Feb Presentation ~ SR Plain Historical Ecology

Laguna WetlandSpeaker Bio – Dr. Chuck Striplen has worked as an Environmental Scientist at the San Francisco Estuary Institute (SFEI) for 13 years, specializing in the fields of historical ecology and cultural landscapes.
SFEI is a non-profit research and monitoring organization working at a state-wide level, and staffs a Joint Powers Authority called the Aquatic Science Center (ASC). Dr. Striplen received his MS and PhD in Environmental Science, Policy, and Management from UC Berkeley. 

The topic of discussion will be the “Santa Rosa Plain Historical Ecology Initiative” – through which, in partnership with the Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation, we’re working to develop historical information on the form and function of the SR Plain’s creeks, wetlands, and terrestrial environments to inform management and restoration of these important systems.laguna estuary

Historical ecology has come to represent an important contribution to watershed planning and restoration across the state – providing critical information about our watersheds’ underlying physical processes and patterns, often masked by the passage of time and dramatic historic changes.

The SFEI/Laguna Foundation team is working closely with local agencies and archives to compile this information, and local residents are welcome to contribute their own history, photos, maps, and narratives to the process.

The Laguna de Santa Rosa (Laguna) watershed spans 256 square miles and supports a unique complex of biologically diverse ecosystems.

Containing the urban centers of Santa Rosa, Sebastopol, Cotati, Rohnert Park, and Windsor, the Laguna watershed encompasses one of the largest floodplains in California.Laguna map

Historically the Laguna watershed supported a diverse ecosystem consisting of oak savanna/vernal pool complexes, riparian forest, emergent and off channel wetlands, and open water.

The Laguna has been intensively modified, yet it still supports 19 species federally listed as threatened or endangered including the California tiger salamander (Ambystoma californiense), California red-legged frog (Rana aurora draytonii), and Chinook and Coho salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha and Oncorhynchus mykiss).

Laguna main channel and surrounding floodplain were recently designated as a Wetland of International Importance (Ramsar Convention), joining less than 30 other sites in the nation to receive this significant global recognition. The Laguna watershed is a critical ecological, economic, and recreational resource in the region. Typical of many communities in the San Francisco Bay area and throughout California, the watershed faces the challenges of sustaining agricultural production, accommodating expanding populations, promoting watershed and wetland conservation, and mitigating historic and continued anthropogenic impacts. A range of efforts are currently underway to preserve and enhance the natural heritage of the area.

Additional Background info: 
He is also currently a Visiting Scholar in Anthropology at Cal.An avid student of landscape history and Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK), Dr. Striplen adds another layer of complexity to the Historical Ecology Program’s analysis of the physical and ecological characteristics of the region’s wetlands, creeks, and terrestrial habitats prior to major Euro-American colonization. Through the use of early historical documents, oral histories, and other ethno-ecological sources, Dr. Striplen is currently developing a Cultural Landscapes focus area at SFEI, and contributes analyses of Native Californian resource management that shaped the landscape first encountered by European explorers. Dr. Striplen joined SFEI’s Historical Ecology Team in 2002.

From 2011, comes an interesting article written about collaborating with a local tribe, in the Pinnacles area.

SFEI collaborates with local Tribe and National Park Service to Reintroduce Native Fire to the Pinnacles

Hundreds of years before Pinnacles National Monument became preserved open space, it was heavily used as a resource for basket-making. The native deergrass and white root sedge were valuable materials to the Amah Mutsun tribe, who charred the landscape with controlled fires to promote the re-growth of longer and straighter flower stalks used in coiled baskets.

Read the entire article here.