The Ocean Protection Council (OPC) and SFEI will develop an inventory of the wetlands and other surface waters of all California’s coastal HUC-8 watersheds, including the inland Delta of the San Francisco Estuary, to help implement the OPC’s 2020-2025 Strategic Plan. The inventory will include a dashboard and other online tools that enable the OPC and the public to track progress towards multiple OPC strategic targets, and to more generally summarize information about the current distribution, abundance, diversity, and condition of surface waters for user-defined areas of California coastal watersheds. The new inventory is intended to meet non-regulatory information needs to support habitat protection and restoration.

Why is the coastal inventory needed?

The inventory will provide a standard regional approach to wetland classification and mapping to support wetland restoration planning, tracking, and reporting. It will facilitate implementation of the California Wetland and Riparian Areas Monitoring Plan (WRAMP) in watersheds draining directly to the California coast.

What is its strategic importance?

All aspects of the inventory are designed to help implement the OPC’s 2020-2025 Strategic Plan. While the inventory most directly addresses Objective 1.1 to build resiliency to sea-level rise, coastal storms, erosion, and flooding, it has a nexus with many other OPC goals and objectives. The inventory will help to:

  • Track net change and identify surface waters threatened by sea level rise (OPC Targets 1.1.4-1.1.7)
  • Provide tools to visualize surface waters threatened by sea level rise (OPC Target 1.3.1)
  • Identify beaches and eelgrass beds (OPC Targets 3.1.3-3.1.4)
  • Provide spatial frame for modeling watershed yields of sediment (OPC Targets 3.1.5-3.1.6)

All technical aspects of the inventory will be advised by a new statewide wetland mapping committee of the California Wetland Monitoring Workgroup (CWMW) and integrated into the California Aquatic Resource Inventory (CARI). 

The project will yield crosswalks among regional aquatic resource classification systems, allowing inventories to be compiled across regions. The results will enable all interests to assess regional and coast-wide net change in the distribution, abundance, diversity, and condition of the resources, in the context of population growth and climate change.

What are the project objectives?

The inventory will meet the following three objectives:

  1. Establish a basemap and online procedures to track changes in the abundance, distribution, diversity, and condition of surface waters for California’s coastal watersheds. The resulting inventory will support the California state and federal watershed-based approaches to water quality control, impact avoidance and mitigation to coastal resources, and climate change adaptation. 
  2. Support coordinated climate adaptation by coastal communities. The inventory will have sufficient detail and accuracy to support regional adaptation planning, especially for resilient aquatic resource protection and restoration. For example, the inventory will add value to, and incorporate qualified existing data from regional adaptation programs, such as the Southern California Wetlands Recovery Project, San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority, and California EcoRestore of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
  3. Create community capacity to update the inventory as needed. An inventory of this extent and complexity cannot meet all the information needs of regional and local interests. However, many of these interests have a wealth of information that can be used to enrich and improve the inventory for important local uses, including project planning and permitting, education, and research. This inventory will set the stage for future two-way data and technology transfers between local or regional interests and the coastwide inventory, using Project Tracker and the CARI online editor.

How will the coastal inventory be developed?

  • The inventory will be advised by the new Statewide Mapping Committee of the CWMW. The committee includes wetland mapping experts from regional, state, and federal agencies, the private and NGO sectors, and academia. To ensure its relevance and plan for the future, the committee will include experts in the rapidly developing methods of remote sensing and automated mapping. 
  • The inventory will be developed using the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) of CARI. The CARI SOP includes a rigorous, detailed, stepwise procedure for utilizing various input data, including digital imagery, elevation models, LiDAR, existing maps and other kinds of ancillary data to meet standardized requirements for map detail and spatial accuracy. The SOP may be modified, however, based on the advice of the mapping committee, for example, to incorporate automated mapping techniques and limitations.
  • The inventory will be used to update CARI as the basemap for EcoAtlas and its statewide tool set, including Project Tracker and the Mitigation Planning Tool, as well as other tools produced by regional partners for their specific uses. The inventory will be an integral part of the growing initiative to use EcoAtlas to coordinate aquatic resource  protection and restoration across programs at all levels of government. Several existing data sources will be incorporated into the inventory, including:
    • National Wetlands Inventory 
    • National Hydrography Dataset
    • Bay Area Aquatic Resource Inventory
    • Delta Aquatic Resource Inventory
    • North Coast Aquatic Resource Inventory
    • Bay Area Beaches
    • Bar-built Estuaries
    • CalVeg
    • CDFW Eelgrass Surveys
    • CNDDB Dunes
    • Humboldt Dunes
    • NERR Data (Elkhorn Slough, San Francisco Bay, Tijuana River)
    • NOAA Eelgrass Surveys
    • Pacific Marine Estuarine Fish Habitat Partnership Eelgrass Surveys
    • VegCAMP
    • Witham et al. Vernal Pools

What are potential future phases?

Potential future phases of this project could include:

  • incorporate with sea level rise projections and regional restoration plans
  • integrate with flooding and sea level rise modeling
  • transfer mapping capacity to coastal agencies and communities
  • support regional coordinated climate adaptation efforts
2020 to 2022
Justine Kimball, OPC
Maria Rodriguez, OPC
Kathryn Beheshti, OPC
Megan Williams, OPC
Programs and Focus Areas: 
Environmental Informatics Program
Geographic Information Systems
Software Engineering
Wetland Monitoring & Assessment
Location Information
General Project Location(s): 
Coastal California