Magazine Features

Perspective:

As drought parches California, obliterates its snowpack, and reduces rivers to trickles, a familiar feud over water has resurfaced. Farmers want more of it to irrigate their crops, while fishermen and environmentalists want more left in rivers to protect the state’s Chinook salmon. Mainstream news outlets often portray the struggle as one between two groups ravaged by environmental whims and climate change. However, this interpretation weaves a false equivalence through...

Ancient River Channels Could Speed Groundwater Recharge

By the time California finally began regulating groundwater use in 2014, most of the San Joaquin Valley was in critical overdraft. The Public Policy Institute of California estimates that groundwater pumping in the region has exceeded replenishment by an average of 1.8 million acre-feet per year over the last few decades. This imbalance was even worse during our last drought, when overuse shot up to 2.4 million acre-feet per year....

Three Ways to Feed the Marsh

Seal Beach is drowning. As a result of sea-level rise, subsidence, and limited sediment supply, much of the 920-acre National Wildlife Refuge in Orange County can no longer keep its head above water. Pacific cordgrass, normally exposed at low tides, is being completely inundated. Rare nesting habitat for the endangered light-footed clapper rail is disappearing at high tides. It’s a marsh manager’s worst nightmare, and a potential harbinger of things...

Cooking Food in a Sacramento Shipping Channel?

The learned doctors attending the bedside of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta agree on one thing: the patient is not doing well. What ails it, many students of the case suggest, is dehydration: the perennial artificial drought induced by withdrawals of water for human use, whether pulled from feeder rivers or extracted from the Delta itself. The obvious prescription — that society moderate its demands — is politically very hard...

The Coast Whisperer

Sam Schuchat, outgoing chief of the California State Coastal Conservancy, is perhaps one of the most dapper state officials I’ve ever met. He often wears an elegant hat with a brim and band, no Giants bill cap or REI wooly for the leader of a powerful state agency, one that has done more to ensure that the coast is accessible to all Californians than any other. Of course, Schuchat would...

Little Mud, Lotta Work

For decades, patches of Creekside Marsh at Hal Brown Park in Corte Madera lay barren. “There wasn’t a single thing growing,” says Sandy Guldman, 80, a recently retired environmental consultant who is also president of the nonprofit group Friends of Corte Madera Creek Watershed. “The soil was all old fill.” Many of the bare patches are now covered with planted and volunteer pickleweed, saltgrass, marsh baccharis, and more. The remainder...
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Pearls in the ocean of information that our reporters didn’t want you to miss

Scientists are finding it increasingly difficult to predict how ecosystems will respond to sudden and rapid changes such as extreme droughts, wildfires, and flooding.

Writing in the June 2021 issue of San Francisco Estuary & Watershed Science, a group led by environmental economist Richard Norgaard note that due to the increasing pace of ecological change associated with a warming world, models derived using past data are less able to provide reliable predictions, particularly as extreme events create conditions outside historic...

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ESTUARY News is the 25-year-old regional magazine of the San Francisco Estuary Partnership and its myriad partners around the Bay and Delta. Written by professional, independent journalists, it provides in-depth, silo-crossing coverage of the environmental, restoration, and climate adaptation issues of our time, and tells the stories behind the 2016 Estuary Blueprint.

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