NEWS WORTH NOTING: Working group releases report evaluating the use of nature-based strategies to combat ocean acidification; Conservation, fish and recreation groups applaud draft Mokelumne River Wild and Scenic Study Report; Initial 2018 restoration allocation & default flow schedule for San Joaquin Rest. Pgm released

Working Group Releases Report Evaluating the Use of Nature-based Strategies to Combat Ocean Acidification

From the Natural Resources Agency:

After months of research and deliberation, a working group convened by the California Ocean Protection Council and California Ocean Science Trust today released a report analyzing seagrass and kelp as an ocean acidification management tool in California. The report, which synthesizes data and results from ongoing research and monitoring, provides guidance on next steps for the state as it considers future nature-based actions to reduce the negative impacts of ocean acidification in California and beyond.

Ocean acidification, the decrease in pH that results as more carbon dioxide is absorbed into seawater, has serious implications for shell-building organisms (like oysters) and fish behavior, and has the potential to substantially alter marine food webs and fisheries along the U.S. West Coast. As part of ongoing efforts the state of California is pursuing to reduce the negative impacts of ocean acidification, a working group of the California Ocean Protection Council Science Advisory Team studied the role seagrass and kelp can serve in helping California adapt to climate change.

“The goal is to gain a better understanding of how and if these underwater plants might protect coastal species that are vulnerable to ocean acidification,” said Dr. Karina Nielsen, Co-Chair of the working group and director of the Estuary and Ocean Science Center at San Francisco State University. “The habitats that seagrass and kelp create can increase seawater pH, and may provide relief for some species. We are continuing to learn more about when and where we are likely to see the largest benefits.”

The new science report was prompted by recent legislation in California, Senate Bill 1363 (Monning, 2016), that calls for scientific and evidence-based approaches to protect and restore seagrass and kelp as a critical strategy in enhancing the state’s ability to withstand ocean acidification. This effort and other recent investments by the Ocean Protection Council, in partnership with Ocean Science Trust, take strides toward establishing California’s Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia Reduction Program.

“California is taking the lead in supporting innovative research and monitoring to ensure we are making decisions about these important coastal resources informed by the best available science,” said Executive Director of the Ocean Protection Council Deborah Halberstadt. “This report helps provide a scientific foundation that investing in the protection and restoration of these habitats is a win-win strategy for the health of our coast and ocean. Improved management of aquatic vegetation may also be a key natural solution in our larger climate change adaptation and mitigation strategy.”

A key finding scientists highlighted is that protecting and restoring seagrass meadows and kelp forests is a “no-regrets” coastal management strategy, meaning that aside from potential carbon benefits, they provide a range of valuable ecosystem functions including protection of coastal zones from sea level rise and erosion. Robust and healthy habitats like these support functional, resilient ecosystems, and provide important refuges in the face of ocean acidification and other stressors. These habitats provide many benefits to a variety of marine life including shell-forming species known to be sensitive to ocean acidification, such as oysters, mussels and urchins, or that are commercially valuable, such as crabs, herring, rockfishes, and abalone.

Other findings of the report include:

  • Ocean acidification amelioration by seagrass and kelp is likely to be more prominent during spring to summer months when these habitats are more productive and day length is longer.
  • Even small pH amelioration by seagrass and kelp could result in relatively significant effects for a variety of species, especially their vulnerable early life stages.
  • California should continue to identify and control existing threats that contribute to habitat loss, as well as continue small-scale restoration efforts across the state.

The science report will be presented on February 6 in Sacramento at a hearing of the Assembly Select Committee on Coastal Protection and Access to Natural Resources. In addition to the report’s findings, the hearing will include presentations from researchers at The Nature Conservancy, University of California, Davis, and California State University, Northridge highlighting specific actions being taken locally and key next steps for California.

For information on the legislative hearing please visit: http://coastalprotection.assembly.ca.gov/hearings

Conservation, fish and recreation groups applaud draft Mokelumne River Wild and Scenic
Study Report

From Friends of the River, American Whitewater, CSPA, and the Foothill Conservancy:

Local, statewide and national conservation, fish and recreation organizations are applauding the release of the State Natural Resources Agency’s draft Mokelumne River Wild and Scenic Study Report, which recommends adding 37 miles of the Mokelumne River to the California Wild and Scenic River System.

The report was mandated by the 2015 passage of Assembly Bill 142 (Bigelow, R-O’Neals).
AB 142 was supported by local governments, water agencies, businesses and business groups, tribes and outdoor-oriented nonprofit organizations. It required the Natural Resources Agency to conduct a study to determine the suitability of sections of the upper Mokelumne River and North Fork Mokelumne for inclusion in the state system. The study segments included in the bill start below Salt Springs Dam and end at Pardee Reservoir’s flood surcharge pool downstream of Highway 49 near Jackson, with gaps around PG&E facilities on the river.

The Resources Agency released the draft report for public comment on January 26. The study was completed by an expert consulting firm, GEI Consultants, and informed by an updated wild and scenic river-related water rights and diversion report by the California Research Bureau, a branch of the California State Library.

The draft Mokelumne study is now available for public review and comment. Comments are due to the California Natural Resources Agency by February 28. The agency will hold a public meeting to discuss the study and hear public comments on Thursday, February 15, at the Mokelumne Hill Town Hall, 8283 Main St, Mokelumne Hill, beginning at 6 p.m.

“As someone who has spent a great deal of time in the Mokelumne River canyon and on the river, I’m not surprised the state found the river to have ‘extraordinary scenic values,” said Foothill Conservancy President Katherine Evatt. “It’s an incredibly beautiful place that brings joy, peace and inspiration to local residents and visitors, alike.”

Continue reading press release here:  AB 142 study NR_joint

San Joaquin Restoration Program: Initial 2018 Restoration Allocation & Default Flow Schedule Released

The Bureau of Reclamation has released an initial Restoration Allocation & Default Flow Schedule for the period March 1, 2018 through February 28, 2019.

Using the best available forecasting information for precipitation and runoff above Millerton Lake, Reclamation sets the initial allocation at 171.178 thousand acre-feet (TAF) as measured at Gravelly Ford. This corresponds to 288.124 TAF at Friant Dam including the expected Holding Contracts below Friant Dam. This is a “Dry” Water Year Type and is based on an unimpaired inflow into Millerton of 741 TAF using a 20/80 blending of the DWR and NWS runoff forecasts and the 75% exceedance forecast.

The Restoration Administrator for the Program will return a recommendation based on this allocation in the coming days. The current hydrologic situation is dynamic, with dry conditions expected through the first half of February. If current trends persist, the Restoration Allocation will be reduced, possibly resulting in a “Critical-High” water year type and may be based on the 90% exceedance forecast. The Restoration Flow Guidelines provide detailed guidance on the allocation process. We anticipate multiple updates to the Restoration Allocation will be made throughout the spring until the final allocation is set at the end of June 2018.

Until March 1, 2018, Restoration Flows will continue under the 2017 Restoration Allocation and associated Restoration Administrator Recommendations.

The Initial 2018 Restoration Allocation & Default Flow Schedule can be viewed here: http://www.restoresjr.net/?wpfb_dl=2088

For Information about Restoration Flows, please visit http://www.restoresjr.net/restoration-goal/restoration-flows/.

For the Restoration Administrator recommendations, please visit http://www.restoresjr.net/documentsreports/ra-recommendations/

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About News Worth Noting:  News Worth Noting is a collection of press releases, media statements, and other materials produced by federal, state, and local government agencies, water agencies, and academic institutions, as well as non-profit and advocacy organizations.  News Worth Noting also includes relevant legislator statements and environmental policy and legal analyses that are publicly released by law firms.  If your agency or organization has an item you would like included here, please email it to Maven.

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