SFSU Public Affairs Press ReleasePublished by the Public Affairs Office at San Francisco State University, Diag Center.
SAN FRANCISCO, CA-The San Francisco Bay Delta region is on its way to becoming the state's third federally designated National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR), thanks to San Francisco State University scientists from the Romberg Tiburon Center for Environmental Studies. They join the ranks of other California State University faculty who successfully championed California's existing two NERR sites.
To complete the designation process, the Center hired Dr. Todd Hopkins, a fisheries ecologist experienced in creating regional partnerships between local, state and federal organizations. During the next 18 months, Hopkins will develop a draft management plan for the reserve and work with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to finalize the designation.
The National Estuarine Research Reserve system is a network of protected areas established by the federal government to improve the health of the nation's estuaries and coastal habitats by promoting informed resource management.
"San Francisco Bay is one of the largest and most complex estuaries in the nation. The federal designation of a National Estuarine Research Reserve in San Francisco Bay would aid in further understanding of this tremendous ecosystem," says Laurie McGilvray, acting chief of NOAA's Estuarine Reserves Division. "We are pleased that the Romberg Tiburon Center has hired Dr. Hopkins to help bring San Francisco Bay into the nation's reserve system."
As a partnership between coastal states and NOAA, each reserve is operated in conjunction with local communities and regional groups. There are currently 25 reserves in the United States, totaling over one million acres of estuarine waters and lands. NERR designation does not affect state laws governing recreation or commercial-use of these public lands. Instead, it brings with it staff, funding and resources that, together with local and state partners, will be directed toward restoring degraded habita ts, managing resources and raising public awareness and stewardship of the natural areas that fall within the reserve. NERR research fellows and scientific partners, including RTC, will monitor water quality, study the effects of pollution and invasive species on the estuary, and evaluate ecosystem restoration projects, among other things.
According to RTC Director Dr. Alissa Arp, The NERR headquarters will be located at the Center. Partners of the proposed reserve include China Camp State Park in Marin County, Browns Island of the East Bay Regional Park system, and Rush Ranch of the Solano County Farmlands and Open Space Foundation in Suisun Bay.
"The NERR program will help us use science to direct the management of the Bay, which is highly urbanized," says Hopkins, an Oakland native who developed a successful management plan for a Florida NERR site and who also conducts research on the effects of resource management and restoration projects on coastal organisms and their habitats.
"This will be a truly collaborative program," says Arp. "The SF Bay NERR, with Todd's experience and leadership, will encompass a variety of state agencies and nonprofit organizations. The research and education components of the program will enhance our ability to communicate scientific findings and insights about the region to policy makers and the general public, all of whom ultimately determine the Bay's future."
Dr. James Kelley, dean of SFSU's College of Science and Engineering, says the University's involvement is appropriate. "Not only do we have the only academic marine research center on the Bay, we're also carrying on a California State University tradition."
In 1979, faculty from the Moss Landing Marine Laboratories - a consortium of seven CSU campuses led by San Jose State University - were instrumental in establishing the Elkhorn Slough NERR, located in Monterey County; and faculty from San Diego State University spearheaded the development of the Tijuana River Estuary, located in San Diego County, which was officially designated in 1982.
The mission of the Romberg Tiburon Center for Environmental Studies is to explore and explain the scientific processes essential for a sustainable future. RTC scientists conduct research and teach students about coastal and estuarine environments, with particular focus on San Francisco Bay. Established in 1978, RTC is as an off-campus facility of San Francisco State.
For more information on RTC, please visit the Center's website at: www.rtc.sfsu.edu. For information on the NERR system, go to: www.ocrm.nos.noa.gov/nerr.
SFSU, 1600 Holloway Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94132
Last modified April 24, 2007, by Office of Public Affairs