Trio of Habitat Goals Completed for 9 County Bay Area

Together with the Baylands Ecosystem Habitat Goals Project and the Uplands Habitat Goals Project, the completion of the San Francisco Bay Subtidal Goals Project represents a milestone in regional habitat planning for San Francisco Bay and its watersheds. We now have a comprehensive and innovative ecosystem-based management vision for a continuum of habitat types from the bottom of the bay to the ridge tops that ring it. Each goals report outlines recommendations for the preservation, restoration, and protection of habitat. These reports provide important tools to educate agencies, non-profits, private foundations, and others about the value of these habitats, and offer background information that can be used to seek funding for implementation.

Continuing work will focus on ways to link the recommendations of the three projects, as well as address overarching processes that affect all three areas at once, such as climate change. This may help in connecting restoration projects in subtidal habitats to those in adjacent marshes and uplands, to better capture benefits that extend over more than one habitat type and better anticipate ecological changes over time. Additional work being developed for both the Baylands and Uplands goals projects will assess and respond to ecological vulnerabilities to climate change, and will become available over the next few years.

Baylands Habitat Goals Project

Link to Baylands Ecosystem Goals Project, completed in 1999, used available scientific knowledge to identify the types, amounts, and distribution of wetlands and related habitats needed to sustain diverse and healthy communities of fish and wildlife resources in the San Francisco Bay Area. The project provided a biological basis to guide a regional wetlands planning process for public and private interests seeking to preserve, enhance, and restore the ecological integrity of wetland communities. The project was remarkably successful at articulating a vision for protecting and restoring 100,000 acres of wetland habitat in the bay, and the document has become a key tool used throughout the region to support wetlands restoration. As of November 2010, more than 40,000 acres of tidal wetlands have been acquired for restoration by private, local, state, and federal partners. Many agencies and non-profit organizations have voluntarily participated in the implementation of specific recommendations outlined in the Baylands Goals report. For example, the San Francisco Bay Joint Venture (SFBJV) is helping to coordinate implementation of some of the recommendations with local, state, and federal partners, and has developed an Implementation Strategy based on the Baylands Goals recommendations. The SFBJV has been tracking the progress towards tidal wetland acquisition, planning, and restoration through their partner database.

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Uplands Habitat Goals Project

Link to www.uplandhabitatgoals.orgThe San Francisco Bay Area Upland Habitat Goals Project has developed a science-based process based on existing and new data supplemented by expert opinion to recommend the types, amounts, and distribution of upland habitats, linkages, compatible uses and the ecological processes needed to sustain diverse and healthy communities of plant, fish and wildlife resources in the Bay Area. The project’s objectives are to: 1) increase the acreage of protected lands by increasing public and private funding for habitat acquisition and restoration; and 2) develop an increased awareness of key habitats among land management agencies and local jurisdictions charged with land use planning. The project has completed several reports over the past decade, with a comprehensive report to be released in 2011. The GIS database and reference documents developed by this project are intended to be decision-support tools to inform voluntary, non-regulatory investments, protection strategies and management policies of public resource agencies, nonprofit conservation organizations, local government, legislators and private foundations seeking to preserve, enhance and restore the biological diversity of upland habitats before advancing development eliminates remaining opportunities.

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Subtidal Habitat Goals Project

Link to http://www.sfbaysubtidal.orgRevealing the Hidden Bay: Final Report Is Available: State and federal agencies have released a groundbreaking new San Francisco Bay Subtidal Habitat Goals Report that outlines a bold vision for the hidden part of the Bay Area. The San Francisco Bay Subtidal Habitat Goals Project is led by the California Coastal Conservancy/Ocean Protection Council, Bay Conservation and Development Commission, NOAA Fisheries and Restoration Center, and the San Francisco Estuary Partnership. The Subtidal Habitat Goals Report and interactive maps are accessible and available online.

The 50-Year Plan is non-regulatory and presents a strong vision for how to move forward with science-based subtidal research, protection, and restoration, through an adaptive phased project approach to learn more about subtidal ecosystem services, functions, and interactions between habitat types.

The Report is the first time that comprehensive information about submerged areas in the bay has been compiled. The Report includes:

  • Broad regional goals for Science, Protection, and Restoration of underwater habitats in the bay, with detailed and specific objectives and actions for implementation over the 50-year planning horizon.
  • Six subtidal habitat types were considered: soft substrate (mud, sand, and other mobile substrates), rocky areas, artificial substrates (pier pilings, docks, etc.), shellfish beds, seagrass beds, and seaweed beds. The report also includes recommendations for intertidal mudflats, sand beaches, rocky shorelines, and oyster and eelgrass beds.
  • GIS maps were compiled from existing data sets, and show habitat distributions, stressors of concern, and targeted restoration areas.
  • Cross-habitat goals focus on recommendations to better deal with climate change impacts, invasive species, marine debris, oil spill response, and public awareness and involvement with subtidal areas.
  • Habitat integration goals focus on ideas for better improving design connectivity between high priority tidal wetland sites and offshore subtidal areas, to reduce habitat fragmentation for species that migrate between freshwater, wetlands and the open bay.

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