The day I began editing a monolithic overview of Santa Clara County’s Coyote Watershed I received a gift from my handler. He’d just thrown me for a loop by suggesting we describe not just Coyote Creek’s vast extent and myriad One Water management issues, but also its six sub-watersheds. I asked him to summarize the differences. Rather than composing a detailed memo, or searching water district literature for the materials, he logged into Bay Area Greenprint. Within hours I had six super-organized mini-reports offering maps and metrics on each creekshed. At a glance, I could see acreages, land uses, habitat extent, presence of endangered species, food production, groundwater recharge, wetland and river quality, trails, flood risk, and even climate change threats. Comparing reports gave me a quick lay-of-the-land in terms of priorities and constraints for planning and management. I imagine this kind of high-level, integrated, regional screening would also help anyone trying to make the case for a multi-benefit project. Kudos to The Nature Conservancy, Greenbelt Alliance, American Farmland Trust, Bay Area Open Space Council and GreenInfo Network for this smoothly crafted time saver. To read about another more urban version of smart-project screening, check out LA Drainage Goes Native in the June issue of ESTUARY News. ARO

A new Bay Area screening tool helps me wrap my brain around a TMI project.

The day I began editing a monolithic overview of Santa Clara County’s Coyote Watershed I received a gift from my handler. He’d just thrown me for a loop by suggesting we describe not just Coyote Creek’s vast extent and myriad One Water management issues, but also its six sub-watersheds. I asked him to summarize the differences. Rather than composing a detailed memo, or searching water district literature for the materials, he logged into Bay Area Greenprint. Within hours I had six super-organized mini-reports offering maps and metrics on each creekshed. At a glance, I could see acreages, land uses, habitat extent, presence of endangered species, food production, groundwater recharge, wetland and river quality, trails, flood risk, and even climate change threats. Comparing reports gave me a quick lay-of-the-land in terms of priorities and constraints for planning and management. I imagine this kind of high-level, integrated, regional screening would also help anyone trying to make the case for a multi-benefit project. Kudos to The Nature Conservancy, Greenbelt Alliance, American Farmland Trust, Bay Area Open Space Council and GreenInfo Network for this smoothly crafted time saver. To read about another more urban version of smart-project screening, check out LA Drainage Goes Native in the June issue of ESTUARY News. ARO

About the author

Ariel Rubissow Okamoto is both today’s editor-in-chief and the founding editor of ESTUARY magazine (1992-2001). She enjoys writing in-depth, silo-crossing stories about water, restoration, and science. She’s a co-author of a Natural History of San Francisco Bay (UC Press 2011), frequent contributor of climate change stories to Bay Nature magazine, and occasional essayist for publications like the San Francisco Chronicle (see her Portfolio here). In other lives, she has been a vintner, soccer mom, and waitress. She lives in San Francisco close to the Bay with her architect husband Paul Okamoto.

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