Topic: Wetlands

Overview

Wetlands

Wetlands are among the most important ecosystems in the world. They produce high levels of oxygen, filter toxic chemicals out of water, reduce flooding and erosion and recharge groundwater. They also serve as critical habitat for wildlife, including a large percentage of plants and animals on California’s endangered species list.

As the state has grown into one of the world’s leading economies, Californians have developed and transformed the state’s marshes, swamps and tidal flats, losing as much as 90 percent of the original wetlands acreage—a greater percentage of loss than any other state in the nation.

While the conversion of wetlands has slowed, the loss in California is significant and it affects a range of factors from water quality to quality of life.

Wetlands still remain in every part of the state, with the greatest concentration in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and its watershed, which includes the Central Valley. The Delta wetlands are especially important because they are part of the vast complex of waterways that provide two-thirds of California’s drinking water.

Aquafornia news Water Finance & Management

Radhika Fox appointed to lead EPA’s Office of Water

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced the selection of US Water Alliance CEO Radhika Fox as the Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Office of Water. Fox was a Day One Presidential Appointee in the Biden-Harris Administration. She will serve as the Acting Assistant Administrator for Water.

Aquafornia news The Pagosa Springs SUN

Opinion: When water dries up, it can be deadly

In Oregon, the Klamath Basin wildlife refuges have fallen into their winter silence now. The huge, clamorous flocks of geese that fill the sky during migration have moved south.  This summer, a different silence gripped the basin. A dead silence. The 90,000 acres of marshes and open water that make up the Lower Klamath and Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuges are a small remnant of vast wetlands that once filled this region on the Oregon-California border.
-Written by Pepper Trail, a contributor to Writers on the Range and a conservation biologist in Ashland, Ore.

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

At dawn of Biden administration, opportunities for water systems

President Joe Biden has made his priorities clear: subduing the pandemic, economic recovery, climate action, and racial equity. … Climate has received top-billing within the president’s environmental agenda, but water infrastructure and water systems could also see their status lifted. Some observers are hopeful that the new administration and the Democratic Congress will uncork federal water spending that has been steady but flat in recent years. 

Aquafornia news Somach Simmons & Dunn | Attorneys at Law

Blog: Sacramento Superior Court rejects State Water Board’s attempt to apply Water Quality Control Plan to waters not covered by the Clean Water Act

The Sacramento County Superior Court recently issued a final decision in San Joaquin Tributaries Authority v. California State Water Resources Control Board, finding that the State Water Resources Control Board (State Board) is not authorized to adopt a state-level water quality control plan for waters that are not classified as waters of the United States. As a result, the State Board is prohibited from applying the Water Quality Control Plan for Inland Surface Waters and Enclosed Bays and Estuaries of California (Inland Surface Waters WQCP) to wetlands that do not meet the federal definition of waters of the United States.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

LA has plan for network of waterways in the land of cars

On Wednesday, Los Angeles County officials released their preliminary master plan for the river “reimagined” to support both ecosystems and people who live along [the LA River's] 51-mile corridor. … The long-awaited plan — the result of five years of input from community residents, organizations and people like renowned architect Frank Gehry — will provide a foundation as the region balances its duty to protect properties from flooding with the need for more access to natural environments.

Aquafornia news North Coast Journal

Our newest public space: Samoa Dunes and Wetlands Conservation Area

You may know it as Dog Ranch or perhaps Dead Man’s Drop Forest, but forget that. The parcels immediately to the west of Samoa Bridge [near Humboldt Bay] are now officially the Samoa Dunes and Wetlands Conservation Area. “We’re looking to re-introduce this place to our community,” says Mike Cipra, who heads up Friends of the Dunes, the new titleholder of the 357 acres. “This property is a fantastic jewel for our local community and we want to emphasize just how special it is with the name.”

Aquafornia news Desert Sun

Salton Sea habitat project breaks ground near New River

Construction began this week on a 4,110-acre wetlands project on the Salton Sea’s playa near the mouth of the highly polluted New River, the California Department of Natural Resources announced Wednesday. Called the Species Conservation Habitat Project, the $206.5 million plan will build ponds and wetlands along the small delta to provide wildlife habitat and suppress dust. The final design includes 340 additional acres of coverage as compared to older projections, and work led by Kiewit Infrastructure West Co. is expected to be finished by 2024.

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Aquafornia news Capital Press

Pendulum swings in Clean Water Act regulation

The regulatory pendulum is expected to swing toward stricter Clean Water Act enforcement, though experts say the Biden administration’s changes probably won’t be immediate. Farmers and environmentalists have been in a political tug-of-war over the law’s scope for years, largely due to ambiguous legal interpretations of the statute. While Democrats will now have power over Congress, their majority is too slim to make changes to the law, said Don Parrish, the American Farm Bureau Federation’s senior director of regulatory relations.

Aquafornia news The Log

CDFW approves restoration project for Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has certified the final Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for a project aiming to restore the largest coastal wetlands complex in Los Angeles County and increase public access to outdoor recreation and natural spaces in one of the most densely populated areas in the world. The Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve (BWER) project will enhance and establish native coastal wetlands and upland habitat…

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Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: 3 critical lessons California offers to improve restoration of land on a global scale

California has lost more than 90% of its wetlands since the arrival of European settlers. Wetlands play an increasingly crucial role in absorbing excess water and protecting coastal and inland communities from flooding. They also provide critical habitat for wildlife, including a variety of species found nowhere else on Earth, some of which are at risk of blinking out of existence…. we’ve identified three critical lessons California has to offer the world to improve restoration on a global scale…
-Written by Julie Rentner, president of River Partners, and Manuel Oliva, CEO of Point Blue Conservation Science.

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Researchers exploring how San Diego County wetlands can be part of climate-saving strategies

Buried in San Diego County’s lagoons are centuries worth of carbon, cached in muddy stockpiles that scientists say could help combat climate change. Recently, scientists with the conservation organization Wildcoast and Scripps Institution of Oceanography started studying how much carbon coastal wetlands can capture, and how to restore these environments to boost that capacity.

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

In Trump administration’s final-days deregulatory push, Army Corps reduces stream protections

The Army Corps of Engineers finalized a rule on January 4 that further retracts federal protections for the nation’s smallest streams. The revisions to the nationwide permits, which authorize the filling and dredging of waterways, are one of a flurry of environmental deregulatory actions federal agencies are taking in the final days of the Trump administration, even though there is the possibility with a Democratic Congress that the Biden administration will reverse them.

Aquafornia news The Grunion

Authority certifies environmental report for Los Cerritos wetlands restoration

A study detailing environmental impacts of restoration efforts at the Los Cerritos Wetlands (LCW) was unanimously certified Thursday, Jan. 8, by the LCW Authority.

Aquafornia news Lexology

Blog: Santa Clara Valley Water District v. San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board

In a published opinion filed December 29, 2020, the First District Court of Appeal affirmed a judgment denying a petition for writ of mandate filed by the Santa Clara Valley Water District (District) challenging waste discharge requirements (WDRs) belatedly imposed by a responsible agency, the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board (Board), on lead agency District’s flood control project…. The case involved highly unique facts, and a number of interesting legal issues concerning the Board’s authority under the Federal Clean Water Act (CWA), the state Porter-Cologne Act, and CEQA.

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Aquafornia news Inside Climate News

Harnessing rice fields to resurrect California’s endangered salmon

California’s labyrinthine system of dams and levees cut off once roaring rivers from millions of acres of their floodplains, drastically reducing the habitat and food salmon need to thrive. Climate change may hasten extinctions by raising water temperatures and disrupting flows with bigger floods and more frequent and severe droughts, which also threaten to reignite conflicts over increasingly scarce water. But such dire prospects have inspired a novel alliance in one of the most productive agricultural valleys in the country, which has turned adversaries into allies to offer salmon and other threatened wildlife a lifeline.

Aquafornia news Vox

Why the American West is fighting for water protections

Since the Clean Water Act passed in 1972, the assumption has been that all waterways are protected from pollution… But the Trump administration has managed to successfully chip away at environmental protections in the US, including actions like 2020’s implementation of the Navigable Waters Protection Rule. The rule redefined which waterways are under the jurisdiction of and protected by the Clean Water Act, omitting many wetlands and non-perennial water sources, which means some areas of the country are impacted more than others. 

Aquafornia news City News Service Los Angeles

Petition against Ballona Wetlands project reaches 8,000+

A petition in opposition to a Ballona Wetlands restoration project approved by the state had more than 8,800 signatures as of Monday. Defend Ballona Wetlands, which plans on challenging the restoration in court, contends the project will harm animals living in the reserve, including endangered species and allege the state’s plan is motivated by bond money and private interests, including a Southern California Gas Co. gas storage facility under the wetlands.

Aquafornia news San Diego Union-Tribune

Lake Hodges water levels dry up prospects for grebes

For years, pairs of grebes would zoom across the water at Lake Hodges in a dazzling mating dance, and then build their nests on mats of dried brush suspended above the waterline. This year, some of the birds are still pairing up, but their nesting area near Interstate 15 no longer floods with seasonal rains, and can’t sustain them. The eastern finger of the lake, which long alternated between riparian woodland and seasonal ponds, is permanently drained because of state-ordered changes to the water level.

Aquafornia news Cox Castle & Nicholson

Blog: Court rules against California’s wetlands regulatory program

The Sacramento Superior Court delivered a serious blow to California’s regulatory program for the protection of wetlands and other waters of the State. The State’s wetland protection program (commonly known as the “Procedures”), which became effective in May, was intended to create a regulatory structure to fill the gap left by recent Trump administration regulations that dramatically narrowed Federal wetland protections.  Ironically, the court’s order prohibits the State of California from applying the Procedures to any waters other than those already protected by Federal law, thus leaving in place the very regulatory gap that the Procedures were intended to fill.

Aquafornia news Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Trump administration advances plan to increase San Luis Reservoir water storage

The Bureau of Reclamation sent Congress the final feasibility report for the B.F. Sisk Dam Raise and Reservoir Expansion Project. This marks an important step forward in returning water supply reliability to south-of-Delta farmers, local communities, and wildlife refuges.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Why disease is killing California’s wild ducks and shorebirds

A decade ago, a diverse coalition of tribes, farmers and conservationists hashed out water-sharing settlements that would have given the [Klamath basin] refuges a steady supply of water each year, and in the process stopped years of lawsuits, protests and acrimony. But Congress killed their efforts. Now the refuges — and Lower Klamath in particular — are at risk of drying up. And the fighting over water will only continue as the watershed grows increasingly dry from climate change.

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: California’s Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta – a short history of big changes

Deltas globally adjust with changes and fluctuations in external conditions, internal dynamics, and human management.  This is a short history of big changes to California’s Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta (Delta) in the past and present, and its anticipated future.  This history is important for understanding how many of the Delta’s problems have developed, changed, and continue to change.

Aquafornia news The Associated Press

State approves contentious Ballona Wetlands restoration plan

A plan to restore the largest coastal wetlands complex in Los Angeles County has received state approval as it advances through a lengthy process. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife said this week that it has certified the final environmental impact to restore the Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve.

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Picture this research – a photo blog from the Center for Watershed Sciences

Holidays are a natural time of introspection on who we are, what we do, and why. Towards a bit of our own self-reflection, some researchers from UC Davis’ Center for Watershed Sciences (CWS) have each contributed a photo and short description of their work. We hope you enjoy reading about us and learning even more about us. It is hopefully a soft bookend to a wild 2020!

Aquafornia news Audubon Magazine

A struggling California marsh gets an overhaul to prepare for rising seas

The sun shines meekly through a veil of morning fog and wildfire smoke while several figures in orange vests, hard hats, and face masks move slowly through a marsh on the north shore of San Francisco Bay. …It’s early October at the mouth of Sonoma Creek, where an unusual conservation project that broke ground five years ago is nearing the finish line. Audubon California and partner agencies are turning what was once a 400-acre stagnant backwater into a thriving wetland ecosystem that will serve as a refuge from rising seas for decades to come.

Aquafornia news Nature

Targeted wetland restoration could greatly reduce nitrogen pollution

The beneficial effects of wetlands on water quality are well documented, and wetlands are widely used both in urban and rural settings to remove pollution arising from human activities. The biogeochemical conditions in wetlands particularly favor the removal of nitrate, which is often the dominant form of nitrogen pollution in water.

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Aquafornia news Phys.org

Restoring wetlands near farms would dramatically reduce water pollution

Runoff from fertilizer and manure application in agricultural regions has led to high levels of nitrate in groundwater, rivers, and coastal areas. These high nitrate levels can threaten drinking water safety and also lead to problems with algal blooms and degradation of aquatic ecosystems. Previous research has shown that wetlands improve water quality, but how much of an impact are wetlands having on nitrate removal now, and what improvements could wetland restoration deliver in the future?

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Blog: Quest for water in the Kern River continues

The steady drumbeat of support to get more water flowing in the Kern River through Bakersfield continued Tuesday at the State Water Resources Control Board. During the public comment portion of the meeting three speakers from Bakersfield and Kern County’s political realm urged board members to finally hear — and grant — a decade-old petition by the City of Bakersfield to appropriate water on the river to run through the heart of town.

Aquafornia news Dredging Today

Supporting levee projects throughout Sacramento Valley

Working with Rep. Jerry McNerney, Rep. John Garamendi expedited completion of the Army Corps feasibility study for the San Francisco Bay to Stockton Navigation Improvement Project. This feasibility study examines deepening the John F. Baldwin and Stockton Deepwater Ship Channels from their existing depths of -35 feet mean lower low water to -40 feet and beneficially reusing dredged sediment for marsh restoration of subsided islands in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Advancing water supplies for Gray Lodge Wildlife Area

The Biggs-West Gridley Water District, Ducks Unlimited and the Bureau of Reclamation recently announced the completion of Phase II (of five total phases) of the water supply project for the world-renowned Gray Lodge Wildlife Area. 

Aquafornia news San Mateo Daily Journal

Feds, Cargill appeal Redwood City salt pond ruling

Seeking to overturn a federal district court determination that the Cargill salt ponds in Redwood City are covered by federal Clean Water Act protections, the Environmental Protection Agency under the Trump administration and Cargill Inc. representatives filed appeals to the ruling this week. 

Aquafornia news InsideClimate News

California farmers work to create a climate change buffer for migratory water birds

In the Central Valley, where agricultural and urban development have claimed 95 percent of the region’s historic wetlands, flooded croplands provide food and habitat that help egrets, sandhill cranes and other iconic water birds get through the winter. But many farmers are moving toward wine grapes, olives and other “permanent crops” that don’t provide the same habitat benefits as row crops. And now these land use changes, combined with the uncertain effects of a warming world, have left scientists scrambling to safeguard critical habitat in one of most important wintering regions for water birds in North America. 

Aquafornia news The Coast News Group

Oceanside advances plans for Loma Alta Wetlands project

With more than $500,000 in combined state and federal funding and the conceptual restoration planning for the Loma Alta Wetlands Enhancement Project complete, the project is one step closer to coming to fruition.

Aquafornia news KPBS

San Diego coastal marshes may become important tools to battle climate change

San Diego researchers and environmentalists are taking a close look at a pocket habitat that may become an important tool as the climate changes.

Aquafornia news Congressional Research Service

Report: Salton Sea restoration

The federal role in restoring the Salton Sea is limited to a handful of projects that address issues on lands in and around the sea that are managed by federal agencies, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Reclamation, Bureau of Land Management, and Department of Defense. Unlike in areas such as Lake Tahoe, the Everglades, and the Chesapeake Bay, the federal government does not have a comprehensive program to restore the Salton Sea.

Aquafornia news Daily Breeze

Torrance’s Madrona Marsh wins grants for restoration and education

Torrance’s Madrona Marsh Preserve and Nature Center will, by March, finally see the overdue restoration of its vernal pools, critically important wetland habitat home to numerous rare plants and animals, including two species of fairy shrimp, at a cost of about $470,000.

Aquafornia news Bureau of Reclamation

News Release: Reclamation, Biggs-West Gridley Water District and Ducks Unlimited complete major milestone in Gray Lodge Wildlife Area water supply project

The Bureau of Reclamation, Ducks Unlimited, Inc. and Biggs-West Gridley Water District completed the second phase of a five-phase construction project to improve water conveyance for the Gray Lodge Wildlife Area. This milestone includes increasing capacity of two major canals that feed water to the Gray Lodge Wildlife Area, home to more than a million waterfowl annually.

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Oceanside gets $175,000 for wetlands enhancement

Oceanside has been awarded a $175,000 federal grant for the final design of the Loma Alta Slough Wetlands Enhancement Project, which will restore about six acres with improved habitat, trails, informational signs and possibly a connection to the Coastal Rail Trail.

Aquafornia news Sierra Sun

Invasive species removal begins in Taylor Creek marsh

Crews began work this month in the marsh system of Taylor and Tallac creeks in the Southwest portion of the Tahoe Basin to remove aquatic invasive plants from an abundant and impacted marsh ecosystem, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency announced.

Aquafornia news High Country News

A little fish that’s mighty as a mountain

In early November, the Domestic Names Committee of the U.S. Board of Geographic Names voted unanimously to name a peak in Nevada’s Amargosa Valley, outside of Death Valley National Park, for the endangered Devils Hole and the Ash Meadows Amargosa pupfishes.

Aquafornia news The Sun-Gazette

Pixley National Wildlife Refuge: A wintertime treasure

While many people look towards the mountains for accessing beautiful nature, the San Joaquin Valley Floor is home to many amazing sights of nature and in particular, birds. Not only is Tulare County home to over 100 types of birds, it is part of the Pacific Flyway – one of the most important bird migration paths in the world.

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Trials evaluate alfalfa fields for groundwater recharge

Alfalfa is proving in University of California studies to be remarkably resilient when flooded with large amounts of water early in the year to refill ground depleted by deficit irrigation, or to recharge groundwater drawn down by pumping.

Aquafornia news KRCR TV

10 Humboldt fisheries restoration projects receive nearly $2.8 million in CDFW funding

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife announced Tuesday it’s awarding $10.7 million for fisheries habitat restoration program projects. Ten out of the 27 projects selected by the CDFW are in Humboldt County and will receive a total of nearly $2.7 million of the funding.

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Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Opinion: Tom Birmingham: Why restoring tidal marsh is good for SJ Valley farmers

Why would a public water agency that exists primarily to serve irrigation water to farmers on the west side of Fresno and Kings counties undertake an ecosystem restoration project in the Delta?

Aquafornia news San Joaquin Valley Sun

Westlands celebrates habitat restoration following third straight year of finding zero Delta Smelt

Westlands Water District announced Wednesday that it recently completed the Lower Yolo Restoration Project, which restored the habitat for fish and other wildlife species in part of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. … The land had been previously used for cattle grazing, and now it has transformed into tidal marsh, riparian and upland buffer habitat. 

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Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Rep. Ruiz introduces Salton Sea bill in Congress to provide funding

HR 8775, the Salton Sea Public Health and Environmental Protection Act, would create an interagency working group called the Salton Sea Management Council to coordinate projects around the lake’s receding shoreline.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

Federal water rule expected to stay murky through Biden term

A Biden administration won’t be able to untangle the legal and regulatory “mess” under part of the Clean Water Act that determines which streams, wetlands and other waters get federal protection, legal scholars and litigators say.

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Aquafornia news Ducks Unlimited

Blog: Riches to rags: The decline of the Klamath Basin refuges

How did two of the most important waterfowl refuges in the United States reach such a sad state? The decline of the Tule Lake and Lower Klamath refuges was a hundred years in the making. There are no villains here; rather it is simply a tale of too little water to go around on an arid landscape.

Aquafornia news GVWire.com

Zero Delta smelt found in latest search; new habitat hopes to change that

An annual search for a tiny endangered and contentious fish in the sprawling California Delta has once again come up empty. The state’s annual Fall Midwater Trawl found no Delta smelt in September’s sampling of the critical waterway. … Hoping to reverse the trend, Westlands Water District and the California Department of Water Resources announced completion of a Delta habitat restoration project on Wednesday.

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Aquafornia news UC Davis News

News release: Grazing and riparian restoration are compatible when you put in the work

Rangeland ecologists at the University of California, Davis, found that when ranchers invest even one week a year in practices that keep cows away from creeks — like herding, fencing and providing supplemental nutrition and water — they can improve riparian health by as much as 53 percent.

Aquafornia news Dredging Today

Malibu Creek project one step closer

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District and its partner, the California Department of Parks and Recreation, Angeles District, are one step closer on a project to restore Malibu Creek’s ecosystem after receiving support from the Corps’ top brass.

Aquafornia news Central Coast Public Radio

King tides project documenting a rising sea level future

“King tides are about one-to-two feet higher than an average tide, and it turns out that is about what we expect to see in California in the next few decades from sea level rise,” said Annie Cohut Frankel of the California Coastal Commission. “We invite the public to look at how these high tides are impacting our public beaches, our beach access ways, wetlands, roads and other coastal infrastructure.”

Aquafornia news Water Finance & Management

Senators propose level EPA funding for 2021, no WIFIA cuts

The U.S. EPA’s water infrastructure financing programs would be in line for approximately level funding next year under a plan for FY21 appropriations released by Senate Republicans last week. … The Republicans’ proposal would provide EPA with just under $9.1 billion next year, roughly in line with the agency’s FY20 appropriation.

Aquafornia news Patch.com

The battle over protecting Ballona Wetlands — and if they need it

For decades it’s been an environmental jewel wedged between the urban sprawl of Marina Del Rey and Playa Del Rey. But now the Ballona Wetlands State Ecological Reserve, home to diverse plant and animal wildlife, has become a battleground for conservationists and other activists.

Aquafornia news E&E News

How Biden could undo Trump’s water regulations

The incoming Biden administration is widely expected to undo President Trump’s regulatory rollbacks on a range of water rules including stream and wetland protections, drinking water contamination, and the permitting of controversial energy and flood projects.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Costa Mesa’s Fairview Park Wetlands, once seen as a boon, is bogged down by deficiencies

Reported deficiencies in the design and construction of the water delivery system have resulted in poor water circulation that has caused algae to overbloom, while cattails and duckweed are growing like wildfire along pond shores, creating conditions ripe for mosquitoes. Fairview Park administrator Cynthia D’Agosta said maintenance costs have ballooned far beyond the annual $40,000 anticipated at the outset of the work.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Bernhardt order gives states veto authority over Land and Water Conservation Fund

A new order from Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, published Friday afternoon, would, among other things, essentially give state and local jurisdictions veto power over how communities spend and match grants through the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which funds access to recreation in states and federal land acquisitions.

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Aquafornia news KYMA News

Restoration projects at the Salton Sea

Restoration projects are finally coming to the Salton Sea and New River. Nearly $47 million dollars have been secured in California’s state budget for the next year to begin mitigation efforts at the Salton Sea and the New River.

Aquafornia news Politico

Friday Top of the Scroll: How California will shape U.S. environmental policy under Biden

“Probably water allocation and climate change would be the two big pivots and increased opportunity for collaboration between California and the federal government after 4 years of conflicts and really outright warfare,” said Rick Frank, a former California chief deputy attorney general. He is now a professor at UC Davis law school.

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

Overlooked Army Corps rulemaking would shrink federal stream protections

The Army Corps of Engineers … is considering another rule change that would also shrink federal protection of small streams, ecologists and lawyers say. The Corps said in its proposal it is acting in response to the president’s order to review regulations that burden energy development. Some of the proposed changes will have essentially the same consequence as the Trump administration’s contraction of the Clean Water Act…

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Aquafornia news Fairfield Daily Republic

Seasonal wetlands ‘best success story’ of repurposing rice straw

Burning rice straw after harvest was a traditional and economical practice that was phased out in 2000. … The side effect is it has created millions of acres of seasonal wetlands in the rice-growing region of the state – and with a variety of conservation contracts, provided additional income for growers whose costs rose when straw burning was prohibited.

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Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

Trump leaves unfinished business in environmental litigation

Clarity on which wetlands and waterways count as “waters of the U.S.” or WOTUS, subject to federal oversight, has been elusive for years. … Trump officials’ narrow definition … is facing lawsuits in a half-dozen federal courts. New litigation is guaranteed if Biden officials attempt to revert to the Obama-era rule or craft their own program.

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Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

Blog: DWR certifies final EIR for Delta’s largest tidal habitat restoration project

The Department of Water Resources has moved one step closer to starting the Delta’s largest multi-benefit tidal restoration and flood improvement project… Lookout Slough is in unincorporated Solano County, near the border of Yolo County. It is adjacent to additional tidal restoration efforts, including Yolo Flyway Farms and Lower Yolo Ranch, to create a contiguous wetland restoration complex spanning 16,000 acres in the Cache Slough region of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

Aquafornia news Santa Clara Valley Water News

Blog: Valley Water builds a new wetland and restores Llagas Creek

A former quarry in south Santa Clara County will be humming with fish and wildlife in the coming months as birds, frogs, turtles and a variety of other species benefit from a newly created wetland habitat and a restored Llagas Creek.

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Aquafornia news AgAlert

Rice fields provide crucial refuge for migrating birds

As a rice farmer in Yolo County, Kim Gallagher should be used to the sight of thousands of birds swarming her flooded fields this time of year—but when she sees a flock take off, scattering the sky with a confetti of fluttering wings, her enjoyment is clear.

Aquafornia news Fairfield Daily Republic

Agency approves 2 new Measure AA projects for Solano region

The Suisun Resource Conservation District has been awarded $454,624 for the first phase of the Suisun Marsh Fish Screen Rehabilitation Project. … American Canyon in July received a $450,000 Measure AA grant for the American Canyon Wetland Restoration Plan.

Aquafornia news Fairfield Daily Republic

SF estuary flows into restored marsh for first time since 1800s

The first phase of a highly touted tidal marsh recovery plan was completed this week when a levee was breached and the restored marsh area was reconnected to the San Francisco Bay estuary for the first time since the late 1800s. The first phase of the Montezuma Wetlands Restored Tidal Marsh Project was completed Tuesday.

Aquafornia news Capitol Weekly

Opinion: Fight climate change, preserve nature in one stroke

The Protecting America’s Wilderness Act (H.R. 2546) would protect and restore over one million acres of public lands and well over 500 miles of rivers throughout the state, including in Northwest California’s wild lands and along the Central Coast.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

World’s fish scientists appeal for action to reduce greenhouse gases

In their statement, the scientists laid out the grim picture that has emerged from thousands of peer-reviewed studies: Climate change is inflicting extensive harm to aquatic ecosystems, both in freshwater and the oceans. The degradation of these ecosystems, which are among the most threatened on Earth, is accelerating.

Aquafornia news Spectrum 1 News

Environmental groups torn over fight for Ballona Wetlands

Many who oppose the restoration project say it includes a plan to install new infrastructure adjacent to the wetlands. “The last thing we need when we are in a crisis of climate change is to build new fossil fuel infrastructure,” said representatives for The Sierra Club Ballona Wetlands Restoration Committee. And who is investing in fossil fuel use? SoCalGas owns a natural gas facility adjacent to the wetlands.

Aquafornia news Audubon California

Salton Sea project receives $700k for restoration of Bombay Beach wetland

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has awarded a grant of $700,000 to Audubon California towards the stabilization, restoration and enhancement of wetlands near the town of Bombay Beach, on the Salton Sea.

Aquafornia news Woodland Daily Democrat

Collaboration between rice farmers and environmentalists working out nicely

When driving over the Yolo Bypass in the winter, one can’t help but notice the flooded fields. … Historically, the area used to be wetlands and floodplain habitat, but now, farmers grow rice there. After harvest, the fields are flooded to not only help decompose the leftover rice straw but also, as a surprise to many, recreate a surrogate habitat for many area wildlife, most notably birds.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Army Corps banks on wetland data EPA deemed ‘unreliable’

When the Trump administration finalized a key water rule last year, EPA said it considers current federal wetlands inventory data unreliable. The Army Corps of Engineers apparently didn’t get the memo.

Aquafornia news Heal the Bay

Blog: Changes are coming to the L.A. River

After the river was concretized, Indigenous People, activists, and environmental organizations demanded the restoration of the L.A. River and its tributaries back into a functioning natural river ecosystem. Now with the climate crisis, we can no longer afford to have a concretized river system that solely provides flood control.

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

What has the Trump administration meant for water?

The desire for crystal clean water is one that the president repeats frequently, even dating to his 2016 presidential campaign. Immaculate water, he has also said. Clear water. Beautiful water. But the focus on appearances is superficial, according to a number of water advocates and analysts. Revisions to environmental rules that the administration has pursued during the first term of the Trump presidency will be detrimental to the nation’s waters, they said.

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Aquafornia news UC Rangelands

Blog: Riparian conservation in grazed landscapes

In the absence of appropriate management, excessive livestock damage can occur in sensitive habitats such as riparian areas that provide drinking water, forage, and microclimates sought by free-ranging livestock. … Fortunately, conservation-grazing management strategies can reduce the likelihood of livestock damage to riparian areas.

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Aquafornia news The Beach Reporter

Report gives California an ‘A’ grade for coastal protection

Most states are doing a mediocre job – and some even a poor one – of managing shorelines and preparing for sea-level rise, according to a new study by the Surfrider Foundation. California, on the other hand, is a “shining example” and has excelled in responding to changes along the coast, earning the only “A” grade in the nation — but the report found there are still areas that need improvement…

Aquafornia news East Bay Times

Officials update Oakley council on creek flooding concerns

Contra Costa County Flood Control Division officials told the Oakley City Council recently that they’re still assessing the issues of concern caused by beavers that built a dam in an area of Marsh Creek near Creekside Park earlier this year. At the time, the city and county received a lot of backlash from the community and beyond because the county’s answer to the problem was to kill two beavers that built the dam.

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Farmers look to plant more rice acreage in the Delta

Now in its second year, a long-term project intends to learn whether rice farming in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta can succeed economically while helping to preserve the region’s uniquely carbon-rich peat soils.

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Novato bayside levee project nears completion

Working over the last year, construction crews expect to complete a new 2-mile levee near Novato in the coming weeks. It will allow bay waters to eventually reclaim nearly 1,600 acres, or about 2.5 square miles, of former tidal marshes that had been diked and drained for agriculture and development during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Environmentalists win key battle over Mission Bay Park redevelopment, get $1.25M for marshland study

Local environmentalists won a key victory this week when the regional water board approved a $1.25 million study focused on transforming much of Mission Bay’s northeast corner into marshland, which could help San Diego fight sea level rise.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Groundwater: The charge to recharge needs to be data driven

In the world of groundwater recharge, not all dirt is created equal. Where, when, how much and how fast water can best be recharged into the Central Valley’s severely depleted aquifers has become a critical question. A new tool aims to help answer those questions at the field-by-field level or up to an entire county.

Aquafornia news Long Beach Press Telegram

Huntington Beach wetlands continue to expand, following decades of degradation

The coastal wetlands of Orange and Los Angeles counties, once scorned for the obstacles they posed to the construction of roads and buildings, have been squeezed by development to less than 10% of their 19th-century size. But recently approved funding for improvements at two Huntington Beach preserves offer evidence of a growing recognition of the beneficial role they play for man, flora and fauna alike.

Aquafornia news The Hill

Opinion: Crystal clean water? Not if Trump can help it

For most of the past 48 years, the Clean Water Act produced dramatic improvements in the quality of our nation’s rivers, lakes and coastal waters. … Unfortunately, the Trump administration’s unrelenting rollback of clean water protections is stalling progress toward fixing these problems and endangering a half-century’s worth of gains.  

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Opinion: We need to rethink our San Diego coast to deal with sea level rise before it’s too late

The solutions are not just about spending money, but changing how we do coastal development — fewer expensive seawalls and roads, and more “living shorelines” and coastal parks that can temporarily flood.

Aquafornia news E&E News

FEMA ends policy favoring flood walls over green protections

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has taken a dramatic step to encourage communities to use environmentally friendly features such as wetlands for flood protection instead of building sea walls and levees.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Mary Nichols may be EPA’s next boss. Here’s her vision

California Air Resources Board Chair Mary Nichols yesterday outlined her vision for EPA over the next four years. And it starts with science.

Tour Nick Gray Jennifer Bowles Liz McAllister

Bay-Delta Tour 2020: Encore Event
A Virtual Journey - November 10

Join us as we guide you on a virtual journey deep into California’s most crucial water and ecological resource – the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The 720,000-acre network of islands and canals support the state’s two major water systems – the State Water Project and the Central Valley Project. The Delta and the connecting San Francisco Bay form the largest freshwater tidal estuary of its kind on the West coast.

Aquafornia news Tahoe Daily Tribune

Citizen science drives restoration, preservation in Tahoe-Truckee

Volunteer citizen scientists working with the League to Save Lake Tahoe conducted surveys of Donner and Spooner lakes to detect aquatic invasive species, and restored native wetland habitat in Johnson Meadow in September. Both efforts are aimed at preserving the Tahoe-Truckee region’s unique ecology.

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: Serving multiple benefits along the Sacramento River: A look at fall operations

As we have transitioned from summer to fall in the Sacramento Valley, we are finishing the agronomic season and there is now a focus on fall and winter operations on the Sacramento River. Water resources managers and fish and wildlife agencies continue to work together in the Sacramento River watershed to serve water for multiple benefits, including two salmon runs and the essential time for birds (and other species) migrating along the Pacific Flyway.

Aquafornia news Utility Dive

California’s Salton Sea offers chance for US battery supply chain, despite financial, policy challenges

Developing a lithium industry in California’s Salton Sea, an area that experts think could supply more than a third of lithium demand in the world today, could help set up a multi-billion dollar domestic supply chain for electric vehicle batteries, according to a new report from New Energy Nexus.

Aquafornia news The Current

Blog: Fall River – The gem of California’s natural springs

Naturally when I say, “cold water,” what comes to mind are lakes, rivers, wetlands, delta, estuaries and even reservoirs. These are the areas that I spend the most time fishing, boating, swimming, rafting etc. However, our natural cold-water resources include a few lesser-known components that are just as important to the entire operating system.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Redwood City salt ponds subject to environmental protections, judge rules

A federal judge ruled Monday that a sprawling collage of salt ponds in Redwood City is subject to protection under the Clean Water Act — going against a previous decision by the Environmental Protection Agency that would have eased development along the bay.

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Aquafornia news Bay Nature

How Measure AA funds are restoring the bay

Assessments of the worst-case scenario predict the Bay may rise a damaging 1.9 feet by 2050 and as much as nearly 7 feet by 2100. Restoring even a fraction of the Bay’s lost wetlands would provide long-lasting benefits.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Gavin Newsom greenlights commission on Salton Sea lithium extraction

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday added his signature to a new law that orders the formation of a commission to study the feasibility of lithium extraction around the Salton Sea. Local politicians hope the commission will lead to the creation of a green economy around the state’s largest lake, which is a geothermal hotspot. It was one of several bills focused on California’s environment that Newsom dealt with this week.

Aquafornia news Arizona Public Media

After Clean Water Act change, uncertainty reigns over water protections

In June, the Trump administration’s new version of which waters are protected under the Clean Water Act took effect. The new rule is an about-face from the Obama-era regulations, and Arizona state regulators are trying to make sense of it.

Aquafornia news Bay Nature

Restoring a watershed for wildlife at Marsh Creek

Called the Three Creeks Parkway Restoration, the $9 million project will yield two acres of floodplain and a canopy of riparian trees set in nearly 4.5 acres of grassland and oak woodland. Construction began in May and is scheduled for completion at the end of the year…

Aquafornia news San Francisco Estuary Magazine

Makeover for Delta weed patch & salt trap?

The collaborative design process for the Franks Tract Futures project brought initially skeptical local stakeholders on board and is being hailed as a model for future initiatives. Yet major uncertainties remain as interested parties explore the challenges of implementing a complex redesign of a big chunk of the Delta.

Aquafornia news UC Davis News

Natural capital a missing piece in climate policy

Clean air, clean water and a functioning ecosystem are considered priceless. Yet the economic value of nature remains elusive in cost-benefit analysis of climate policy regulations and greenhouse-gas-reduction efforts. A study published Monday in the journal Nature Sustainability incorporates those insights from sustainability science into a classic model of climate change costs.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Audio: How fish interact with wetland topography

In this podcast, reporter Alastair Bland and UC Davis PhD student and fish researcher David Ayers discuss the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, its fish, its marshlands, its flows, and its future.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Students kayak the Salton Sea to raise awareness about lake’s plight

Three Coachella Valley high schoolers kayaked across the Salton Sea Saturday to raise awareness about the social and ecological crisis unfolding as California’s largest lake continues to shrink and toxic dust from its shores pollutes the air.

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Aquafornia news Audubon

Blog: When it comes to droughts, the costs of climate change are too high for both birds and people

Although droughts may not garner as much attention as acute extreme events like hurricanes, floods or fires, their multidimensional effects are vast. … A multi-year drought in California has seen the number of breeding waterfowl dip 46% below average as wetlands shrink and dry up.

Aquafornia news Alameda Sun

Alameda to seek wetland park funding

The proposed ecological wetland park at Alameda Point, known as DePave Park, is another step closer to becoming a reality. On Sept. 15, four members of the city council gave thumbs up to moving forward with seeking a $2 million grant to pay for a master planning process.

Aquafornia news E&E News

How the loss of Ginsburg will affect the term ahead

The absence of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court this coming term is unlikely to change the outcome of two looming battles over water rights and Endangered Species Act records, but legal experts say her death will have a lasting impact on environmental jurisprudence at the nation’s highest bench.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Senate Dems push resolution against Trump WOTUS rule

Senate Democrats unveiled a resolution today calling on EPA to maintain and strengthen the Clean Water Act, a direct rebuke of the Trump administration’s regulatory rollbacks.

Aquafornia news National Geographic

How beavers became North America’s best firefighters

A new study concludes that, by building dams, forming ponds, and digging canals, beavers irrigate vast stream corridors and create fireproof refuges in which plants and animals can shelter. In some cases, the rodents’ engineering can even stop fire in its tracks.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Estuary Magazine

Nursing salmon on flooded farms

In 2012 a team of salmon researchers tried a wild idea: putting pinky-sized Chinook on a rice field in the Yolo Bypass, a vast engineered floodplain designed to protect the city of Sacramento from inundation. … Now, after nearly a decade of testing fish in fields, a new paper in San Francisco Estuary and Watershed Science outlines lessons learned as well as next steps in managing floodplains for salmon.

Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

Blog: Why floodplains are important for California salmon

Floodplains were the historic rearing areas for juvenile salmon, and the remaining floodplains in California are an important food-rich habitat as present-day salmon grow and attempt to survive their trip out to the ocean. We sat down with Hailey Wright, a Department of Water Resources environmental scientist, to discuss the salmon lifecycle and her work designing and implementing projects in the Yolo Bypass…

Aquafornia news E&E News

House panel to probe toxic wasteland in California lake

A House committee will meet Thursday to discuss the deteriorating public health crisis at the Salton Sea.

Aquafornia news High Country News

Killing the Vegas pipeline — Nevada’s attitude toward water is changing

Over the years, these groups united against a single cause: the Southern Nevada Water Authority’s “Groundwater Development Project,” a proposal to pump 58 billion gallons of water a year 300 miles to Las Vegas from the remote rural valleys of Nevada and Utah. … In May, their three decades of resistance to the pipeline ended in victory: The project was terminated.

Aquafornia news New Times San Luis Obispo

Conservation groups complete Chorro Creek restoration project, benefiting the Morro Bay watershed

For years, a stretch of Chorro Creek near Hollister Peak ran through active farmland, where its flow was diverted for irrigation and its banks were shored up by levees, blocking the water’s natural access to its floodplain. … After nearly two decades of planning and fundraising, the Estuary Program and its partners recently completed a major restoration of the site.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Trump WOTUS rewrite could backfire, lawmakers warned

A top water regulator from New Mexico yesterday warned senators that hardrock mines, wastewater facilities and other industrial entities could face stricter environmental oversight as the Trump administration’s Waters of the U.S., or WOTUS, rule takes effect.

Aquafornia news Voice of Orange County

Conservationists split over Poseidon desal project’s potential to help Bolsa Chica Wetlands

Along a Huntington Beach coastline dotted with oil rigs and a power plant, one of California’s largest remaining saltwater marshes has been a source of pride for local environmentalists. But the marsh, known as the Bolsa Chica Wetlands, is endangered despite a years-long struggle to pull together sufficient public funding for its upkeep.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: A greater sense of urgency needed for crises at the Salton Sea

Responding to the lack of progress in 2017, the State Water Resources Control Board ordered the California Natural Resources Agency to adopt a 10-year plan to implement projects to suppress the harmful dust and restore habitat. … But in the three years since the water board’s order, progress has been dismal, even though there is more than $350 million available to implement the plan.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Senate committee takes up Trump’s WOTUS rewrite

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will hear Wednesday from an Iowa farmer, a Florida developer and a New Mexico regulator, who are expected to discuss the Trump administration’s Waters of the U.S. rule and weigh in on the environmental and public health issues raised by rolling back water protections.

Aquafornia news Audubon

A disease outbreak in California has killed an estimated 40,000 birds

As wildfires burn across California, temperatures hit record highs, and communities cope with the COVID-19 crisis, biologist Caroline Brady is helping respond to a different disaster: the worst avian botulism outbreak that anyone can remember at the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

Companies eager to ‘lock in’ Trump-era water rule exemptions

Coal miners, stone quarrying companies, and other businesses are rushing to lock down any exemptions to federal water jurisdiction for at least five years, under changes the Trump administration recently made to the nation’s water rule. … A decision that might in some instances have taken multiple site visits and nearly three years now can come as quickly as a day, the data show.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Delta Independent Science Board: 10 years on

At the August meeting of the Delta Independent Science Board, the new members joined with the outgoing members for reflections and discussion to bring the new members up to speed on the Delta ISB’s ongoing work.

Aquafornia news KJZZ Radio

Colorado River flow now part of caddisfly battle in Bullhead City

The idea was to lower the flows while temperatures were still warm enough to dry out the caddis larvae. That required buy-in from local merchants and the Bureau of Reclamation, local tribes and others. They were able to do it, and on Aug. 27, the first of two flow reductions took place. When the river dropped, people pitched in for a day of river cleanup.

Aquafornia news Forbes

Blog: Climate change may bring unexpected benefits to San Francisco Bay-Delta

The San Francisco Bay-Delta is literally threatened from all sides: rising sea levels from the ocean, disruptions to sediment supply from upstream, and within the Bay-Delta itself, development and other land use changes have left only a tiny fraction (5%) of marshland untouched. … A recent study by scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey used historical streamflow and sediment data to predict what will happen to the Bay-Delta under varying levels of climate change.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Have an idea to fix the Salton Sea? The state wants your input this month

The California Natural Resources Agency announced it will be hosting a new round of public engagement sessions in September to get input to assist in the development of wildlife habitat restoration and dust suppression projects for the Salton Sea Management Program’s 10-year plan.

Aquafornia news Palo Alto Online

With Baylands under flood threat, Palo Alto explores projects to address sea level rise

If current predictions hold, the entire Palo Alto Baylands could be submerged by the middle of the century because of sea level rise, a destructive predicament that would threaten both the sensitive habitat and the critical infrastructure in the nature preserve. To prepare for rising tides, the city is moving ahead with the creation of a new Sea Level Adaptation Plan…

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

Judge considers freezing ‘political’ environmental review rule

A federal judge took a no-nonsense approach Friday to a hearing on the White House’s rewrite of the National Environmental Policy Act, grilling conservation groups on how they’ll be harmed and chiding the Justice Department for glossing over the political motivations behind the rules.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: New approach needed to protect health of California’s rivers

Dams, diversions, and land conversion have substantially altered California’s rivers and disrupted the processes that sustain ecosystem health. The result is a crisis for native fish and wildlife and the loss of many benefits we derive from river ecosystems.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

EcoRestore update: Five years in, program makes big gains on Delta habitat restoration

California EcoRestore is an initiative started in 2015 under the Brown Administration with the ambitious goal of advancing at least 30,000 acres of critical habitat restoration in the Delta and Suisun Marsh by 2020. … At the August meeting of the Central Valley Flood Protection Board, Bill Harrell, gave an update on the Eco Restore program and the progress that has been made over the past five years.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Judge says owner of Suisun Bay island broke law

The owner of a Suisun Bay island violated the federal Clean Water Act when he destroyed marshland by building a levee and dumping dredged material while building duck-hunting ponds, a federal judge ruled Wednesday. The ruling is the latest in a years-long battle between regulators and John Sweeney, who owns an island in Suisun Bay, a tidal channel and marsh area northeast of San Francisco.

Aquafornia news Alameda Sun

Wetlands project moves forward

On Aug. 7, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers awarded a service contract to Adanta, Inc. of Napa to expand and enhance an existing wetlands on the Veterans Affairs (VA) property at Alameda Point. The wetlands project is being implemented to offset impacts to wetlands areas elsewhere on the VA property where a health clinic, offices and a columbarium cemetery will be built.

Aquafornia news California Natural Resources Agency

News release: Community input sought for habitat restoration and dust suppression projects at Salton Sea

The California Natural Resources Agency has released a draft project description for the Salton Sea Management Program Phase I and announced a series of virtual public workshops for community input. The project description identifies habitat restoration and dust suppression projects to revitalize the environment and protect public health.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Drilling, mines, other projects hastened by Trump order

The Trump administration is seeking to fast track environmental reviews of dozens of major energy and infrastructure projects during the COVID-19 pandemic… Projects targeted for quick review include highway improvements in South Carolina, Georgia, Florida and other states; the Lake Powell water pipeline in Utah; wind farms in New Mexico and off the Massachusetts coast; and mining projects in Nevada, Idaho, Colorado and Alaska.

Aquafornia news Water is a Many Splendor’ed Thing

Audio: A historian’s view of the Delta

Waters of the Delta are in the midst of a tug-of-war. If California is not careful, the largest inland delta on the western coast of the North American continent will be damaged. Water is a Many Splendor’ed Thing brings you another water relationship that has a personally significant impact to your life.

Aquafornia news Western Farm Press

Habitat funds available for Calif. rice farmers

California rice growers wishing to participate in a state-funded program to flood their fields for winter wildlife habitat have until Sept. 14 to submit their requests to the state. Growers who qualify this year will receive $15 per acre to flood their rice fields.

Aquafornia news E&E News

BLM plans first California auction in 7 years

The Bureau of Land Management will revive its oil and gas leasing program in California later this year, following a seven-year moratorium sparked by a fracking fight.

Aquafornia news The Hill

Green groups fight EPA rollback limiting states from blocking projects

The Clean Water Act previously allowed states to halt projects that risk hurting their water quality, but that power was scaled back by the EPA in June, a move Administrator Andrew Wheeler said would “curb abuses of the Clean Water Act that have held our nation’s energy infrastructure projects hostage.” The latest suit argues the Trump administration is inappropriately denying states veto power over major projects that pose risks to their waterways.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Despite COVID-19, natural resources should remain important to Legislature

As if a global pandemic was not enough, the tumultuous legislative session comes to a close as much of the state is on fire. Understandably, lawmakers had already significantly pared down their legislative packages to focus on a response to COVID-19. And, then last week many important bills on environmental justice and natural resources stalled.

Aquafornia news Klamath Falls Herald & News

Project water deliveries help reduce botulism outbreaks

While the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex deals with one of its biggest botulism outbreaks in recent history, emergency water deliveries from the Klamath Project have prevented the situation from worsening. The waterborne bacterial illness, which causes paralysis and often leads to death, has impacted more than 15 percent of the molting birds currently on Tule Lake’s main sump.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Faster track for ecosystem restoration

California’s rivers and aquatic species are in trouble, but restoration projects often get bogged down by lengthy permitting processes. Sustainable Conservation has been at the forefront of finding ways to speed up badly needed restoration projects with improved permitting. We talked to Erika Lovejoy—director of Sustainable Conservation’s Accelerating Restoration program…

Aquafornia news Klamath Falls Herald & News

Wildlife refuges battle devastating botulism outbreak, worsened by water shortages

Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge’s main open body of water, Sump 1A, had been exceptionally low for weeks. The hot sun baked the shallow water during the day, and warmer nighttime temperatures ensured it stayed hot. Dormant bacteria awakened on the lake’s fringe wetlands, carrying with them a paralyzing and potentially fatal toxin. Beneath the cover of smoke began the refuge’s worst botulism outbreak in years.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Clean Water Act: Biden would face slog to ditch Trump’s WOTUS

If Democrat Joe Biden wants to scrap the Trump administration’s definition of which waters qualify for federal protection, experts say he’ll face a heavy legal lift, lengthy rulemaking, and an onslaught of opposition from industry, ranching and agricultural interests.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

California still hasn’t found analyst to study Salton Sea water import proposals

Long-term fixes for the ever-shrinking Salton Sea remain stalled as California Natural Resources Agency officials on Wednesday revealed they have been unable to find an analyst to study proposed solutions to a nearly two decades-old problem.

Aquafornia news Marysville Appeal-Democrat

Proposals for California Winter Rice Habitat Incentive Program being accepted

With up to $4,058,220 available, the program provides economic incentives to landowners or lessees who agree to manage their properties in accordance with a management plan developed through a consultation with biologists from California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Comprehensive Wetland Habitat Program for a two-year period.

Aquafornia news UCLA

Study: Tiny endangered shrimp may get big hand from environmental DNA testing

The San Diego fairy shrimp, a miniscule, puddle-dwelling crustacean that provides food for migrating birds, is nearing extinction as humans continue to encroach on its wetlands habitat. But a new approach to tracking the shrimp’s population numbers may give conservationists a boost in protecting the species

Aquafornia news Phys.org

Q&A: Global methane emissions soaring, but how much was due to wetlands?

Last month, an international team of scientists, including Berkeley Lab’s William Riley and Qing Zhu, published an update on the global methane budget as part of the Global Carbon Project. … They built one of the computer models that allows scientists to quantify these methane emissions from wetlands at global scale.

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: Fish surveys in the estuary: The whole is greater than the sum of its parts

The San Francisco Estuary is a dynamic and altered estuary that supports a high diversity of fishes, both native and non-native. … Since the 1950s, various agencies and UC Davis have established long-term surveys to track the status of fish populations. These surveys help scientists understand how fishes are responding to natural- and human-caused changes to the Estuary.

Aquafornia news Napa Valley Register

Sanitation District harvests Napa’s sewage sludge for fertilizer

The dredging is taking place in a vast sewage treatment pond. And the material being removed is biosolids, which is another way of saying sewage sludge. About 3,500 tons of biosolids will be piped from the pond this summer to be dewatered. It is ultimately trucked a short distance and spread over a NapaSan field where a farmer grows sorghum.

Aquafornia news East Bay Times

Old aircraft taxiway in Alameda to be converted to wetlands park

A stretch of concrete and asphalt that was once an aircraft taxiway will be removed so the site along San Francisco Bay can be converted to a wetlands park, according to a proposal the city is considering.

Aquafornia news Science

Opinion: Distorting science, putting water at risk

The Navigable Waters Protection Rule … has redefined “waters of the U.S.” (WOTUS) to restrict federal protection of vulnerable waters. … Responding to this unprecedented distortion of science and rollback in water protections, which went into effect nationwide on 22 June, will require coordinated efforts among scientists, lawmakers, and resource managers.

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Aquafornia news Earthjustice

Blog: Is the water all right?

Like other environmental regulations, WOTUS was necessarily complex and grounded in science. But the reason for it was simple: keep U.S. waters clean. So what could be so bad about a law to stop water pollution that the Trump administration would decide to repeal it?

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Santa Clara Valley Water District seeks $682 million parcel tax

After years marked by a historic statewide drought and devastating floods around downtown San Jose, Santa Clara County’s largest water provider has decided to ask voters to approve a parcel tax to pay for a wide variety of projects, from flood control to creek restoration, along with some costs of rebuilding the county’s largest dam at Anderson Reservoir.

Aquafornia news The Guardian

‘This land is all we have left’: Tribes on edge over giant dam proposal near Grand Canyon

If built, it would … pump groundwater into four new reservoirs … Tribal members and environmentalists say the project would flood several miles of canyons sacred to the Navajo; risk damaging cultural sites for several tribes; draw vast amounts of critical groundwater; potentially harm habitats for plants and animals, including some endangered species; and risk adverse effects for waterways leading into the Grand Canyon.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Former chiefs say ‘derailed’ EPA needs a reset after election

Six former Environmental Protection Agency chiefs  [who served under Republican and Democratic presidents] are calling for an agency reset after President Trump’s regulation-removing, industry-minded first term, backing a detailed plan by former EPA staffers that ranges from renouncing political influence in regulation to boosting climate-friendly electric vehicles.

Aquafornia news KCET

Groups challenge restoration plan for Ballona Wetlands

A group dedicated to protecting the Ballona Wetlands is among the plaintiffs in a lawsuit alleging millions of dollars in public funds have been misused for what they claim is a “deceptive” plan to bulldoze the ecological reserve under the guise of being a restoration effort.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Judge rejects conservative challenge to Trump WOTUS rule

A conservative legal challenge to President Trump’s definition of what waterways qualify for Clean Water Act protections was rejected Thursday by a federal judge.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

Pipeline plan could mean fewer stream protections, critics say

Under the Aug. 3 proposal, companies would no longer be required to notify the Army Corps if the pipelines they lay require clearing of forested wetlands, or building access roads longer than 500 feet with fill material dredged from streams or wetlands or with impervious materials.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

Federal court dismisses Trump water rule challenge in Oregon

The Oregon Cattlemen’s Association sued the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in May for bringing non-navigable, small streams and wetlands under Clean Water Act protection in the Navigable Waters Protection Rule. Judge Michael W. Mosman, ruling from the bench on a preliminary injunction sought against the water rule, dismissed the claims without prejudice.

Aquafornia news California Rangeland Trust

News release: Groundbreaking research into working landscapes

The study, conducted by the University of California, Berkeley, examined 306,718 acres of California Rangeland Trust’s conservation easements across the state to explore both the environmental and monetary value of preserving California’s open spaces.

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Aquafornia news Bay Area Monitor

Where’s the dirt? Scientists surveying sediment in salt marshes

When Brenda Goeden first started working on mud, silt, and sand in the San Francisco Bay two decades ago, dredgers and contractors couldn’t get rid of all the sediment they excavated fast enough. … But today sediment is a hot commodity, as restorationists and developers scramble to elevate salt marshes and building sites before rising tides claim them. Now, a new plan is in the works to optimize allocation of this critical resource.

Aquafornia news The Hill

Latest Trump proposal on endangered species could limit future habitat, critics say

When species are endangered, the Endangered Species Act requires the government to set aside habitat deemed critical for its recovery. But environmental groups say the new definition being proposed by the Fish and Wildlife Service will allow the agency to block setting aside any land that isn’t currently habitat but might be needed in the future, particularly as the climate changes.

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Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Marin judge rejects bid to halt San Geronimo creek work

A Marin County Superior Court judge rejected a petition filed by a group of San Geronimo residents and golfers to halt creek restoration work in the former San Geronimo Golf Course. The ten residents and golfers, known as the San Geronimo Heritage Alliance, filed the lawsuit in July alleging the creek restoration work is illegal.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Lawsuit challenges Trump’s overhaul of environmental-review law

A legal battle with far-reaching consequences for industry and ecosystems kicked off Wednesday with the filing of a federal lawsuit over the Trump administration’s revamp of a longstanding law that requires extensive environmental reviews for road, industry and building projects.

Aquafornia news Ingrained

Audio: Giants in the rice fields

Nearly 230 wildlife species depend on Sacramento Valley rice fields for food and a resting place, including the giant gartersnake, a threatened species. Although it has “giant” in its name, this creature is, at most, five-feet long. These snakes are heavily dependent on rice fields for their survival; having lost most of their earlier habitat – traditional wetlands…

Aquafornia news National Law Review

Council on Environmental Quality issues NEPA regulation rule

On July 16, 2020, the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) published its highly anticipated final rule to improve its National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) regulations. The update, which largely mirrors the proposed rule, is the first comprehensive amendment to the regulations since their original publication in 1978.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Klamath water arrives, saving 50,000 ducklings from certain death

More than 50,000 ducklings and other newborn waterfowl and shorebirds were saved from certain deaths this week after an emergency delivery of water to the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

EPA must focus on environmental justice, Inspector General says

The issue is new to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Inspector General’s periodic list of top management challenges facing the agency, underscoring its emergence as a leading national concern. The OIG called on the agency to strengthen its federal leadership role, continue to build an environmental justice strategic plan, and consider the impact of “all activities on environmental justice communities in actions revoked and taken by the agency as a whole.”

Aquafornia news Metropolitan Water District of Southern California

Blog: An early success story in the Delta

A century ago, the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta was a massive wetland habitat. The construction of levees over the past 100 years has dried out these wetlands and converted them into farmland, eliminating 95 percent of this important aquatic habitat for fish. But scientists are finding out that given the right conditions, nature can reclaim itself.

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Spring rains revealed fairy shrimp at Escondido preserve

Despite their brief existence … the pools, and the fairy shrimp they harbor are an important feature of the new preserve. The conservancy acquired Mountain Meadow Preserve, on hilltops off of Interstate 15, about two years ago. At that time, the 693-acre site was a deserted orchard, dotted with dilapidated agricultural sheds and withered avocado groves.

Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

Blog: DWR environmental scientist Veronica Wunderlich discusses her work with reptiles and amphibians

Veronica Wunderlich is a Department of Water Resources senior environmental scientist with a focus in herpetology – the study of reptiles and amphibians. Below, Veronica discusses how she got started in herpetology –she even had snakes as pets as a kid, her current work, and how to translate a passion and interest in wildlife into a career – “If you really love the creatures you work with, you will never regret working with them.”

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: 21 state attorneys general sue over new Trump water rule

Attorneys general in 20 states [including California] and the District of Columbia sued the Trump administration on Tuesday, alleging that new federal rules undermine their ability to protect rivers, lakes and streams within their borders. They say that new final rules issued last week by the Environmental Protection Agency alter a practice dating back more than 30 years giving state governments the authority to review, block or put conditions on federally permitted water projects.

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Long Criticized For Inaction At Salton Sea, California Says It’s All-In On Effort To Preserve State’s Largest Lake
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: Dust suppression, habitat are key elements in long-term plan to aid sea, whose ills have been a sore point in Colorado River management

The Salton Sea is a major nesting, wintering and stopover site for about 400 bird species. Out of sight and out of mind to most people, the Salton Sea in California’s far southeast corner has challenged policymakers and local agencies alike to save the desert lake from becoming a fetid, hyper-saline water body inhospitable to wildlife and surrounded by clouds of choking dust.

The sea’s problems stretch beyond its boundaries in Imperial and Riverside counties and threaten to undermine multistate management of the Colorado River. A 2019 Drought Contingency Plan for the Lower Colorado River Basin was briefly stalled when the Imperial Irrigation District, holding the river’s largest water allocation, balked at participating in the plan because, the district said, it ignored the problems of the Salton Sea.  

Aquafornia news Rep. John Garamendi

News release: Garamendi secures wins for Delta and Central Valley in Water Resources Development Act

“I secured provisions in this bill to authorize and expedite construction of flood protection and aquatic ecosystem restoration projects, address harmful algal blooms in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, and give local agencies greater flexibility in using federal Army Corps funds to meet local needs.”

Aquafornia news Santa Clara Valley Water News

Blog: Are there plans to fill more of Valley Water’s percolation ponds in Santa Clara County this summer?

As more people enjoy local trails this summer, they may notice many of Valley Water’s percolation ponds in Santa Clara County are empty and dry. There’s no reason to be alarmed. In fact, the absence of water in many of the 100 percolation ponds owned by Valley Water is a sign that our underground water basins are mostly full and healthy.

Aquafornia news KESQ News

The state budget includes $47 million for the Salton Sea. Here’s how it will be spent

California’s state budget includes $47 million to help the Salton Sea. The new budget was signed by Governor Newsom last month. … News Channel 3’s Madison Weil spoke with Phil Rosentrater, the executive director of the Salton Sea Authority, to see how the new funds will be used. 

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

EPA challenged on limiting state veto power under water act

The EPA is facing two separate challenges from environmental groups over its water rule that narrows the ability of states to veto energy infrastructure projects such as oil and gas pipelines if they adversely affect water quality.

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Aquafornia news The Hill

350 facilities skip reporting water pollution under temporary EPA rule

A total of 352 facilities, including fossil fuel companies, water treatment plants and schools, made use of the EPA’s relaxation of Clean Water Act requirements, according to a list the agency shared with The Hill. … Environmentalists are raising alarms over the number of facilities that aren’t monitoring their pollution levels, saying the damage could last well beyond the Aug. 31 expiration date of the temporary policy.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Threatened frog species released into California forest after successful breeding program

A group of wildlife biologists in Northern California took another step in the conservation effort of the threatened Foothill yellow-legged frogs on June 30, releasing 115 of the frogs into the Feather River in Plumas National Forest. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the release marks the first release of captive-reared, Foothill yellow-legged frogs into the wild.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

Opinion: NEPA suspension, infrastructure bill put wetlands at risk

Rollbacks of the Clean Water Act and the executive order to suspend the National Environmental Policy Act are meant to save costs and cut red tape. However, Jeremy Schewe, professional wetland scientist, explains these efforts will ultimately lead to far greater expense to business, society, and the planet, especially when combined with the House proposed infrastructure stimulus package.

Aquafornia news Pacific Institute

Report: Incorporating Multiple Benefits into Water Projects: A Guide for Water Managers

Adapting to climate change, coupled with the need to address aging infrastructure, population growth, and degraded ecosystems, requires significant investment in natural and built water systems. These investments present a significant opportunity to support not only water, but to provide economic, social, and environmental benefits.

Aquafornia news Office of the Attorney General

News release: Attorney General Becerra criticizes Trump order instructing federal agencies to circumvent critical environmental review processes

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh, and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey today led a multistate coalition in expressing opposition to President Trump’s recently signed executive order instructing federal agencies to use emergency authority to bypass critical environmental review and permitting processes for infrastructure projects.

Aquafornia news Earth.com

Restoration projects bring mountain meadows back to life

Degraded meadows and their streams can be rehabilitated using a “pond and plug” technique to restore the floodplain function. This strategy aims to elevate groundwater levels in the dry season by spreading large flows across the floodplain. The pond and plug treatment improves water quality, soil moisture, and wetland vegetation – improvements that are extremely beneficial to birds and other wildlife.

Aquafornia news The Hill

Lawsuit challenges Trump administration waterway protection rollback

The Environmental Protection Agency has again been sued over its rollback of Obama-era waterway protections. On Thursday, the Environmental Integrity Project, on behalf of four other environmental groups, sued the agency, claiming that the new rule conflicts with the Clean Water Act and “disregards” science “without any rational, let alone ‘reasonable,’ explanation.”

Aquafornia news The Press

Franks Tract project sponsors seek input

The project — managed jointly by California Division of Fish and Wildlife, the Department of Water Resources and the Department of Parks and Recreation — seeks to make changes in Franks Tract with the goal of improving water quality, providing enhanced recreational opportunities and improving the ecology for the benefit of native and desirable wildlife.

Aquafornia news Earth Island Journal

How protecting birds can save Western rivers

The American Southwest provides a last stronghold for the yellow-billed cuckoo, which was officially listed under the Endangered Species Act as threatened in 2014. This February, the US Fish and Wildlife Service published a list of proposed protected areas that trace the curls and curves of rivers and streams in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Texas, and Utah.

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Aquafornia news Associated Press

Thursday Top of the Scroll: California cities: Monsanto settlement to fund water cleanup

Major California cities say they’ll use their share of a $650 million settlement to clean up the now-banned chemical PCB from bays, lakes and other waterways polluted for decades. The giant chemical company Monsanto announced a tentative agreement Wednesday with government entities that had filed suit since 2015 over waterways and estuaries they say were polluted.

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Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Tribes, environmentalists sue to stop rollback of Clean Water Act protections

A coalition of tribal governments, environmentalists and labor advocates has sued to stop implementation of a new federal rule that weakens protections for streams and wetlands. The Environmental Protection Agency’s new Navigable Waters Protection Rule, which which took effect on Monday, rolls back clean-water regulation of intermittent waterways, arroyos and washes.

Aquafornia news Estuary Magazine

Sinking islands capture carbon credits

Encouraged by a recently vetted new method for creating carbon offsets from wetlands, a flurry of new climate adaptation projects on publicly owned islands strewn along the central Delta corridor aim to defend against sea-level rise, restore habitat, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Filling Trump void, California steps in to protect birds, wetlands

California officials have parried federal moves with actions of their own — a state law enshrining protection for migratory birds and a new state regulation setting definitions that expand protection to smaller wetlands and seasonal waterways. California’s responses are yet another maneuver in the feud between Sacramento and Washington, D.C.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

Trump water rule halted in Colo., can take effect elsewhere

A federal Judge in California on Friday rejected a request for a nationwide injunction of the rule. Hours later, a federal Judge in Colorado agreed to freeze the federal rule within that state. The California court’s decision is a major blow to environmentalists and states that had hoped to block the Navigable Waters Protection Rule across the country before it takes effect Monday.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Friday Top of the Scroll: California and EPA tussle over water quality protections

U.S. District Court Judge Richard Seeborg presided over a lengthy and combative hearing that featured attorneys from the state of California making the case that the Trump-era EPA acted contrary to its fundamental mission when it exempted ephemeral streams and wetlands from protections afforded by the Clean Water Act.

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Aquafornia news Lake County News

Lake County Land Trust completes acquisition of Wright wetland property

A smidge over 200 acres, the Wright Wetland Preserve is easily the largest in the trust’s portfolio. Its terrain ranges from lake to valley oak woodland with everything from native wetland, freshwater marsh and upland pasture included. The property is partially bordered by Manning Creek, an important breeding ground for an endemic and threatened fish species, the Clear Lake hitch.

Aquafornia news Santa Clara Valley Water News

Blog: Palo Alto Tide Gates, which prevent flooding in low-lying areas on Peninsula, to be replaced

Driving on Highway 101 from the South Bay, up the Peninsula, commuters zoom by nearly invisible infrastructure keeping the highway and nearby communities dry. Beyond the highway, at the edge of the San Francisco Bay, are levees and tide gates protecting roads and neighborhoods against high tides and storm flooding. Unless you visit the bay lands to walk the levee trails, you might never know these important structures exist.

Aquafornia news Public News Service

Californias estuaries go virtual this summer

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way families, educators and students can experience state parks — through expanded online programs. … Education coordinator Anne Marie Tipton says the Tijuana River National Estuarine Reserve’s virtual field trips teach classrooms around the state about the estuary’s role in the environment.

Aquafornia news The Nevada Independent

Environmentalists see regulatory, funding gaps amid Clean Water Act rollback

Although the Clean Water Act will still protect heavily used waterways in Nevada, including the Colorado River and the Truckee River, it excludes many wetlands and most seasonal streams. As a result, the rule has set off a flurry of legal challenges from environmental groups. And in recent months, several Democrat-led Western states, including Colorado, California and New Mexico, have sued the Trump administration to challenge the final rule. Nevada has not joined those suits.

Aquafornia news FishBio

Blog: High-tech glimpse of restored wetlands

San Francisco Bay is the largest estuary on the West Coast, and in recent years much effort has been put into restoring tidal marsh habitat in the Bay. … FISHBIO was recently invited to tour one such project in the North Bay, where we had the opportunity to use our ARIS sonar camera to examine the fish community in the restored area.

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