Protecting and Restoring the Morro Bay Estuary.
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Morro Bay National Estuary

Understanding Eelgrass Decline and Evaluating Restoration Activities

Restoration Projects Manager, Jen Nix (on right) readies materials for our eelgrass seed dispersal project.

  Morro Bay’s eelgrass beds are a critical resource. They provide food and shelter to many plants and animals, including juvenile rockfish, steelhead trout, various shorebirds and waterfowl, and the southern sea otter. Eelgrass also helps to improve water quality. It increases water clarity, produces oxygen, sequesters carbon, and absorbs excess nutrients. Studies have shown that eelgrass is also capable of removing toxic contaminants from marine sediments. Unfortunately, eelgrass beds are diminishing worldwide. Nearly ¼ million acres of eelgrass have been lost globally over the last 30 years. This rate is comparable to losses reported for mangroves, coral reefs, and …

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Assessing the quality of aquatic habitats with CRAM

A small waterfall with healthy Poison Oak (Toxidendron rydbergii) pictured in the foreground, growing along Chorro Creek. Poison oak is a native plant that some consider beautiful.

  The California Rapid Assessment Method, or CRAM for short, is used to determine ecosystem quality for aquatic habitats. These habitats include wetlands, rivers, estuaries, and lakes. The Morro Bay National Estuary Program has used the CRAM assessment both before and after habitat restoration projects throughout the Morro Bay watershed to monitor habitat improvements over time. This method involves evaluating stretches of streams for their vegetation, stream bed complexity, bank stability, and the health of the surrounding ecosystem. To truly determine how healthy a stretch of stream is, you have to get your feet wet! Estuary Program staff have recently …

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Fire and the Morro Bay National Estuary

A harbor seal rests in the bay, beneath a sky full of smoke. Photograph by Ruth Ann Angus, August, 1994.

  This week’s fire on the Cuesta Grade comes almost exactly 21 years after the devastating Highway 41 fire of August 1994. Ruth Ann Angus, local photographer, writer, and long-time supporter of the Estuary Program, was out kayaking on the bay with a friend when the Highway 41 blaze began. As Ruth Ann recalls, “We paddled all the way back to Sweet Springs and as we turned around there, I spotted the puff of smoke in the sky. I knew it was bad so we immediately began paddling back to the Marina area….” She took photos on the way back …

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Learn about the Morro Bay estuary with our staff

A group of students note the plants and animals they've seen on a walk through the elfin forest.

  With the start of the new school year just around the bend, it’s an exciting time for teachers and students alike. Estuary Program staff are excited about the school year, too. Education and outreach have always been an essential part of our mission, and our staff members work routinely with students and other interested groups to teach them about our bay and watershed. Recently, we have worked with a wide range of interested parties including college students from both Cal Poly and UCSB who are studying science, a group of girl scouts who traveled across the county to see …

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Saturday Scientists at the Morro Bay Museum of Natural History

Even the docents get involved. Christine Lanier (left) and Cheryl Powers (right) look at flowers under a dissecting scope during the “Mayflowers” Saturday Scientists program, which is typically held near Mother’s Day each year. Photograph courtesy of the Morro Bay Natural History Museum.

  Have you ever seen a toe-biter or a mayfly magnified to 30 times its normal size? Have you examined the root of an onion so closely that you could observe cells dividing in its root cap? Have you gotten a bee’s view of pollen on a flower stamen? If so, odds are that you’ve been to a Saturday Scientists program at the Morro Bay Museum of Natural History. Saturday Scientists has been an institution at the museum for the past four years. These engaging two-hour-long programs draw in curious locals and visitors alike to examine specimens from the natural …

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Make a Day for the Bay Profile: Wendy Disch

One of Wendy's hauls. Photo courtesy of Wendy Disch.

  This summer and fall, the Morro Bay National Estuary Program is asking everyone who enjoys the estuary to Give a Day for the Bay to help keep it clean and healthy for all of us. We’ve worked with our partners to put together a variety of volunteer service activities for you to participate in. We also encourage you to Make a Day for the Bay by creating your own bay-friendly service activity at home. In order to inspire you, we’ve invited Wendy Disch, owner of éphé mer handmade beach apparel on the Embarcadero, to tell how she takes care …

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Preserving Today’s Morro Bay for the Future

City of Morro Bay Mayor, Jamie Irons (in blue shirt on left), poses with members of the Historical Society of Morro Bay and the Morro Bay 50th Celebration Committee at the time capsule site. A plaque commemorating the event will be installed on the large rock that sits over the capsule.

  In July of 2014, Morro Bay celebrated 50 years as an incorporated city and 150 years as a town. Residents enjoyed a full year of fun-filled events to commemorate this special anniversary. Many of these events focused on the natural beauty of Morro Bay. Participants took a New Year’s Day hike that started at Morro Rock, set out on two wheels for an eco-friendly Historical Bike Tour, planted trees at the Monarch Mixer, participated in a volunteer cleanup, and more. When the celebration came to a close last Friday, July 17, it made its own mark on history: the …

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Give a Day for the Bay

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    Anyone who has visited the Morro Bay National Estuary knows that it’s a special place. It offers beautiful views, a wide range of recreational opportunities, delicious seafood, and critical habitat for diverse plant and wildlife species—many of which can’t be found anywhere else. In order to give back, we’re asking everyone who loves the estuary—locals and visitors alike, to Give a Day for the Bay. That is, to donate time to help keep Morro Bay clean and healthy for all of us. How to get involved Give a Day for the Bay is a volunteer campaign that stretches …

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Keeping it Clean – Our New Video “Clean Water, Great Life”

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Morro Bay is a unique place that is dear to many of our hearts. We value it for different reasons—fun on the water, delicious seafood, our livelihood, or even its restful views. All of this is made possible by clean water. The work of the Estuary Program is to protect this special place for many generations to come. As part of this effort, the Estuary Program conducts monitoring activities throughout the bay and watershed to track long-term trends in water quality. One parameter we track regularly is the level of bacteria in the bay. Volunteers venture to eight sites each …

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Bay-Friendly Summer Barbecues

  Summer is the season of barbecues, and—whether you’re having a few friends over to grill out back, or meeting a big group at the beach—there are some steps you can take to make your get-together friendlier for the bay.     Reduce waste Reducing solid waste is good for the estuary, since all manmade debris that ends up in the estuary originates on land.   Choose reusable silverware, dishes, and cups. Instead of purchasing plastic or paper, use dishes and silverware from home, or ask your guests to bring their own. Reusable dishes will stay where you put them, …

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