Government agencies with authority for managing the estuary lack sufficient information about subtidal habitats in the bay to inform planning decisions. Although a tremendous amount of scientific information is available from research and monitoring in the bay, little of it is useful in making decisions about specific proposals for development or restoration as it relates to subtidal habitat. Part of the reason for this shortfall is that subtidal habitats are usually invisible in the bay's turbid waters, and most sampling methods cannot provide detailed information about the location and condition of the various habitats. Equally important is the need to learn more about the functions of these habitats, how they respond to environmental change, and how to protect and enhance them.
This report describes six subtidal habitat types with maps showing their known current distributions, and analyzes present-day threats to those habitats. It presents recommendations for addressing those stressors, for advancing scientific research and understanding, and for protecting and restoring subtidal habitat within the constraints and challenges of an urbanized estuary, and of incomplete knowledge. It also describes some of the pioneering efforts that have taken place to restore subtidal habitat in the bay.
Neither a policy nor regulatory document, this report offers guidance on opportunities for subtidal restoration and protection. Implementation will occur through a number of avenues: local governments may incorporate these recommendations into their planning processes and documents, non-profits may use them when seeking funding for restoration or management projects, and researchers may wish to refer to the report when setting priorities for research. Regulatory agencies may use this report to evaluate, revise, or implement their policies.
To implement the goals, consistent and enduring support will be needed from a wide variety of stakeholders yet may be difficult to secure, given political changes, staff turnover, budget fluctuations, and shifts in priorities. Successful implementation of the goals will require an entity or entities charged with raising funds and overseeing the realization of the goals in this document and the process of adaptive management necessary to realize the ecosystem benefits envisioned by this program.
The San Francisco Bay regulatory, agency, and environmental communities have an impressive record of taking bold and innovative actions to protect estuarine habitats and encourage public involvement. Making the goals set forth in this report a reality will take similar bold, sustained, and innovative efforts. The goals offer measurable objectives and actions that when implemented, will improve San Francisco Bay subtidal habitats. We hope you will join us in embracing the principles and recommendations included in this plan and look forward to working with a diverse group of stakeholders on implementing the goals.