California's EcoAtlas provides access to information for effective wetland management. EcoAtlas is a set of tools for generating, assembling, storing, visualizing, sharing, and reporting environmental data and information. The tools can be used individually or together, and they can be adjusted or tuned to meet the specific needs of environmental planners, regulators, managers, scientists, and educators. The maps and tools can be used to create a complete picture of aquatic resources in the landscape by integrating stream and wetland maps, restoration information, and monitoring results with land use, transportation, and other information important to the state’s wetlands.
Scientific Background and Purpose
EcoAtlas is synonymous with the framework and toolset of the Wetland and Riparian Area Monitoring Plan (WRAMP) of the California Wetland Monitoring Workgroup (CWMW). EcoAtlas operationalizes WRAMP by enabling users to assess the abundance, distribution, diversity, and condition of surface waters in the landscape or watershed context. EcoAtlas has been used to apply the WRAMP framework for wetland and stream protection in a variety of California watersheds, and it can be adjusted to more generally support natural resource planning, assessment, monitoring, and reporting (http://sfei.li/cwmw1). EcoAtlas, in essence, represents a distillation of the best science-based, rigorous thinking and planning conducted by the CWMW over the course of many years. The WRAMP Framework page, cited above, contains a trove of studies, reports, and presentations that demonstrate the support the WRAMP framework and EcoAtlas.
A central aspect of the WRAMP framework is a classification of environmental data, their methods of collection, and their stated purposes into three levels.
Level 1 data: Maps and spatial information
These data consist of map-based inventories of aquatic areas and related resources, including rivers, streams, lakes, bays, wetlands, and their riparian areas, plus events and activities that have a direct effect on the distribution, abundance, diversity, or condition of aquatic resources. Level 1 maps may serve to plan and conduct landscape and watershed profiles of aquatic resource condition.
Level 2 data: General wetland condition information
This extensive dataset comprises rapid, field-based semi-quantitative measures of the overall condition of aquatic resources. In California, the California Rapid Assessment Method (CRAM) is the most widely used Level 2 method for assessing the conditions of wetlands and streams. Other Level 2 assessments exist and may also be used when needed.
Level 3 data: Specific condition information
These datasets are quantitative, field measurements of specific aspects of condition. Plant species composition, nesting bird surveys, spawning success, and groundwater recharge rates are examples of Level 3 data types. Level 3 methods can vary from site to site for the same kinds of Level 3 data (http://www.mywaterquality.ca.gov/monitoring_council/wetland_workgroup/index.html) EcoAtlas currently displays detailed condition data on water and sediment toxicity from various studies throughout the State. These data are provided by California Environmental Data Exchange Network (CEDEN) so users may view water quality data relevant to wetland condition.
Information about the data sources used on EcoAtlas is available on the Data page.
With constant renewal and redevelopment, EcoAtlas has been serving the San Francisco Bay Region and broader California constituencies for almost 20 years.
The Project Tracker tracks restoration projects, including maps, habitat plans, contact information, and a library of project files.
The Landscape Profile Tool summarizes ecological information at various spatial scales for assessment, planning, and reporting.
The CARI Editor allows users to submit updates, deletions or new features for streams and wetlands. An email is sent to acknowledge receipt of the request, however the review and processing of edits is dependent on available resources.
Related Projects, News, and Events:
CRAM is a standardized, scientifically defensible rapid assessment method for monitoring the ecological conditions of wetlands throughout California. Because it is standardized, one can compare ecological conditions of wetlands locally, regionally and statewide.
With California's drought rapidly changing the outlook for natural resources, decision-makers must be equipped with information and tools that facilitate clear and rapid decisions. The proposed grant would fund the standardization, visualization, and sharing of Level 3 data.
The California Aquatic Resources Inventory (CARI) is a Geographic Information System (GIS) based map of wetlands, streams, and riparian areas within California that is hosted online through EcoAtlas.
Eelgrass (Zostera marina and Z. pacifica) is recognized as an important ecological resource in nearshore open coast areas, shallow bays, and estuaries throughout coastal California.
This project will create an EcoAtlas user community for the Lahontan region of the Sierra Nevada to develop capacities within the region to apply EcoAtlas through existing local, regional, state, and federal programs to track projects and summarize map-based and rapid assessment information at the watershed scale.
This tool provides a permit negotiation tool for applicants and Regional Water Board staff to work together on preparing a permit for a 401 Water Quality Certification or Waste Discharge Report for projects impacting waters of the US or California. The application tool will streamline 401 Certification applications, provide access to historical 401 cases, and enable standardized reports on the status and trends of 401 projects and ambient conditions for watersheds, regions, and statewide.
Information and maps for 168 projects from the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board were uploaded to the Project Tracker database. These projects can be viewed on EcoAtlas and the California Wetlands Portal. This project also provided guidance and training to support the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board's participation in the Online 401 Pilot Study.
The CRAM Bar-Built Estuarine module is used for assessing reaches of coastal rivers and streams that are ecologically influenced by seasonal closures of their tidal inlets.