Protecting biodiversity and facilitating landscape-scale tidal marsh restoration

Management of invasive Spartina in the San Francisco Estuary

Guest Speakers: Drew Kerr and Simon Gunner, California State Coastal Conservancy’s Invasive Spartina Project (ISP)
7:30 p.m. – Online Zoom Presentation
preregister HERE

Spartina helicopter view airboat and biologists Drew Kerr smSpartina helicopter view San Francisco Bay is more than just the geographic feature that defines our region, it is a major global biodiversity hotspot. The largest estuary on the west coast of North America, it is a critical stopover point along the Pacific Flyway migration route for millions of shorebirds and waterfowl. At a time when the world’s biodiversity is under increasing pressure, we have a golden opportunity to protect the treasure at the heart of the Bay Area. Rimming the Bay between freeways, airports, and landfills remain precious tidal wetlands and opportunities to return salt evaporator ponds to functioning ecosystems. After more than a century of destruction, restoration projects are reversing the trend. However, restoring these saltwater marshes may be for naught if we cannot stop another threat that we unleashed in the last century. Atlantic cordgrass planted to stabilize dredge spoils in the 1970s has since hybridized with Pacific cordgrass to create a highly fertile hybrid swarm that crowds out native marsh vegetation and colonizes mudflats to the detriment of foraging shorebirds. Since 2005, the Coastal Conservancy’s Invasive Spartina Project has used airboats, genetic testing, sophisticated GIS, and a lot of hard, muddy work to push back the invasive plants that threaten endangered species like the Ridgway’s rail and salt marsh harvest mouse. Learn about how hometown heroes are doing their part to address the global biodiversity crisis.Restored marsh at Eden LandingRestored marsh at Eden Landing

Speaker Bios:

Drew Kerr is the Treatment Program Manager for the California State Coastal Conservancy’s Invasive Spartina Project (ISP). Before joining ISP in 2005, when Estuary-wide Spartina treatment was just beginning, Drew was the Aquatic Noxious Weed Specialist for the King County Department of Natural Resources in Seattle, where he began his career in wetland ecology and invasive species management in 1999. During his years at King County, Drew also worked on land use policy that established protected wildlife corridors and wetland complexes, and worked extensively with native Pacific Northwest amphibians. He received a BS in Environmental Policy & Behavior and a BA in Economics from the University of Michigan and holds a professional certificate in Wetland Science and Management from the University of Washington. Drew has a passion for ecology, particularly wetlands and aquatic systems, as well as protecting these ecosystems from the impact of noxious weed invasions. He is also managing two smaller invasive plant projects that he started, one for invasive sea lavender (Limonium spp.), and one for seashore paspalum (Paspalum vaginatum) in the southeastern corner of the Estuary.

Simon Gunner is the Senior Botanist at Olofson Environmental for the California State Coastal Conservancy’s Invasive Spartina Project (ISP). Simon developed an early passion for plant ecology, but interned at Harvard University and the New York Botanical Garden in plant systematics laboratories before earning his MA in Plant Biology from the LH Bailey Hortorium at Cornell University. Simon then settled in the Bay Area in 2012 and joined the ISP, where he has joyfully gotten to focus on habitat conservation. He develops cordgrass identification programs, maintains the rare and endangered plant species geodatabase, and assists with tidal marsh restoration designs throughout the Bay Area for ISP.