A wetland and riparian base map for the Bay Area

BAARI is a detailed base map of the Bay Area's aquatic features that have been mapped using a standard mapping protocol developed by SFEI's GIS team.  BAARI includes all wetlands, open water, streams, ditches, tidal marshes and flats.

BAARI can be used to track changes in the amount, extent and condition of aquatic resources, serve as the base map for environmental monitoring study designs, and support resource planning and management efforts. BAARI is viewable on EcoAtlas, where users can browse the area's aquatic features and restoration projects on an interactive map.


  • Stream flow direction

  • Stream order

  • Detailed and standardized aquatic resource classification system: (37 wetland types, 4 stream types)


BAARI was created using a Geographic Information System (GIS) with true color imagery and a suite of ancillary data sources, and has undergone extensive quality control to ensure accuracy. Features were hand-digitized while referencing ancillary sources, which include national datasets for elevation and wetlands, output from stream models, local wetland and stream data, and Google Earth for spotting temporal variation.

Mapping procedures and standards can be found here.


These maps have been made to a standard of quality so that they can be used by both environmental scientists and resource managers. We can apply this map to:

Manage our resources

Government agencies and managers can identify and prioritize opportunities for ecological restoration and enhancement of wetlands and watersheds; track changes in the extent of wetlands and other habitats; evaluate the success of policies related to wetland protection, mitigation, and restoration; understand impacts at a watershed and landscape scale; and track habitat changes resulting from climate change and establish policies for resilient landscapes.

Study our environment

Scientists can analyze the landscape with BAARI to answer questions and design research studies. How many acres of a given habitat exist to support key species? Are there corridors that facilitate wildlife movement? How can we design an experiment that characterizes the resources in a select watershed? How do present day aquatic resources compare to past landscapes? How do species populations relate to available habitat?

Hydrologists can use this detailed channel network in their models to improve runoff and loading calculations. BAARI could also assist contaminant point source tracking.


Maps give us a sense of place and help orient us to our landscape. BAARI can educate Creeks Friends groups, NGOs, and the general public about their watersheds and the different aquatic resources and wetland types in their area, thus helping to create communities of effective environmental stewards.


BAARI can help planners visualize the effects of development choices, Low Impact Development implementation, and possible links between green space and available aquatic resources. BAARI can support flood control and flood infrastructure improvement planning.

BAARi was first released in 2009. Updates are made to the map as funding is available.  

Key Links

EcoAtlas – Explore California's aquatic resources, their condition, and restoration projects.

California Aquatic Resource Inventory - A standardized statewide map that provides accurate and detailed information about wetland and riparian extent for management, planning, and scientific study of the State’s aquatic resources.

Bay Area Monitoring Pilot Prop 50 project description - SFEI has applied a toolkit of monitoring and assessment methods to the wetlands in the Bay Area.

California's Wetland and Riparian Protection Policy (WRAPP) - California is establishing new policy to help reverse historic trends in wetland loss, mitigate future risks to aquatic resources, and produce measurable improvement in the abundance, diversity and health of the state’s wetland and riparian resource.

Wetlands Portal - The State Water Board's outreach tool for wetland information including definition of wetland types and their distribution across the state.

EPA's three level monitoring framework

2009 to 2016
Associated Staff: 
Associated Data: 
Programs and Focus Areas: 
Environmental Informatics Program
Geographic Information Systems
Resilient Landscapes Program
Wetland Monitoring & Assessment
Location Information
General Project Location(s): 
San Francisco Bay Region