow erosion, catch sediment, and build up the...
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Perspective:

As drought parches California, obliterates its snowpack, and reduces rivers to trickles, a familiar feud over water has resurfaced. Farmers want more of it to irrigate their crops, while fishermen and environmentalists want more left in rivers to protect the state’s Chinook salmon. Mainstream news outlets often portray the struggle as one between two groups ravaged by environmental whims and climate change. However, this interpretation weaves a false equivalence through the narrative. Whereas the state’s Chinook and coho salmon runs...
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Moonrise over Giant Marsh: New Monitoring Data from Two-Year-Old Supershore Project

Kathy Boyer is used to getting up in the dark so she can slide across the mudflats into the Bay at first light. But this past May, she got a once-in-a-decade treat. As the professor from SF State’s Estuary & Ocean Science Center aimed her boogie board at some two-year-old eelgrass beds growing off the Richmond shoreline, the Super Flower Blood Moon rose in the blue field of the western sky. “It’s hard to get up at 4 a.m. but...
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Cooking Food in a Sacramento Shipping Channel?

The learned doctors attending the bedside of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta agree on one thing: the patient is not doing well. What ails it, many students of the case suggest, is dehydration: the perennial artificial drought induced by withdrawals of water for human use, whether pulled from feeder rivers or extracted from the Delta itself. The obvious prescription — that society moderate its demands — is politically very hard to fill. Recently, though, attention has turned to what might...
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Three Ways to Feed the Marsh

Seal Beach is drowning. As a result of sea-level rise, subsidence, and limited sediment supply, much of the 920-acre National Wildlife Refuge in Orange County can no longer keep its head above water. Pacific cordgrass, normally exposed at low tides, is being completely inundated. Rare nesting habitat for the endangered light-footed clapper rail is disappearing at high tides. It’s a marsh manager’s worst nightmare, and a potential harbinger of things to come later this century for tidal wetlands up and...
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Ballpark Battlegrounds

In June, Mountain View’s Permanente Creek is barely a trickle. Culverts burp water into a concrete channel abutted by schools, houses, and ballparks. A pair of mallards splash through the water, not even up to their ankles. After a dry winter, it’s hard to look at these conditions and imagine that gurgle of water rising up over its concrete banks to flood the city, which might explain part of the decade-long push and pull between some residents and flood managers...
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The Coast Whisperer

Sam Schuchat, outgoing chief of the California State Coastal Conservancy, is perhaps one of the most dapper state officials I’ve ever met. He often wears an elegant hat with a brim and band, no Giants bill cap or REI wooly for the leader of a powerful state agency, one that has done more to ensure that the coast is accessible to all Californians than any other. Of course, Schuchat would say he had a lot of help — partners everywhere,...
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Ancient River Channels Could Speed Groundwater Recharge

By the time California finally began regulating groundwater use in 2014, most of the San Joaquin Valley was in critical overdraft. The Public Policy Institute of California estimates that groundwater pumping in the region has exceeded replenishment by an average of 1.8 million acre-feet per year over the last few decades. This imbalance was even worse during our last drought, when overuse shot up to 2.4 million acre-feet per year. Overpumping puts groundwater aquifers at risk of compaction, permanently reducing...
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Bay Trail Retreat at Bothin Marsh

The Bay Trail connecting Sausalito and Mill Valley is a bustling pathway where recreational bicyclists, bike commuters, and pedestrians all mix amidst the bayfront marsh scenery of the Bothin Marsh Open Space Preserve. Around thirty times per year, though, this scene looks dramatically different, as high tides flood the area with seawater, making the path impassable. Experts say this demonstrates how vulnerable the path and marsh are to sea-level rise, and an ambitious new project is underway to re-engineer the...
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Little Mud, Lotta Work

For decades, patches of Creekside Marsh at Hal Brown Park in Corte Madera lay barren. “There wasn’t a single thing growing,” says Sandy Guldman, 80, a recently retired environmental consultant who is also president of the nonprofit group Friends of Corte Madera Creek Watershed. “The soil was all old fill.” Many of the bare patches are now covered with planted and volunteer pickleweed, saltgrass, marsh baccharis, and more. The remainder is at least partially vegetated, thanks to a recently completed...
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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