DRAFT COPY Laguna Watershed Research Plan 2008-2012: Building a Scientific Knowledgebase to Restore and Preserve the Laguna de Santa Rosa Watershed in a Changing Environmental and Economic World

Publication Type  Resource
Authors  Christina Sloop
Year of Publication  2008
Publisher  Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation
Place Published  Santa Rosa, CA
Key Words  research plan draft
Abstract or Description  

The Laguna de Santa Rosa watershed spans 256 square miles and represents a complex of unique and threatened aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. The Laguna de Santa Rosa is one of the largest floodplains in California, directly and indirectly affected by the many impacts from the largest concentration of urban centers in Sonoma County: Cotati, Rohnert Park, Sebastopol, Santa Rosa, and Windsor. Within the last century, urban, agricultural, and other land uses have resulted in highly fragmented landscapes and critically endangered wetland ecosystems throughout the watershed. Much of the natural processes within the Laguna de Santa Rosa and its watershed tributaries were altered and now reflect these human caused modifications. This has rendered the watershed ecosystem functions impaired, with negative impacts to natural hydrology, sedimentation, flood capacity, water quality and to valuable ecosystem services for humans, such as for example flood storage, nutrient cycling, and recreation. After agricultural conversion and urbanization, the watershed’s Santa Rosa Plain region now contains only remnants of the distinctive and formerly vast vernal pool seasonal wetlands. This irreplaceable wetland ecosystem contains several unique rare and endangered species in need of recovery found only in this corner of the world.
The Laguna de Santa Rosa watershed typifies the environmental and economic challenges faced by the surrounding communities in the larger San Francisco Bay Area and elsewhere in California- sustaining agricultural production, developing alternative solutions to expanding human populations and urbanization, and promoting watershed and wetland conservation and restoration. Historically extremely rich and diverse, the degraded watershed ecosystems now perform at sub-optimal levels, and active restoration and effective long-term conservation and management are needed to re-establish their appropriate functioning.
In order to guide these important processes of watershed restoration, conservation and appropriate long-term management a sound and objective methodology of inquiry and evaluation based in science is crucial to an adaptive strategy leading to lasting success. A science-based approach will ensure that appropriate methods are tested and used in the restoration of ecosystems, and objective decisions are made regarding the approaches to long-term conservation and management of threatened and endangered species and their habitats.
With the guidance of the Laguna Science Advisory Council (LSAC), a group of 28 local and regional academic and agency scientists, the Laguna Foundation Science Program has developed this five-year research plan to effectively guide the conservation and restoration in the Laguna de Santa Rosa watershed. This plan will focus research and information that will help to develop appropriate techniques to protect and enhance the quality of remaining natural areas, identify and evaluate effective restoration methods and management techniques for recovery of threatened and endangered species, to identify threats associated with continued habitat loss or degradation, non-native invasive species, pollution, and climate change with special emphasis on the Laguna de Santa Rosa waterway, its tributaries, the Santa Rosa Plain, and montane upper watershed regions.


This is a DRAFT copy.

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Research Plan-Final_Draft.pdf1.17 MB