Historic Changes of the Laguna de Santa Rosa

Publication Type  Conference Presentation
Authors  William J. Hart
Secondary Authors  Steve Butkus: Matt St. John: Clayton Creager
Affiliations  North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board
Year  2009

Poster Abstract

We hypothesize that natural (pre-disturbance) conditions of the Laguna de Santa Rosa (Laguna) watershed have been altered due to land use changes introduced by California settlers of the mid 19th Century. The land use changes were the result of concerns about flooding and its threat to human populations, sewage management and the associated risks to human health as the result of sanitation discharges; and the promise of an increased acreage of arable land for agricultural production. The land use changes have created major changes in the stream and wetland features of the Laguna watershed.

The historic accounts of water quality in the Laguna describe it as a productive, low gradient system that included a mosaic of open channels, wetlands, and lake-like features. The historic Laguna was likely a productive warm-water system, supporting wildlife and human use of the Laguna for fishing and recreation. Historical ecological analysis can provide a better understanding of background conditions that can be used to develop scientifically defensible habitat restoration and water quality management goals and objectives. The use of historical ecology does not necessarily result in the identification of management objectives to recreate pre-disturbance conditions. Rather, the analysis provides context for the necessary consideration of what are desirable and feasible future conditions.

Conference Name  2009 State of the Laguna Conference and Science Extravaganza
Presentation Type: 
Historic_Changes_Laguna_Poster.pdf42.38 MB