Alison Whipple's picture

Alison Whipple, PhD

Program Science Director
Resilient Landscapes Program
Delta Science & Management
Historical Ecology
Watershed Science & Management
(510) 746-7318

Alison Whipple is Science Director of the Resilient Landscapes Program at the San Francisco Estuary Institute. She has an interdisciplinary background in hydrologic sciences, floodplain restoration, landscape ecology, and climate change. Her work is motivated by the need to support diverse and productive ecosystems in a highly altered and changing world through science-informed land and water management. She completed her PhD in Hydrologic Sciences from the University of California at Davis in 2018, and her research addressed hydrologic and floodplain inundation regime characterization, hydrodynamic modeling, and spatial analysis to understand restoration potential. She worked with the San Francisco Estuary Institute prior to graduate school, focused on historical ecology of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. She received her MS and BS from Stanford University in Earth Systems, with her thesis on low-flow characteristics of small coastal watershed streams of Northern California.

Related Projects, News, and Events

Laguna de Santa Rosa Master Restoration Plan (Project)

The Laguna de Santa Rosa is an expansive freshwater wetland complex that hosts a rich diversity of plant and wildlife species, and is also home to a thriving agricultural community. Since the mid-19th century, modifications to the Laguna and its surrounding landscape have degraded habitat conditions for both wildlife and people.

Sediment Solutions (Project)

Sediment Solutions is a timely and innovative project that builds on SFEI’s past work, operationalizing cutting-edge science to inform management approaches that take advantage of natural processes to provide more creek sediment to baylands, increase climate resilience, and enhance creek health. With study areas in North Bay, East Bay, and South Bay, the project will provide new guidance for management strategies that support flood risk management and ecosystem health benefits throughout the region.

Suisun Landscapes (Project)

The largest brackish marsh on the West Coast, Suisun Marsh is a unique transitional landscape between San Francisco Bay and the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The Marsh supports high ecological diversity and has long been managed for recreational hunting and native species support, yet it is threatened by an uncertain future under climate change. Effective adaptation in Suisun will require coordinated, science-based planning by agencies and private landowners.

Next Generation Urban Greening (Project)

SFEI is working with partners across the Bay Area to design tools to help cities achieve biodiversity, stormwater, and climate benefits through multifunctional green infrastructure.

Preparing for the Storm (Project)

Catalyzed by the extensive damages caused by the Winter 2016-2017 storms and the opportunity to align flood response with major habitat improvement, Preparing for the Storm is an innovative public-private partnership to improve watershed health and resilience in the Alameda Creek watershed.

Restoration Plan for the Laguna de Santa Rosa Completed! (News)

SFEI completed a Restoration Plan for the Laguna de Santa Rosa in the Russian River watershed. SFEI, Sonoma Water, and the Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation worked with technical advisors, stakeholders, tribal representatives, and local landowners to develop the Restoration Plan that provides a restoration planning framework and conceptual designs for  multi-benefit habitat restoration projects that support people and wildlife.

Recently completed “Sycamore Alluvial Woodland Restoration and Enhancement Suitability Study” (News)

The “Sycamore Alluvial Woodland Restoration and Enhancement Suitability Study” addresses distribution and regeneration patterns and restoration strategies of sycamore alluvial woodland (SAW) habitat, a unique and relatively rare native vegetation community adapted to California’s intermittent rivers and streams. The report was produced by SFEI and H. T.

Landscape Scenario Planning Tool (Project)

This project is a tool for planning scenarios of landscape-scale restoration. The tool is designed to inform ongoing and future restoration planning efforts. In particular, this tool will help inform implementation of restoration objectives as described in the Delta Plan, as well as the ongoing Ecosystem Amendment to Chapter 4.

Introducing the Landscape Scenario Planning Tool Version 2.0 (News)

In partnership with the Delta Stewardship Council, the San Francisco Estuary Institute has developed version 2.0 of the Landscape Scenario Planning Tool, a GIS-based analysis toolkit to evaluate user-designed land use and restoration scenarios for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and Suisun Marsh. This free mapping toolbox brings together ten years of science-based research and peer-reviewed methods for California’s Delta-Suisun region. 

Healthy Watersheds Resilient Baylands (Project)

Through the EPA-funded Healthy Watersheds Resilient Baylands project, SFEI and sixteen partner organizations are developing multi-benefit tools to enhance climate change resilience in San Francisco Bay. Healthy Watersheds Resilient Baylands has two major components: Multi-benefit Urban Greening and Tidal Wetlands Restoration. Through both components, we have developed strategies that inform  policy, planning, and design of innovative implementation projects.

Russian River Regional Monitoring Program: Comprehensive Basemap of Surface Waters and Riparian Areas (Project)

This project will build on existing projects funded by the CA State Water Board, Ocean Protection Council, Sonoma Ecology Center, and Sonoma County to produce a basemap of aquatic resources, using the updated Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) of the California Aquatic Resource Inventory (CARI), including at-risk waters and their riparian areas, to support the Russian River Regional Monitoring Program (R3MP). The main tasks of the project are to:

Trees, Hydrology, Urban-Greening, and Nature-Based Solutions (News)

Two key reports support nature-based solutions. Green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) and enhancements to the urban tree canopy offer benefits to stormwater management, urban ecological improvements, and complementary urban greening activities.

On KGO TV, these projects were featured on July 1, 2021.

Sediment for Survival report released (News)

SFEI worked with local, state, and federal science experts to develop the new Sediment for Survival report. The report provides a regional sediment strategy aimed at examining the future of sediment in the Bay and informing sediment management for the resilience of tidal marshes and tidal flats to climate change.

Trees and Hydrology in Urban Landscapes (Project)

Effective implementation of urban greening strategies is needed to address legacies of landscape change and environmental degradation, ongoing development pressures, and the urgency of the climate crisis. With limited space and resources, these challenges will not be met through single-issue or individual-sector management and planning. Increasingly, local governments, regulatory agencies, and other urban planning organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area are expanding upon the holistic, portfolio-based, and multi-benefit approaches.

“Towards a Coarse Sediment Strategy for the Bay Area” completed! (News)

The release of “Towards a Coarse Sediment Strategy for the Bay Area” represents a step forward towards beneficially reusing coarse flood control channel sediment by outlining reuse challenges, and identifying incentives for participation and potential solutions.

Coyote Creek Native Ecosystem Enhancement Tool (Project)

The Coyote Creek Native Ecosystem Enhancement Tool (CCNEET, neet. ecoatlas.org) is an online decision-support tool to identify opportunities to improve ecological conditions. CCNEET was inspired by the need for a watershed approach to environmental resource management. Available ecological and environmental information is synthesized by objectives, management questions, and enhancement actions to identify and justify potential habitat improvements along the creek corridor. The overarching goal of CCNEET is to help coordinate habitat conservation and enhancement along so that multiple projects and limited funding can result in meaningful ecological improvement.

Salmon Habitat Quantification Development (Project)

The Chinook salmon habitat quantification tool is a science-based approach for use by restoration planners to evaluate existing or potential habitat across spatially- and temporally-variable floodplain inundation conditions in the process of planning, designing, and implementing restoration and management activities.

Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Historical Ecology Study (Project)

The San Francisco Estuary Institute-Aquatic Science Center, in collaboration with the California Department of Fish and Game, has completed a historical ecology study of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The project improves understanding of what the Delta looked like and how it functioned prior to the significant modification that has occurred over the last 160 years.https://www.sfei.org/documents/sacramento-san-joaquin-delta-historical-ecology-investigation-exploring-pattern-and-proces

Delta Salmon Rearing (Project)

The objective of this project is to summarize existing research and knowledge around suitable rearing habitat for Chinook salmon in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta; identify areas of suitability for rearing salmon using a combined suitability analysis of four mapped habitat parameters; and to provide recommendations for types of restoration needed to improve or restore rearing habitat, as well as to identify where in the Delta these restoration efforts could be prioritized.

Delta Landscapes Project (Project)

The Delta Landscapes Project, which began in 2012 and will run through 2016, has developed a body of work to inform landscape-scale restoration of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta ecosystem.