Collaborative, Interagency Approach to Protect the Hidden Bay

The San Francisco Bay Subtidal Habitat Goals Project is a collaboration among the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC), California Ocean Protection Council (OPC)/California State Coastal Conservancy (SCC), NOAA Habitat Conservation, NOAA Restoration Center, and the San Francisco Estuary Partnership (SFEP). Lead staff from those agencies worked with the broader scientific community, managers, restoration practitioners, and stakeholders over several years to develop the goals set forth in this document. (Download subtidal_committee list.)

Subtidal habitat includes all of the submerged area beneath the bay water’s surface: mud, shell, sand, rocks, artificial structures, shellfish beds, submerged aquatic vegetation, macroalgal beds, and the water column above the bay bottom. Submerged areas make up the dominant habitat in the bay--more than 250,000 acres--and include endless mudflats and shoals, rocky islands, beds of bright green eelgrass, undulating sand waves, native oyster beds, seaweed beds, all below the lowest tide line. These areas are important for threatened species such as green sturgeon and Chinook salmon, commercial species like Dungeness crab and Pacific herring, and a host of other fish, shrimp, crabs, migratory waterfowl, and marine mammals.

The Goals Project was inspired by the 1999 Baylands Ecosystem Habitat Goals report, which set a bold vision for restoring 100,000 acres of wetlands and related habitats around the bay that have resulted in 13,000 acres of newly restored habitat, with an additional 40,000 acres acquired and in various stages of restoration planning. The Subtidal Goals Project also takes a bay-wide approach in setting science-based goals for maintaining a healthy, productive, and resilient ecosystem. Where possible, these subtidal goals are designed to connect with intertidal habitats and with goals developed by other projects, including goals for baylands and uplands habitats. Unlike in the Baylands Goals effort, however, historical information about subtidal habitat is lacking. Thus the goals set forth in this document do not attempt to restore the bay to historic conditions but are designed to improve the condition of the subtidal ecosystem. The baseline for the project is 2010, and the planning horizon is 50 years.

All photos and illustrations not in the public domain have been used by permission of the copyright holders. To obtain permission to use an image shown on this site, please contact the credited entity (credits list).

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