Janet Byron
About the author

Janet Byron is an independent journalist and editor specializing in science, the environment, and health care. She is co-author of Berkeley Walks (Heyday Books, 2nd ed., 2018), self-guided neighborhood walking tours in America’s most intriguing city, and she currently serves as president of the Berkeley Path Wanderers Association. From 1999 to 2013, she was managing editor of California Agriculture, the peer-reviewed journal published by the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Articles by Janet Byron

Lookout Slough Restoration will be the Delta’s Largest Yet

When the restoration of Lookout Slough is complete, Lookout Slough will be no more. Created to provide water for a century-old duck-hunting club, the human-made canal will be filled in as part of a $119 million, 3,400-acre tidal wetlands restoration, the largest ever in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. “Drought and climate change have elevated the importance of these types of multi-benefit projects,” said Karla Nemeth, director of the California Department of Water Resources, when the project broke ground last June. “This project will reduce flood risk for communities in the Central Valley and create much-needed habitat for Delta smelt and other endangered and threatened fish species.” By their expected completion in late 2024, the new tidal wetlands will replace former...
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Wetland Restoration is for the Birds

It’s high tide at Eden Landing Ecological Reserve, on San Francisco Bay due west of Union City, and Nathan Van Schmidt is counting birds on Pond E9 with both hands. Van Schmidt, science director for the San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory, has a clicker in his right hand to track American Avocet, and another in his left for Northern Shoveler. “Wetlands can support an incredible biomass of birds,” he says. “And Eden Landing is one of the birdiest places in the Bay.” The Observatory, a local nonprofit bird conservation organization, helps the South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project to monitor how birds are doing on 82 managed ponds and restored tidal wetlands. This pond, with water levels maintained at about...
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Baldocchi at the end of one of the levees breached to restore tidal action at Dutch Slough. Photo: Janet Byron

Sniffing the Delta for Greenhouse Gases

Dutch Slough in Oakley, on the southern edge of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, is less than a mile from where biometeorologist Dennis D. Baldocchi (above) grew up on his parents’ orchard and fished with pals in nearby Marsh Creek. In October 2021, the California Department of Water Resources breached the levees here, restoring nutrient-rich tidal flows to degraded ranchland. Early in the 20th century, Baldocchi’s father grew dry beans and sugar beets on the peat soils of the Delta’s Liberty Island, and his aunt’s family raised asparagus, sugar beets, and corn on Sherman Island. In 1952, his dad started growing almonds and walnuts at the junction of Sellers Avenue and Cypress Road in Oakley. “My family mined the Delta for...
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