Sean Baumgarten's picture

Sean Baumgarten

Associate Environmental Scientist
Resilient Landscapes Program
(510) 746-7335

Sean Baumgarten joined SFEI’s Resilient Landscapes team in 2012. His research focuses on the historical ecology of California ecosystems, using archival data to reconstruct the form and function of past landscapes and understand how they have changed over time. Sean has conducted research on coastal, riverine, and terrestrial ecosystems throughout the Bay Area as well as in southern California and the Central Valley. Sean earned a Master of Environmental Science and Management degree with a specialization in Conservation Planning from the Bren School at UC Santa Barbara, where his research focused on developing fire management strategies for Tejon Ranch in Southern California. He received a B.S. in Wildlife, Fish, and Conservation Biology from UC Davis.

Related Projects, News, and Events

Design by Ruth Askevold

Petaluma River Watershed: A Slough of Change (Event)

Come learn about an exciting report recently completed by the San Francisco Estuary Institute (SFEI) and Sonoma RCD on the historical ecology of the Petaluma River watershed. SFEI will highlight interesting details about the history of this unique watershed and share insights about how historical data can be used to improve future management and conservation decisions. Anyone interested in learning more about the past, present, and future of the Petaluma River is encouraged to attend.

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.

Photo credit: Kingmond Young

Flood Control 2.0 Wins an Outstanding Environmental Project Award! (News)

The Flood Control 2.0 project team was presented with an Outstanding Environmental Project Award at the 13th Biennial State of the Estuary Conference in Oakland, CA. The award is given by the Friends of the San Francisco Estuary to projects that benefit the San Francisco-Bay Delta Estuary and its watersheds.

Photo Courtesy of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission

Peninsula Watershed Historical Ecology Study (Project)

The Peninsula Watershed, located in San Mateo County on the San Francisco Peninsula, is the site of three of the Bay Area’s largest reservoirs—San Andreas, Upper and Lower Crystal Springs, and Pilarcitos—which provide drinking water for residents throughout region. Encompassing the upper portions of San Mateo Creek and Pilarcitos Creek watersheds, the “Peninsula Watershed” also supports some of the largest intact remnants of contiguous habitat in the region, including extensive oak woodlands, old-growth Douglas Fir forests, serpentine grasslands, and chaparral.

Flood Control 2.0 Completed! (News)

SFEI and several agency partners recently completed a multi-year, EPA funded project called Flood Control 2.0. The goal of the project was to develop information that is useful for integrating habitat restoration into flood management at the Bay edge. Project outputs are now available at floodcontrol.sfei.org.

Laguna de Santa Rosa Historical Ecology Initiative (Project)

The Laguna de Santa Rosa (Laguna) watershed spans 256 square miles and supports a unique complex of biologically diverse ecosystems. Containing the urban centers of Santa Rosa, Sebastopol, Cotati, Rohnert Park, and Windsor, the Laguna watershed encompasses one of the largest floodplains in California. Historically the Laguna watershed supported a diverse ecosystem consisting of oak savanna/vernal pool complexes, riparian forest, emergent and off channel wetlands, and open water.

Historical Ecology and Landscape Change in the Central Laguna de Santa Rosa (Project)

This study synthesizes a diverse array of data to examine the ecological patterns, ecosystem functions, and hydrology that characterized a central portion of the Laguna de Santa Rosa during the mid-19th century, and to analyze landscape changes over the past 150 years. The primary purpose of this study was to help guide restoration actions and other measures aimed at reducing nutrient loads within this portion of the Laguna de Santa Rosa watershed.

Lower Walnut Creek Vision Just Released! (News)

SFEI recently released a resilient landscape vision for lower Walnut Creek that incorporates habitat restoration actions into flood risk management. The vision, developed in coordination with a team of regional science experts, highlights opportunities for restoring and sustaining vital tidal wetland habitats around lower Walnut Creek while supporting a high level of flood protection under rising San Francisco Bay water levels.

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Announcing SFEI's first binational study: The Tijuana River Valley Historical Ecology Investigation (News)

A new report shows how the Tijuana River Valley, which straddles the boundary between Southern California and northern Mexico, looked and functioned prior to the existence of the border wall, the city of Tijuana, and the state of California.

Tijuana River Valley Historical Ecology Investigation Published (News)

The Tijuana River Valley Historical Ecology Investigation—completed in January 2017—synthesized hundreds of historical maps, photographs, and texts to reconstruct the ecological, hydrological, and geomorphic conditions of the Tijuana River valley prior to major European-American landscape modification.

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Tijuana River Valley Historical Ecology Investigation (Project)

The Tijuana River Valley Historical Ecology Investigation synthesized hundreds of historical maps, photographs, and texts to reconstruct the the ecological, hydrological, and geomorphic conditions of the valley prior to major European-American landscape modification.

Lower Walnut Creek Historical Ecology Study (Project)

During the mid-19th century, the lower Walnut Creek watershed was a landscape dominated by extensive wetlands, meandering creeks, and grassy plains. The marshes, sloughs, and meadows provided habitat and food for a huge number of wildlife species ranging from grizzly bears and elk to clapper rails and steelhead. Over the past 150 years, urban development, diking and filling of wetlands, and channelization of streams has resulted in dramatic changes to the watershed, and much of the historical habitat has been lost.

Flood Control 2.0 (Project)

Flood Control 2.0 is an ambitious regional effort aimed at helping restore stream and wetland habitats, water quality, and shoreline resilience around San Francisco Bay. The project leverages local resources from several forward-looking flood control agencies to redesign major flood control channels so that they provide both future flood conveyance and ecological benefit under a changing climate. This timely project will develop a set of innovative approaches for bringing environmental benefits and cost-savings to flood protection efforts at the mouths of creeks that drain to San Francisco Bay.

North San Diego County Lagoons Historical Ecology Study (Project)

The Northern San Diego County Lagoons Historical Ecology Investigation draws on hundreds of historical documents to analyze and reconstruct historical landscape conditions for six northern San Diego County estuaries prior to the major modifications of the late 19th and 20th centuries.

Lower Laguna de Santa Rosa and Mark West Creek: Changes in Historical Channel Alignment (Project)

Over the past century and a half, the hydrology of the Laguna de Santa Rosa watershed has been altered by a variety land use changes, including urbanization, agricultural development, draining and filling of wetlands, and channelization of streams. These changes have impacted the function of the Laguna and Mark West Creek and contributed to a range of contemporary management problems, including habitat degradation, impaired water quality, altered sediment dynamics, salmonid stranding, flooding, and trash accumulation.

John Muir/Mt. Wanda Historical Ecology Reconnaissance Study (Project)

The Mt. Wanda Historical Ecology Investigation assembled historical landscape data for the Mt. Wanda unit of the John Muir National Historic Site (NHS), located in the Alhambra Valley just south of downtown Martinez, CA. The John Muir NHS preserves the home and property where John Muir lived from 1890-1914, including the 326-acre Mt. Wanda parcel, where Muir frequently took walks with his daughters Helen and Wanda.

Historical Ecology for Lower Walnut Creek promises to deliver insights at an upcoming event (News)

SFEI scientists Sean Baumgarten and Scott Dusterhoff will present findings from the Lower Walnut Creek Historical Ecology Study at the Quadrennial Contra Costa County Creek and Watershed Symposium, to be held on December 3, 2015, at the Pleasant Hill Community Center.

Lower Novato Creek Vision Just Released! (News)

SFEI recently released a resilient landscape vision for lower Novato Creek that incorporates habitat restoration actions into flood risk management. The vision, developed in coordination with a team of regional science experts, highlights opportunities for restoring and sustaining vital tidal wetland habitats around lower Novato Creek while supporting a high level of flood protection under rising San Francisco Bay water levels.

Novato Creek Baylands Historical Ecology Study report now available (News)

SFEI recently completed an historical ecology study of lower Novato Creek in Marin County. The study was conducted as part of the larger Flood Control 2.0 project and was aimed at illustrating the change in creek and bayland habitat conditions over the past 120 years following the installation of flood control levees.