A vast watershed connects the mountain streams surrounding California’s Central Valley with San Francisco Bay and the ocean beyond. Over the course of the last two centuries, much of the natural productivity, biodiversity and ecological integrity of the watershed has been destroyed by modifying the environment without fully understanding the long-term environmental consequences. Long the site of some of the nation’s most intensive conflicts over the use of land and water resources, this system is now emerging as the focus of one of the most ambitious ecological restoration efforts ever undertaken in the United States.
This report was designed to provide a coherent and defensible ecological framework and information base for restoration. The need for such an historical, broad-scale perspective on system ecology stems from two fundamental principles of ecological restoration – the need to manage toward a natural template and to manage at ecosystem and landscape levels.