Planning for the Future

The Morro Bay National Estuary Program’s work is guided by our Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (Management Plan), which identifies problems (called priority issues) that threaten the ecological and economic resources of the estuary and watershed and defines action plans to effectively reduce those problems. The Estuary Program updates this Management Plan in response to changing conditions in and around the estuary as well as global phenomena like sea level rise. This management plan was updated in 2012 and the Estuary Program is currently finishing work on a new version to be released this year.

In addition to the Management Plan, the Estuary Program uses the latest research and time-tested science to plan for specific projects such as future conservation efforts and responses localized effects of climate change.

Measureable Results
  • Created and updated a Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan to address priority issues for the Morro Bay estuary with input from more than 2,000 stakeholders.
  • Published a Climate Vulnerability Assessment to share essential information about the threats to the Morro Bay estuary, watershed, and wildlife posed by climate change.
  • Created a Conservation Planning Initiative with the help of dozens of expert technical advisors.

2020 Update to Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan

Measureable Results

Updated the Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan to guide the program in working efficiently to address the priority issues facing the bay and watershed for the next five years.

The Morro Bay National Estuary Program’s Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan is evaluated and updated as needed very five years. In 2020, the Estuary Program carefully reviewed the work completed under the existing plan and updated the plan to focus on the next steps to take toward addressing the problems faced by the Morro Bay estuary and watershed. The Estuary Program is in the final stages of updating the plan, which will be released later this year.

Climate Vulnerability Assessment

Measureable Results
  • Publication of a Climate Vulnerability Assessment Report for the Morro Bay estuary and watershed.
  • Identification of ten new risks to the Morro Bay estuary and watershed that climate change will likely bring.
  • Identification and evaluation of 23 adaptation actions that the Estuary Program and partners could take to address the challenges posed by climate change.
  • Identification of 32 partner organizations that could help to mitigate the effects of climate change to the Morro Bay estuary and watershed.

In 2016, the Morro Bay National Estuary Program completed a comprehensive Climate Vulnerability Assessment Report through the EPA’s Climate Ready Estuaries Program. This report identifies the challenges that climate change may pose to the Estuary Program’s ability to meet the watershed goals stated in the Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan and identifies potential adjustments to the action plans laid out to address those goals.

Conservation Planning Initiative

Measureable Results
  • Prioritization of fourteen different watershed issues with the help of seventeen technical advisers.
  • Development of interim measurable targets for watershed vital signs including nutrient and bacteria concentrations in stream systems, instream flow rates, stream temperature, and creek habitat health.
  • Identification of more than fifty projects and thirty assessments to be completed in the Morro Bay estuary and watershed.

Completed in 2018, the Conservation Planning Initiative process had three primary goals: 1) to further prioritize existing priority issues, 2) to establish measurable targets, and 3) to identify specific projects and assessments needed in the watershed. The Morro Bay National Estuary Program reached out to seventeen experts with a range of specialties to gain feedback on these goals.

Morro Bay National Estuary Program brings together citizens, local governments, non-profits, agencies, and landowners to protect and restore the Morro Bay estuary.

Protecting and Restoring the Morro Bay Estuary.