There are a number of efforts in the Bay Area to restore the wetlands and salt marshes surrounding the bay. The first passage describes some of the causes and effects of the loss of wetlands. The newspaper article below discusses some recent attempts to restore the Bay Area wetlands.
Changes in the quantity, timing, and quality of fresh water flowing into the Delta and Bay, as a result of diversion via pumps within the Delta, is implicated in declines of fish species both because of physical removal of young fish by the pumps as well as habitat changes resulting from changing flow patterns and salinity distributions. . . .
Source: United States Geological Survey‚— San Francisco Bay and Delta http://sfbay.wr.usgs.gov/access/yearbook.html
The bay also is the site of the most ambitious wetland restoration program in the country. Through a confederation of federal and state agencies and private groups, tens of thousands of acres of salt ponds and drained farmland in the south and north bays are being restored to salt marsh, freshwater marsh and wild uplands.
But the estuary is still beleaguered, a fact that's measured in its fisheries, or lack of them. Delta smelt, a small, native brackish-water fish that inhabits the upper reaches of the bay and the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, is at all-time lows. This is significant because the smelt is considered the prime indicator for the estuary's biological health.
"Actually, the entire complex of bay and delta fish species is suffering, " said Tina Swanson, the senior scientist for the Bay Institute in Novato.
Factors for the decline include agricultural chemicals from the Central Valley, runoff from urban streets and invasive nonnative species, Swanson said. But reduced freshwater inflow may be the biggest problem, she said.
During the Clinton years, Swanson noted, less Sacramento River water was diverted for Central Valley agriculture and Southern California cities. Instead, it was sent down the delta and bay. This was accomplished through the passage of the 1992 Central Valley Improvement Act and the creation of CalFed, a joint state and federal agency empowered to divide the water among agricultural, urban and environmental interests.
The extra water flushed juvenile fish past the destructive diversion pumps in the delta and created a large, biologically rich brackish zone that sustained plankton, fish and crustaceans.
But under the Bush administration, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which controls the tap on Shasta and Folsom Dams, implemented new rules for allocating bay and delta flows.
The amount of water going through the estuary was reduced, and the amount of water pumped south was increased. The result, Swanson said, is collapsing fisheries in the bay and delta.
Bureau of Reclamation spokesman Jeff McCracken acknowledged the bureau is pumping more water south than it did in the late 1990s but said the agency was honoring its environmental obligations.
"We are meeting standards set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service, " he said.
Source: Martin, Glen. “Despite strides, Bay Area has mixed record on freshwater Pollution reduction, Hetch Hetchy delivery offset by invasive species, runoff from streets.” June 1, 2005. http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2005/06/01/MNGHQD1INN1.DTL. ¬©2005 San Francisco Chronicle.
1. How has the estuary been modified?
2. What have been the results of these changes?
3. Explain how federal policies have affected wetlands restoration projects in the Bay Area.