News Release

Science Panel Begins Job of Examining Pescadero Lagoon Ecosystem

Public Invited to First Meeting, February 27

February 15, 2013

Media Contacts:

Roy Stearns, California State Parks
(916) 654-2270, Roy.Stearns@parks.ca.gov

Sarah Swenty, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
916/414-6571 direct, 530/665-3310 cell, sarah_swenty@fws.gov

Mike Taugher, California Department of Fish and Wildlife
(916) 591-0140, Mike.Taugher@wildlife.ca.gov

Jim Milbury, NOAA Regional Public Information Officer
(562) 980-4006, Jim.milbury@noaa.gov

Flycatcher Glendale AZ

Photo: Sarah Swenty USFWS

Members of the public are invited to learn about, and make comments to, a science panel that has been formed to investigate ecosystem functions and consider recommendations regarding future management actions at Pescadero marsh and lagoon.

The chairman of the panel, John Largier, Ph.D., is an expert in lagoon physical processes from the Bodega Marine Lab, UC Davis. He will meet with interested members of the public on Feb. 27 from 4 – 6 p.m. at the Historic Train Depot located at 110 Higgins Canyon Road in the City of Half Moon Bay. At this public meeting, the role of the science panel will be explained and time will be allotted for interested members of the public to provide comments for the panel’s consideration.

The science panel has been formed to evaluate the physical and biological characteristics of the Pescadero marsh and lagoon in the context of other coastal estuarine systems. The panel consists of seven independent and outside experts that are charged with reviewing existing literature and data related to the Pescadero system and similar estuarine systems in order to draw conclusions about how the lagoon and marsh is functioning.

Flycatcher Glendale AZ

Photo: Sarah Swenty USFWS

The goals of the science panel are to answer key questions and to consider restoration and management actions for the Pescadero marsh and lagoon. Their findings and recommendations to state and federal agencies and to the public are expected later in 2013.

Although the agencies involved in the ecological management of the lagoon recognize that the flooding of Pescadero Road is an important issue for the Pescadero community, these agencies cannot make decisions with regard to that issue and are, therefore, focusing on what they can affect. The science panel, therefore, will not address the community’s flooding issues. Questions related to flooding should be directed to local flood control agencies.

The Pescadero lagoon and marsh system is within Pescadero State Beach and Pescadero Marsh Natural Preserve and is managed by the California Department of Parks and Recreation. For reasons that are not entirely understood, the lagoon had been the site of fish kills for 11 consecutive years prior to 2012. Fish that were killed included steelhead, listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. In addition to steelhead, the Pescadero lagoon and marsh provides important habitat for several other state and/or federal listed species, as well as many non-listed native species, and is an important birding area for San Mateo County.

The formation of this science panel is a joint project of California State Parks, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Restoration Center and National Marine Fisheries Service, Southwest Region.