The Bay Area Creek Mouth Assessment Tool
|Sponsoring Agency||San Francisco Estuary Partnership|
|Subregions||('North Bay', 'East Bay', 'South Bay', 'West Bay')|
|Counties||Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francsico, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano, Sonoma|
|Watershed Tributary||San Francisco Bay|
|Public or private land?||('Public', 'Private')|
|Location (lat/lon)||37.84557924966549, -122.38838195800781|
|Location Description||San Francisco Bay's most significant creeks. Approximately 85 creeks. This project does not include the Delta.|
Create a user-friendly online tool designed to provide information about creek mouth restoration opportunities and constraints around the San Francisco Bay.
Create an online interactive tool to analyze opportunities and constraints for creek mouth restoration projects in the Bay Area. The Bay Area Creek Mouth Assessment Tool is based on extensive data collected and collated for the Creek Mouth Inventory and Assessment Project by the San Francisco Estuary Partnership and the San Francisco Estuary Institute. The tool will provide the means for agencies, organizations and the interested public to prioritize restoration projects on a regional or local level based on various criteria and objectives. The tool will also provide the context and database structure for other projects studying the Bay shoreline and its resilience to sea level rise.
Part 2 - Detail
The interface between tributaries and the Bay is one of the most ecologically important components of the Bay system. Historically, these were the Bay's natural deltas; places of high ecological diversity and complexity. Then, as now, they were critically important as reliable rearing habitat for juvenile steelhead. These locations play a disproportionately important role in the sustenance of the Bay's tidal marshlands, as the delivery points for watershed carbon and sediment. In addition, these areas are critical for flood management and face increasingly high flood risk because of climate change and the predicted increases in storm intensity, tidal surge and sea level. Restoring creek mouths to enhance or increase historical tidal and fluvial functions, can increase critical habitat for birds, wildlife and aquatic organisms and can while also reducing flood risk both along the shoreline and farther upstream.
In 2012, the San Francisco Estuary Partnership and the San Francisco Estuary Institute undertook a comprehensive regional inventory and assessment of creek mouths around the Bay. Once complete (in 2013), this inventory and assessment will advance the Bay Area's ability to better integrate riparian, tidal and subtidal restoration efforts for multiple benefits, including increasing ecological value and reducing human health and hazard risks from flooding. Building on the completed inventory, the Bay Area Creek Mouth Assessment Tool would provide an online interactive public interface for accessing the narrative and geospatial data collected for creeks around the San Francisco Bay. Providing access to the data in a user-friendly online interface allows agencies, organizations and others in the Bay Area to better understand the regional opportunities for creek mouth restoration and prioritize limited funding. Furthermore, providing important data on the present and historical ecology, hydrology and land use in and adjacent to the creek mouths will support and advance ongoing and proposed restoration and flood protection projects.
The Bay Area Creek Mouth Assessment Tool would provide access to both regional and local scale data on creek mouths.
At a the regional scale (the Bay Area) the Tool would include data on:
- Physical characteristics of the creek mouth: length, width, physical barriers
- Presence of invasive plants (Spartina)
- Presence (historic or current) of steelhead
- Local interested parties (“Friends of” groups, etc.)
- Contamination history
- Public/private land ownership profile
At the local, creek mouth, scale, the Tool would deploy precise geospatial layers, including:
- Adjacent restoration project boundaries
- Public/private land boundaries
- Public land ownership
- Levees- Historical Ecology data
The Bay Area Creek Mouth Assessment Tool project would, where feasible and appropriate, integrate with other user tools such as SFEI’s Ecoatlas, the San Francisco Bay Joint Venture Tracker, and the Conservation Lands Network. The Tool will not duplicate other efforts, but will offer unique functionality. Opportunities to collaborate with regional and local partners to share data and develop compatible user interfaces will be pursued, and a strategy for collaborative and integrated data collection and management will be included in the project.
Creek mouths are transition zones where the defined channel meets the open water pelagic zone of the estuary, thus creating a unique ecotone. As sea levels rise, the creek mouths become vulnerable to increased flooding impacting low lying communities, drowning of marshland, and an upstream migration of head of tide, causing flooding upstream.
Prioritizing restoration opportunities is a fundamental step to increasing the resilience of the Bay shoreline, minimizing future flooding impacts, and planning for the long term health of the Bay’s marshes, creeks and communities.
i. Water Supply (conservation, recycled water, groundwater recharge, surface storage, etc.)
ii. Water Quality
One of the many ecosystem services that marshes provide is filtering runoff from the upstream creeks and urban areas, thus cleaning water before it runs into the Bay. The Tool will lead to additional creek mouth restoration projects that will improve water quality of the Bay.
iii. Flood and Stormwater Management
Prioritizing creek mouth restoration of marshes can have multiple benefits, and impact decisions made by flood control districts, stormwater managers and resource conservation districts.
-protection from tidal flooding,
-filtering and buffering of fluvial flooding
-stormwater wetlands to detain water
Through an augmentation of restoration projects in the fluvial/tidal interface areas, the Bay Area Creek Mouth Assessment Tool will enhance flood and stormwater management.
iv. Resource Stewardship (watershed management, habitat protection and restoration, recreation, open space, etc.)
This project would provide guidance for strategic resource stewardship by prioritizing restoration using metrics such as presence of endangered species, public land and public access, and presence of a watershed stewardship group.
This project also fits into the goals of several resource agencies and non-profits working on bayland restoration and sea level rise. By creating a regional and public data center, efforts of data collection can be streamlined.
-enhance ecosystem services or beneficial uses
The benefits of the project will be measured by the delivery of critical data to those charged with selecting and implementing creek mouth restoration projects. The tool will promote informed decision-making about restoration opportunities and constraints and facilitate multi-benefit habitat restoration and flood management projects. Over time, the resulting projects that are selected and implemented with the assistance of the Creek Mouth Assessment Tool will deliver the specific benefits listed above.