The Tomales Bay is on the California coast 40 miles north of San Francisco. Nearly 900 plant species, 490 species of birds, hundreds of invertebrates, and several listed species—including the coho salmon, brown pelican, and Steller Sea Lion—inhabit the bay and its watershed. Past and present human uses have affected the Bay: sedimentation has reduced the Bay’s size, while salmon runs have dropped by 80 percent. The
Bay , Lagunitas, and
Creeks are also impaired because of pathogens, nutrients, sediment, and mercury.
Because of commercial oyster growing activities, the State Health Department requires stringent water quality testing. Recently, that testing led to human health advisories for water contact and fish consumption. An outbreak of illness from human sewage galvanized local action.
The TBWC formed in 2000, following citizen initiatives dating back to the 1980s. Council members agreed to protect the Tomales Bay ecosystem, maintain the watershed’s rural nature and quality of life, use a collaborative approach to sustain agriculture, mariculture, homes, recreation, and natural resources, and to strike the appropriate balance between voluntary and regulatory efforts.
The Council’s broad-based membership represents residential and community groups, agriculture, conservation, mariculture, recreation, public agencies, and interested citizens.