The Interagency Ecological Program (IEP) has been in existence in some form for almost 50 years. As the San Francisco Estuary evolved due to natural and man-caused perturbations, the IEP has responded by creating and re-creating itself to ensure the best understanding of the Estuary as it was influenced by water project implementation. The goal of the IEP has always been to provide this understanding to managers responsible for water project implementation in the most protective and efficient manner given social, political, and environmental constraints. On the whole, IEP has done an outstanding job of providing consistently useful data and information in a highly complex environment.
As new programs and constraints are developed to cope with the ever changing natural environment and demands of society, an understanding of the history of IEP is valuable, and to learn from past experience is wise. This descriptive history is meant to document in some detail the development, strengths, and weaknesses of this one-of-a-kind multi-agency consortium that has attempted to bridge the gap between water management and estuarine science in the most significant Estuary on the west coast of North America.
Sources of information for this account are personal interviews with program participants, annual reports, IEP Newsletters, coordinator meeting summaries, director meeting summaries, management team meeting notes, and personal experiences of the author. This history may err on the side of excessive detail, but that has been intentional; the author believes it is important to have detailed information available in a single reference so that interested parties can readily obtain knowledge about IEP. Some individuals may not want to read the entire report, but can easily be guided to topics of interest by consulting Appendix A, which lists significant events that influenced the IEP by page number in the report.