Estuary Blueprint


In 1992, when the San Francisco Estuary Partnership produced its first Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (CCMP), the community of participants was looking largely backward in time to the 19th century before massive population growth and ensuing development occurred around the Estuary. At the time, the science of how the Estuary worked was in its infancy, and the politics of managing San Francisco Bay and the Delta were embroiled in various battles over water supply, dredging, fish, pollution, and other environmental ills.

The first CCMP was produced after several years of status assessments and policy discussions in which over 100 different stakeholder groups took part. It was the first plan to recognize that the Bay and the Delta should be managed as one Estuary, and remains the only plan of such scope to date. 

SFEP Planning Area Map

The 1992 CCMP used new science and regional partnerships to begin resolving natural resource conflicts and fixing damage to habitats and species of the Estuary. Its framers crafted goals and actions with an eye toward restoring the landscapes and waterways of a less disturbed era. They cast restoration objectives with the intent of bringing the Estuary back to the health and vitality of an earlier time.

After 14 years of implementation, the CCMP was updated in 2007 to include new and revised actions while maintaining many actions from the original. Twenty-five years later, we know that we can never recover that Estuary; it is too altered by human development, too invaded by alien species, and too changed from the way it used to function historically. We do know, however, that we can bring back vibrant, healthy habitats to some parts of the Estuary, and that they in turn help recover endangered species. We also know that despite population growth, we can still conserve water, grow wetlands, green cities, and protect some wildlife. With these successes in mind, and with access to so many new shorelines for recreation and personal enjoyment, those who live around the Estuary are more eager than ever to help sustain it.

So what is to be the future of the Estuary that sits at the heart of 12 Bay Area and Central Valley counties and serves all of California as the hub of a critical water supply system? How can the people and communities that surround the Estuary best protect this economic engine and ecological treasure? Can we sustain all the beneficial uses of its waters—for drinking, irrigation, shipping, fishing, recreation—while reducing stresses on its habitats and wildlife and restoring them to health? If climate change and population growth continue as projected, what will the Estuary look like in 50 years? How do we plan for both expected changes and those we cannot yet foresee? What actions can we take now to help ensure a thriving Estuary in 2050, 35 years in the future?

These are the pressing questions that the San Francisco Estuary Partnership, working with hundreds of partners over the last 20 years, has sought to answer. And it is these questions that shape the core of our new Estuary Blueprint (formerly the CCMP). The purpose of the 2016 Estuary Blueprint is to provide all of us who call this place home with a working blueprint for cleaner waters, enhanced habitats, and healthier fish and wildlife.