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MARIN COUNTY'S NEWS MONTHLY - FREE PRESS
(415)868-1600 - (415)868-0502(fax) - P.O. Box 31, Bolinas, CA, 94924

April, 2007



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A Warning For Tomales Bay from SAN FRANCISCO BAY
San Francisco Estuary Institute Report Demonstrates Need to Protect Uplands

The ecological connectivity among the Bay's marshes, grasslands, creeks and seasonal wetlands show that the edges of the to-be-restored Tomales Bay Wetlands need to be protected from development and inappropriate public access.

"Ecological Connections between Bay lands and Uplands: Examples from Marin County," San Francisco Estuary Institute's (SFEI) report to the Marin Audubon Society, Marin Conservation League, Marin Bay lands Advocates and Sierra Club, was published in January 2007. These organizations commissioned SFEI to study the importance of maintaining adjacent Bay uplands to prove stronger environmental protection policies are needed in the upcoming revision of the Countywide Plan.

The report emphasizes the ecological connectivity among the Bay's marshes, oak woodlands, grasslands, creeks and seasonal wetlands next to and upland from the shoreline and provides scientific support to protect remaining undeveloped lands along the Bay from Gallinas Creek north to the Sonoma border.

The SFEI team of eight senior scientists selected focal species to represent the many ways uplands and baylands are ecologically connected. Focal species were chosen based on their habitat need, feeding behavior, diet and pattern of dispersal and migration.

The selected species are: Salt Marsh Harvest Mouse, an endangered species inhabiting bay tidal marshes, uses uplands fringing the Bay for refuge from flooding. The California Ground Squirrel, who forages daily in grasslands and diked baylands. The California Meadow Vole who moves seasonally, foraging between baylands and grasslands and is an abundant food source for predators, including predators who move between uplands and baylands. The vole also demonstrates nocturnal ecological connectivity. The Pallid Bat, who forages in woodlands and urban areas, grasslands and diked baylands. The species demonstrates nocturnal connectivity. The Yuma Bat, forages on nuisance insects, connecting woodlands and urban areas to wetlands and aquatic patches. The Song Sparrow forages and seeks refuge from flooding in high tidal marshes, baylands and riparian areas. The species demonstrates the need for contiguous habitat patches along environmental gradients. The Great Blue Heron and the Great Egret both are top predators foraging in grasslands and from fringe woodlands to baylands. The Northern Harrier, a top predator in baylands, forages in grasslands, tidal and diked bay land. The Tree Swallow, a significant insect predator, forages in woodlands, riparian areas and diked and tidal baylands, nesting in trees. Migratory shorebirds forage in seasonal wetlands and grasslands, as well as tidal and diked baylands. The Coyote, a species that moves between landscapes, connects all uplands to all baylands. Coyote are a keystone species because of its regulation of other predator populations.


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