Brenna Mahoney Rudd: Collaborations in wetland restoration

Fellow Name: Brenna Mahoney Rudd
Fellow Type: California Sea Grant State Fellow
Year(s) of Fellowship: 2015
Host Agency: California Coastal Conservancy

One of the highlights of my California State Sea Grant Fellowship with the California State Coastal Conservancy has been to work on the Baylands Ecosystem Habitat Goals Science Update published in October 2015, after nearly four years of significant collaborative work.

Baylands mapThe Baylands Goals cover habitats in San Francisco, San Pablo and Suisun Bays. This report, written by over 200 scientists and resource managers is an update to the 1999 Baylands Ecosystem Habitat Goals report that called for protecting 100,000 acres of San Francisco Bay Wetlands. The updated report synthesizes the latest climate and watershed science, assesses the biggest threats, and suggests a science-based roadmap to protect San Francisco Bay communities, habitats, and species with more resilient shorelines.

The report stresses the use of natural restoration solutions, primarily wetland restoration projects, to protect the shoreline and community from rising sea levels and extreme storms. Wetlands are natural buffers that absorb wave impact and excess water, filter pollutants, sustain fisheries, and provide natural places for the community to enjoy. It’s a win-win for the bay!

I was brought on to help with this project from my first month at the Conservancy. My PhD in ecology served me well as my first task was to help edit scientific content for clarity and consistency. Most of the scientific reports had already been written by various groups and as part of the project management team, my main responsibility was help manage the editing and layout processes to get all documents ready for publication. Additionally, I participated in steering committee meetings which helped develop the key syntheses of the reports, messaging, and communication. All of this took up a majority of my time at the Conservancy as I edited text, tracked down missing information, and helped bring together all aspects of the report which included science reports, case studies, synthesizes, maps, call-out boxes, figures and illustrative photos.

All the hard work paid off with the release of the report in mid-October with an amazing amount of local and regional news interest, op-eds, and social media presence. The next steps are now to drive implementation of the Science Update’s recommendations. Next year will be an exciting time for the Baylands habitats and I look forward to being involved in restoration efforts in the future.

One of the best parts about being a California State Sea Grant Fellow is the opportunity to develop relationships and collaborations through meetings, workshops, and projects. Working on the Baylands Goals Science Update provided just that, and my interactions with different agencies gave me a great education for how natural resources are managed at different levels. This process also fostered personal relationships that helped me develop a strong network that will be invaluable to my future career.

Written by Brenna Mahoney Rudd

You can download and read the full report at www.baylandsgoals.org