Magazine Features

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...

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....

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...

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....

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,...

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...
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Pearls in the ocean of information that our reporters didn’t want you to miss

New research indicates that survival of juvenile Chinook salmon in the Sacramento River system can be significantly boosted by achieving key thresholds for river flow.

The findings, published in the journal Ecosphere, add important context to the general scientific understanding that more water in the river improves fish survival. Previous studies, the authors explain in their paper, have demonstrated that more juvenile salmon migrating toward the sea complete their journey when the Sacramento River system contains more water. Just how...

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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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