The San Francisco Estuary Institute has completed two new studies that address the challenge of designing restoration strategies that support resilient, ecologically functional landscapes within the Bay-Delta Estuary.
The Assessment of the South Bay Historical Tidal-Terrestrial Transition Zone reconstructs the former extent and character of the tidal-terrestrial transition zone (T-zone) in South San Francisco Bay. This component of coastal ecosystems is a critical conservation priority because of its contributions to both biodiversity and sea level rise adaptability; however, little information is available to guide T-zone design. The study (funded by the California Coastal Program of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) suggests that the South Bay T-zone was on average extremely broad – extending up to thousands of meters wide in some areas – and supported heterogeneous vegetation communities, with width and character shaped by both estuarine and terrestrial/fluvial influences. Information from the study is being used to identify appropriate objectives for T-zone restoration in the context of projected changes in land use and climate, including in the South San Francisco Bay Shoreline Study and the Baylands Ecosystem Habitat Goals Update.
Landscape Patterns and Processes
of the McCormack-Williamson Tract
and Surrounding Area: A framework
for restoring a resilient and
This study proposes ways to link short-term and long-term restoration planning based on (1) an understanding of the geomorphic and ecological processes of the historical landscape, and (2) an analysis of components which persist and may be useful for process-based landscape-scale restoration. The report (funded by The Nature Conservancy) highlights the potential of the McCormack-Williamson Tract as part of a larger “operational landscape unit” within the Northeast Delta, connecting to the Cosumnes Preserve and Stone Lakes. It explores how short-term actions at a site-scale can be strategically linked to establish the connectivity and physical drivers that will maximize long-term resilience. The landscape-scale vision initiated by the study has been featured in invited presentations to the Delta Stewardship Council and the Delta Independent Science Board, and is being advanced through continuing partnerships with TNC and the regional Delta Landscapes project.
Thanks to John Klochak of the US Fish and Wildlife Service and Leo Winternitz of The Nature Conservancy for initiating and supporting these efforts. For more information, please contact Erin Beller (South Bay Transition Zone; firstname.lastname@example.org), Julie Beagle (McCormack-Williamson Tract study; email@example.com), or Program Director Robin Grossinger (firstname.lastname@example.org).