Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions
Click on the headers below for answers to frequently asked questions about WRMP data collection and management; Program status and development; funding; and communications and engagement.
For more, watch the recording of the December 2021 virtual WRMP Open House, organized by the San Francisco Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve.
Credit: Aimee Good
Data Collection and Management
How will the WRMP improve wetland restoration and help address the challenges we’re facing such as climate change, land use practices, and pollution?
One challenge to understanding restoration success and large-scale changes affecting wetlands is the limited ability to compare data across different sites due to differences in monitoring protocols and data management practices. The WRMP will address this challenge by developing protocols that result in comparable data from sites that comprise the WRMP Monitoring Site Network and a portal to store and share data. Analyses conducted by the WRMP may compare success of different restoration techniques, identify threats that are inhibiting success, and inform restoration design and adaptive management recommendations. Monitoring protocols and data will also be publicly available to others who want to use them.
How will the WRMP advance the rate at which we get projects shovel-ready?
While the WRMP can inform several stages of the adaptive management process that support shovel-ready projects, it is not a program directly tied to project implementation. Most of the WRMP’s expected impact will be in the “Evaluate” stage as well as at the final stages post-construction when monitoring begins. As WRMP data are brought into the data management system, those outputs can then directly inform future restoration projects on the ground. The lessons learned regarding the efficacy of restoration designs, evidenced through comparable monitoring, will inform planning to advance the shovel-readiness of proposed projects.
What monitoring is the WRMP currently doing?
Starting in early 2024, the WRMP will conduct limited, initial monitoring to launch data collection and analysis efforts and to develop preliminary products. This initial monitoring provides an opportunity to pilot the program’s technical approach, from conception through data collection, analysis, synthesis, interpretation, management, and communication.
The goals of initial monitoring activities include: 1.) Track restoration progress and measure tidal marsh extent; 2.) Measure marsh function , and 3.) Detect which marshes, if any, are showing early indications of drowning due to sea level rise.
Initial monitoring activities include:
- Conducting regional analyses of wetland extent and characteristics from the Baylands Change Basemap to understand changes in marsh extent.
- Conducting California Rapid Assessment Methods (CRAM) assessments of WRMP Priority Network Sites to establish a baseline understanding of wetland condition.
- Deploying Sediment Elevation Tables-Marker Horizons (SET-MHs) in underrepresented sub-regions and conducting region-wide SET-MH data collection to detect if marshes are drowning.
What is the relationship between the WRMP and the California Wetland Monitoring Workgroup?
The California Wetland Monitoring Workgroup developed a peer-reviewed framework and toolset called Wetland and Riparian Area Monitoring Plan (WRAMP) for use across California to improve the quality and consistency of local and regional wetland monitoring programs. The WRMP’s science framework, as described in the WRMP Program Plan (p. 13) states that recommendations for monitoring indicators, metrics, and methods have all been guided by the WRAMP. Specifically, for statewide consistency, the WRMP draws upon the WRAMP data classification system for wetland monitoring to develop its master matrix of measurement indicators for the Bay Area’s wetlands, which are categorized into three levels:
- Level 1: Regional map-based inventories that collect data across a broad region at the same time
- Level 2: Regional probabilistic surveys that collect certain types of data at representative subsets of sites across a region or sub-region
- Level 3: Site-specific monitoring
How are tidal marsh restoration projects being incorporated into this monitoring effort? Can the WRMP take over for long-term monitoring requirements of tidal marsh restoration projects?
Restoration projects may be incorporated into the WRMP in several ways, including:
- New restoration projects might use data collected by the WRMP at existing restoration projects and established marsh sites to identify target reference conditions for the new project that can be used to evaluate progress.
- Restoration managers can also use WRMP geospatial data, such as the Baylands Change Basemap currently in development, to collect and report information about vegetated habitats at their sites. An updated map of bayland habitats will be available every 5 years.
- Restoration project managers are closely engaged in the WRMP, including participation on the Steering Committee, Technical Advisory Committee, and Workgroups.
- The WRMP is not intended to replace regulatory monitoring requirements in the near term, but may support opportunities to streamline these requirements and to standardize monitoring methods, in the future.
How will the WRMP use the California Rapid Assessment Method (CRAM) for monitoring wetlands?
CRAM is an important part of the WRMP’s planned monitoring protocols and constitutes Level 2 of the WRAMP framework mentioned above. Eventually, the WRMP plans to use CRAM to assess applicable wetland benchmark, reference, and project sites at regular time intervals. The WRMP is also developing standardized ways to assess the San Francisco Bay’s wetland health and resiliency in other ways, including through regional mapping and detailed measurements of the water, animals, and plants at specific wetland sites. For more detailed technical information, see the master matrix of planned WRMP indicators; CRAM is the assessment method to provide data for the WRMP’s Indicator 11, which is a Level 2 assessment (from the State of California’s Wetland Monitoring Workgroup’s Wetland and Riparian Area Monitoring Plan framework).
Will project implementers be expected to conduct additional post-construction monitoring to meet WRMP requirements? Will they be required to fund implementation of the WRMP?
The overall goal of the WRMP is to inform monitoring requirements so that they are more cost effective, inform adaptive management and other stakeholder needs, and reduce the amount of project-level monitoring at any individual site. However, the WRMP does not have authority over post-construction monitoring requirements, which often come from the funder and/or regulatory agencies. One way the WRMP might inform post-construction monitoring requirements is through the development of monitoring questions, indicators, and metrics that address the WRMP Guiding Questions.
Project implementers are not required to fund the WRMP. Depending on adoption of the WRMP resources by regulators and other partners, project implementers might see an option to participate in monitoring requirements through the WRMP or independently.
In the meantime, the WRMP is actively coordinating information sharing with regulating authorities via the Bay Restoration Regulatory Integration Team (BRRIT). This coordination will encourage opportunities for regulatory use of WRMP products.
Will the WRMP data portal be comprehensive and include data from existing programs/databases?
The WRMP data portal is being designed to accommodate and link to data from existing programs and databases. As datasets are prioritized for inclusion based on salience to future analysis, they will be added to the data portal. Furthermore, there will be options for people to upload a file or link to another dataset to minimize the need to enter data in multiple places. In the future, the WRMP will develop a plan for integrating the various datasets into summary reports and visualizations.
Who will manage the data? How will data be collected, archived, and made available for users?
Existing funded efforts are focused on harmonizing existing datasets and developing Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for high priority monitoring activities. WRMP staff (through co-management with SFEI and SFEP) are developing a data portal for users to access relevant current and historical data. WRMP staff will manage the data portal, QA/QC procedures, and other quality control measures. The team will monitor the integration and distribution of data collected. The data portal will also be connected to the Geospatial Data Catalog for sharing and accessing the datasets and related contextual information (metadata). It will also connect to WRAMP tool (see above) for relevant analysis. The data portal will be flexible so that it can be enhanced in the future in different phases of the WRMP. In 2022, the SF Bay Joint Venture and SF Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve supported information transfer activities, including training opportunities for potential data collectors and intended users of the data portal.
Program Status and Development
The WRMP began full implementation with the adoption of the Program Charter in June 2021. In February 2023, the Steering Committee approved the Priority Monitoring Site Network Technical Memo that was prepared by the Technical Advisory Committee. Initial monitoring activities will begin in early 2024. Next steps include developing the Monitoring Plan. This plan will define which Standard Operating Procedures are implemented, where they are implemented, and with what frequency, as well as the information products the WRMP plans to produce.
For data collection, the next steps include continuing to work on the Baylands Change Basemap (estimated completion December 2023), continuing to develop the Geospatial Data Catalog, and finalizing Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for data management and monitoring of an initial set of indicators. SOPs are a set of written protocols that provide detailed monitoring instructions. SOPs describe the technical and operational elements of the WRMP and detail the regularly recurring work processes that are to be conducted or followed within the WRMP. These documents will aid in consistent conformance of monitoring, as well as technical requirements and quality system requirements, that support data quality. The SOP for mapping bayland habitats and transition zones was finalized by the Geospatial Workgroup in December 2022.
How might the program expand in the future?
The core program areas of the WRMP are Program Management, Science Implementation, Data Management, and Communications/Outreach. Work within these areas will continue to expand based on the decisions of the Steering Committee and Technical Advisory Committee, as well as funding availability. Some priority areas the program is currently exploring include:
- Subject-matter expansion to include more than the set of initial indicators that will be implemented in the first three years
- Assessment of broader opportunities for communication and outreach
- Greater inclusion of community-based, Tribal, and equity/environmental justice partnerships
- Improved coordination with monitoring in the Upper Estuary
What are some lessons learned during development of the program?
A few key takeaways from developing the program include:
- Communicate effectively to broader audiences at an earlier stage for added input.
- Engage Tribal representatives earlier in the process.
- Building trust through deliberative engagement is a slow process!
- Identify early wins for the program and find ways to “start small” within a framework of a larger vision.
How will you fund the program?
Sustainable funding is critical to program success. Currently, the program is funded through a broad portfolio of grants and contracts. This includes funding from the US Environmental Protection Agency and SF Bay Restoration Authority. An optional in-lieu monitoring fee is also being considered. More information about funding needs and priorities is laid out in the Funding Strategy.
Communications and Engagement
How do you plan to communicate scientific findings to the science community, policy makers, and the broader public?
We are developing a communications strategy and are interested in hearing ideas from potential users of WRMP data and information about the types of products/forums that would be most useful. Please contact Sasha Harris-Lovett if you would like to provide input ([email protected]). We currently share updates on the WRMP website and through the WRMP Newsletter, which we plan to release quarterly. You can sign up for the Newsletter on the WRMP website.
What opportunities are there for the community to learn about and contribute to wetland restoration?
The WRMP is broadening to include a greater focus on connections between people and wetlands through the People and Wetlands Workgroup. This Workgroup will identify wetland benefits that frontline communities and Tribes value, so that they can be emphasized in future restoration and management, monitored, and shared back to those groups. We are also interested in exploring potential partnerships with community science groups, who involve community members in data collection. We are interested in connecting with community members, Tribes, and community-based organizations on an ongoing basis to learn about areas of interest and discuss ways to get involved. Please contact Alex Thomsen ([email protected]) and Sasha Harris-Lovett ([email protected]) for more information.