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Bleak future for Bay area tidal marshes?
Date:11/17/2011

ea levels rise over time. With each tide, muddy waters are carried over the marsh surface and sediment is deposited. However, many acres of former baylands have limited or no tidal connection, cutting them off from this essential sediment supply. These degraded baylands, many of which have been used for agriculture or salt production, can be restored by re-connecting them to the tidal flow. Managers can help restore and preserve existing marsh by re-purposing non-polluted sediments from dredging projects.

"This study points to the need for improved bay-wide sediment management, including re-purposing dredge sediment to kick-start restoration or to feed existing marshes in San Francisco Bay," said co-author Matt Brennan of ESA PWA.

Public agencies such as the California Coastal Conservancy and the US Fish and Wildlife Service are already working to enhance and protect marshes into the future.

"Efforts to reuse dredged sediment from ports, marinas, and shipping channels for wetland restoration are underway, but large amounts of dredged sediment continue to be disposed of in the ocean or bay - not the best use of what we now realize is a valuable resource," explained Amy Hutzel, SF Bay Program Manager of the CA Coastal Conservancy.

When sea levels rose during pre-modern times, tidal marshes gradually migrated into adjacent uplands. Today levees, development, roads, parking lots and other barriers prevent that movement, threatening the future of tidal marsh habitat and dependent wildlife.

"Our results indicate that we must start thinking now about where tidal marshes could move up tothe future potential wetlands. If we can't slow down sea-level rise, we will need to identify and protect areas where marshes can migrate to," Ms. Stralberg said.

The research team posted interactive maps with various scenarios of sea level rise impacts on tidal marsh online at www.prbo.org/sfbayslr. They are also sharing the fi
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Contact: Melissa Pitkin
mpitkin@prbo.org
707-781-2555 x307
PRBO Conservation Science
Source:Eurekalert

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