Sarah Lowe's picture

Sarah Lowe

Environmental Scientist
Senior Project Manager
Assistant to the Chief Scientist
Resilient Landscapes Program

Sarah joined the Regional Monitoring Program for Water Quality in San Francisco Bay (Bay-RMP) in 1994. During that time Sarah conducted science and managed projects and special studies related to contaminants, toxicity, and benthic ecology. Sarah later managed the Institute’s Data Management team, was the assistant Quality Assurance Officer, and Assistant Manager of the Bay-RMP for several years. In 2010 Sarah joined the Wetland Science Focus Area and became a Senior Project Manager for projects whose focus is to provide wetland science and technology in a watershed context for California's Wetland and Riparian Area Protection Policy. Ms. Lowe received her M.S. in Environmental Management from the University of San Francisco and B.A. in Biology from the University of California at Santa Cruz.

Related Projects, News, and Events

EcoAtlas (Project)

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.

California Rapid Assessment Method (CRAM) (Project)

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.

Petaluma Valley Historical Hydrology and Ecology Study (Project)

This project reconstructs the historical hydrology and ecology of the Petaluma River watershed prior to major Euro-American modification. It demonstrates the efficacy of historical hydrology and ecology in identifying and prioritizing multi-benefit restoration opportunities.

Russian River Watershed Projects at the San Francisco Estuary Institute (Project)

Our projects in the Russian River Watershed help us to understand our past, understand our present, and envision our future. Learn more about what SFEI is doing in partnership with others to advance our scientific understanding of this valuable landscape.

San Francisco Estuary National Water Quality Monitoring Network Pilot Study Report (Project)

The National Water Quality Monitoring Council draft National Water Quality Monitoring Network for U.S. Coastal Waters and their Tributaries: Results of Pilot Studies report is now available. This report summarizes the results and conclusions of three Pilot Studies undertaken during 2007 to test the concepts of the National Water Quality Monitoring Network for U.S. Coastal Waters and their Tributaries.

Santa Clara Valley Water District Priority D5 Project's Watershed Condition Assessments (2010 to 2018) (Project)

SFEI and the Santa Clara Valley Water District's Priority D-5 Project are assessing the distribution and abundance of wetlands, and the overall condition of streams in five major watersheds in Santa Clara County, CA by employing the District's Ecological Monitoring and Assessment Framework that includes BAARI and CRAM.

Graphic by Lester McKee, Ph.D.

New Manuscript on Pollutants in the Guadalupe River Addresses Key Questions (News)

Guadalupe River is contaminated with mercury mining wastes from runoff associated with the historic New Almaden Mining District in the upper watershed that produced 40 million kilograms during its working life (1850-1975) and with PCB and other urban pollutants from a long history of urbanization and industrial land uses.

SFEI has been monitoring pollutant concentrations in the Guadalupe River during winter storms since October 2002. The result is one of the world’s most extensive data sets on mercury, PCBs, and other pollutant concentrations and loads in an urban river.  In a recent manuscript, SFEI staff used the dataset to answer three major questions.

New data layers and Landscape Profile mode added to EcoAtlas (News)

New data layers and Landscape Profile mode have been added to EcoAtlas (, an online tool for visualizing the abundance, diversity, and condition of wetlands, along with the project activities that are affecting the landscape. Enhancements include:

Design by Linda Wanczyk

RipZET: A GIS-based Tool for Estimating Riparian Zones (Project)

The Riparian Zone Estimator Tool (RipZET) is a decision support tool developed by the San Francisco Estuary Institute and Aquatic Science Center for the California Riparian Habitat Joint Venture and the California Water Resources Control Board to assist in the visualization and characterization of riparian areas in the watershed context.

California Aquatic Resource Inventory (CARI) (Project)

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.

Developing a Sustainable Business Model for the EcoAtlas Toolset (Project)

This project is funded by a USEPA wetland development grant (2015-2017) to develop a recommended funding and business model for the EcoAtlas toolset.   EcoAtlas is a framework and toolset recommended in the State's Wetland and Riparian Area Monitoring Plan (WRAMP) of the California Wetland Monitoring Workgroup (CWMW). The tools enable users to visualize and assess the distribution, abundance, diversity, and condition of surface waters in a landscape or watershed context.  The Business Plan project is developing several overview and planning memos and a final, compiled recommendation for an EcoAtlas business plan. Those documents are made available here as they are completed.

Get on the curve: Habitat Development Curves help determine the performance of on-the-ground projects (News)

How do you know whether your project assessment, conducted by the California Rapid Assessment Method, reflects an improvement that is aligned with ecosystem goals? Habitat Development Curves (HDCs) help to visualize and measure the performance of on-the-ground projects relative to ecosystem goals.

Evaluation of CRAM performance for assessing wetland stress, small wetlands, and wetland habitat development (Project)

Caltrans funded this wetlands research to fill important gaps in knowledge about the ability of the California Rapid Assessment Method (CRAM) to assess small wetlands, wetlands stress, and the rate at which wetland restoration projects develop into mature habitats. Caltrans proposed specific tasks based on the research priorities provided by the CRAM Commitee of the statewide California Wetlands Monitoring Workgroup.

Montezuma Technical Review Team (Project)

The Montezuma wetland restoration project is returning ~2,000 acres of diked baylands to tidal, seasonal, and managed wetlands in an eastern portion of Suisun Bay near the town of Collinsville, California in Solano County.

Bay Area Aquatic Resource Inventory (BAARI) (Project)

The Bay Area Aquatic Resources Inventory (BAARI) is a GIS base map of the Bay Area's wetlands, open water, streams, ditches, tidal marshes and flats, and riparian areas. BAARI was developed using standardized mapping protocols to ensure that the level of detail and wetland classification system is standardized across the region. 

Critical Coastal Areas (Project)

The Critical Coastal Areas (CCA) Program is an innovative program to foster collaboration among local stakeholders and government agencies, to better coordinate resources, and to focus efforts on coastal watersheds in critical need of protection from polluted runoff.

North Bay Mercury Biosentinel Monitoring (Project)

In 2011-2014 SFEI and UC Davis developed and implemented a multi-species biosentinel monitoring approach as an effective and efficient way of monitoring methylmercury exposure in wetland restoration projects across the North Bay. The monitoring design for this project was developed with input from a Science Advisory Group (SAG) of regional and national experts and input from local stakeholders, in order to build a design that would address questions of management concern.

Tahoe WRAMP Demonstration: Mapping Standards (Project)

The Tahoe WRAMP Demonstration Project implemented detailed and standardized mapping protocols within the Tahoe Basin in two watersheds, based on BAARI mapping standards.  New region specific mapping methodologies were developed to address region specific wetland types. 

North Coast WRAMP Demonstration: Mapping Standards (Project)

The North Coast WRAMP Demonstation Project focused on mapping and assessing the condition of aquatic resources within the Santa Rosa Plain, CA using GIS based mapping protocols consistent with BAARI.  A new regional Mapping Standards Methodology (NCARI) was developed to add regional wetland types not covered in BAARI's documentation. 

Statewide Wetland Tracking, Science, and Policy Development Support (Project)

SFEI’s Wetland Science Focus Area’s Director, Josh Collins, is a leader in the coordination of statewide science advisory teams and acquiring funding to develop monitoring and assessment tools that support the State’s Wetland and Riparian Area Protection Policy.