Ruth Askevold's picture

Ruth Askevold

Program Manager
Resilient Landscapes Program
Historical Ecology
510-746-7341

Ruth Askevold is a Senior Project Manager at the San Francisco Estuary Institute, where she manages the Resilient Landscapes Program. She has over twenty years of experience in geographic information systems, remote sensing, and cartography. Her experience includes project management, spatial analysis, and information design. Ruth is also trained in graphic and cartographic design, working as a senior designer for Lonely Planet Publications. She is experienced in using historical maps and photographs to assist in visualizing the past, and designs historical ecology publications and educational material at SFEI. She has provided consultation and developed exhibit content for the Exploratorium and the Oakland Museum of California. She received her master's degree from San Francisco State University in Geography and Human Environmental Studies, where she specialized in geographic information systems and historical geography.

Related Projects, News, and Events

Napa Valley Historical Ecology Atlas (Project)

The Napa Valley Historical Ecology Atlas takes readers on a richly illustrated tour of the iconic Napa Valley landscape from 200 years ago to the present and future.

Using the pioneering SFEI Historical Ecology approach, the Atlas challenges many preconceived notions about the nature of California landscapes, and suggests strategies to increase the health and resilience of local watersheds based on an understanding of how natural systems function. The Atlas is designed to support a broad range of local efforts for ecological restoration and watershed stewardship in Napa Valley, while providing a new and accessible model for historical ecology studies in other regions.

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

Building Cities to Better Support Biodiversity (News)

Erica Spotswood and a team of other SFEI scientists have developed a framework outlining the key elements for supporting biodiversity in urban environments. 

SFEI maps native languages of the Bay for the Exploratorium (News)

The Exploratorium is displaying a map and essay developed by SFEI depicting the diversity, distribution, and people associated with the indigenous languages of the Bay Region. Chuck Striplen assembled existing information on the Bay’s languages and associated peoples; along with a description of the methods and background of linguistic reconstructions. This information appeared both on a large format map and in an accompanying essay.

Alameda Creek Historical Ecology Study (Project)

The Alameda Creek Historical Ecology Study assesses watershed conditions prior to significant Euro-American modification, as a basis for understanding subsequent changes in watershed structure and function, and potential options for future environmental management. The geographic focus is the floodplains, valleys, and alluvial plains adjacent to Alameda Creek (to the diversion dam) and its tributaries. This includes the Livermore and Amador valleys, Sunol Valley and Niles Canyon, and the Niles cone and adjoining baylands. A pilot portion of the project also focuses on documenting landscape changes in the uplands of the San Antonio Creek watershed.

The Adapting to Rising Tides Bay Shoreline Flood Explorer, developed by SFEI

BCDC GIS, Graphics, and Technological Services (Project)

The San Francisco Estuary Institute is working to provide support for the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) though Geographical Information Systems (GIS), Graphics, and Technological Services.

Care in the Time of Corona (News)

We offer you a simple tool that we created for our 75-person “work community” to help each other that yours might also find helpful. This is a mapping tool, which we call Care in the Time of Corona. It helps us locate and efficiently provide the support that our SFEI staff might offer one another. Quite simply, it facilitates assistance within our organization so that people can help their colleagues deal with challenges of this unprecedented situation. The errands, food, medicine, or even compassionate discussion they need can be addressed through a convenient and filterable map. We hope this guidance and the spirit behind it will help support your community and sustain a sense of well-being as we meet this challenge head on together.

Working with Nature to Adapt San Francisco Bay’s Shoreline for Sea Level Rise (News)

Impacts from sea level rise and combined flooding are increasing along S.F. Bay’s shoreline. To address this challenge, scientists and decision makers must re-envision and adapt the varied, 300-mile shoreline to provide greater resilience for people and the environment.  A critical tool for this process is a science-based understanding of where nature-based solutions and land-use policies can provide multiple benefits and resilient, adaptive ecosystems.

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.

SFEI and Google share Award for Re-Oaking (News)

SFEI and Google have won the Arnold Soforenko Award from the non-profit Canopy for significant contributions to the urban forest. The award is for our work on Re-Oaking Silicon Valley: Building Vibrant Cities with Nature.

The award ceremony was held at Palo Alto City Hall on January 25, 2018.

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.

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.

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.

SFEI work on Landscape Resilience and Urban Biodiversity featured in Google Blog and Fast Company Story (News)

Our partnership with Google to enhance the ecological resilience of urban landscapes is featured in a story by Fast Company, a Google Blog post, and an accompanying video.

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.

San Francisquito Creek Baylands Landscape Change Analysis (News)

SFEI recently completed a landscape change analysis of lower San Francisquito Creek in the South Bay. The study was conducted as part of the larger Flood Control 2.0 project to increase regional flood protection will improving ecological diversity.  This particular project   illustrated the change in creek and bayland habitat conditions over the past 150 years.