Experience - Dedication - Precision
California's MPA Network the largest in the nation and one of the largest in the world. It was completed in 2012 through a private-public partnership using a stakeholder driven and science based process. Currently the state and philanthropic partners are focused on the on-going management of the MPA Network to ensure it achieves its conservation goals.
Partners in the MPA Management and Monitoring Program continue an on-going dialogue seeking advice about next steps. I have produced detailed analyses of the founding legislation, supporting management policies and the current science related to MPA performance review for a range of clients.
One product to come out of this deep dive was a white paper on the history of MPA Monitoring in California. I also produced a technical memo summarizing the results of long-term monitoring for sandy beach, intertidal, nearshore rocky reef, mid-depth rocky reef habitats in addition to oceanographic and socioeconomic data collected by other researchers.
Development of sustainable energy is moving full speed ahead in California. This is required for us to make any progress towards slowing climate change impacts. However, many questions remain on what impacts there may be and how they can be avoided.
A recent project for a client lead to a collaboration with several other subject matter experts to develop a peer reviewed paper looking at the potential impacts of floating offshore wind in California.
Further work on this project included creating detailed maps for US waters with relevant layers to help determine species and habitats types to avoid when siting offshore wind. Here is a link to the Gulf of Mexico map.
A letter was also accepted in the journal Science that encourages regulators to lean on the best science available in siting and permitting for offshore wind in California.
Knowledge of existing regulatory frameworks, the latest scientific information and the current policy landscape are a specialty of Castalia Environmental. This is especially important for rapidly changing policy and legislative mandates, such as the greenhouse gas emission reduction and blue carbon strategies in California. Critical decisions are being made about next steps for blue carbon in California and this project helped the client identify specific policy levers and opportunities to advance the use of blue carbon in carbon accounting, the cap-and trade market and as a focus for restoration activities. A comprehensive evaluation of the existing science related to subaquatic vegetation including kelp and eelgrass was part of this technical and scoping report. I used my professional relationships with leading researchers and state agency staff to identify discrete pathways ripe for engagement that will produce meaningful outcomes in the expansion of blue carbon projects in California. This project was on a highly compressed timeline and the resulting report illustrates both the high quality scientific analyses and efficiency of Castalia Environmental.
Castalia Environmental used the latest science avaiable coupled with strong collaboration with California regulators to help advance work on eelgrass protection in California. The California Eelgrass Mitigation Policy (CEMP) provides guidance to state regulatory agencies related to federal laws that require no net loss of eelgrass habitat function. Due to its importance to species managed under the Magnuson Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act and its classification as a special aquatic site under the 404(b)(1) guidelines of the Clean Water Act (40 C.F.R. § 230.43), eelgrass requires strong protections. The CEMP states that “approximately every 5 years, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) intends to evaluate monitoring and survey data collected by federal agencies and action proponents per the recommendations of these guidelines. NMFS managers will determine if updates to these guidelines are appropriate based on information evaluated during the 5-year review.” Through collaborations with NMFS, the California Coastal Commission and Ocean Protection Council a policy brief was created to advance the consideration of an OPC Resolution supporting a substantive update of the CEMP.
Knowledge of existing data sources and the ability to rapidly analyze and summarize scientific information is a specialty of Castalia Environmental. This is especially important for rapidly emerging ocean development, like that of wind energy off California’s coast. Critical decisions are being made and this project helped ensure decision makers had the most accurate and updated information. I used my unique and extensive knowledge of existing monitoring and data to conduct a detailed analysis of the benthic habitat and groundfish populations located within the proposed leasing areas. This required data mining of existing sources and spatial analysis using Data Basin. This project was on a highly compressed timeline and the resulting report illustrates both the high quality scientific analyses and efficiency of Castalia Environmental. Click to see the benthic habitat report.
Castalia Environmental capitalized on my deep connection within the scientific community, tailored outreach tools and facilitation skills to partner with The Pew Charitable Trusts to co-host a science forum with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). The Commercial Kelp Management South of Pt. Montara Science Forum provided an opportunity to learn about and discuss the current understanding of kelp science and current kelp conditions south of Point Montara. Leading research scientists presented on recent data collection advances and associated limitations related to the development of a more comprehensive kelp management strategy being developed by the CDFW. The forum brought together commercial kelp harvesters, scientists, CDFW kelp staff, interested Tribes, and other stakeholders to discuss some of the latest science on kelp variability and abundance towards understanding potentially regionally-tailored solutions for kelp management south of Point Montara. The results of the forum are being used by CDFW to inform the development of potential regulatory amendments, the ESR, and kelp management plan. The video of the forum can be found here.
My work as the state of California Marine Protected Area (MPA) Policy Advisor for four years strongly informs and guides the work of Castalia Environmental. I was the lead convening editor and a major contributor to the MPA Monitoring Action Plan. This document guides the on-going monitoring and performance evaluation of California’s network of 124 MPAs. This document summarized the work of dozens of scientists over the last decade and received direct input from a large panel of experts on both the scope and content of the document. I directly lead discussion and work groups to create content related to traditional ecological knowledge, key performance measures and metrics, species selection, existing monitoring and site selection. This document summarizes highly technical and complex data from multiple sources in an accessible way. The primary audience for this document was stakeholders and policy makers. The document was endorsed by the California Fish and Game Commission and the California Ocean Protection Council. My leading role in the creation of this document demonstrates my effective approach to working with partners inside and outside of government to produce an impactful document on time and on budget. Click her to see MPA Action Plan.
Ensuring science directly informs policy creation and implementation is a learned skill that I cultivated during my time as the California Marine Protected Area (MPA) Policy Advisor. I created a white paper focused on linking the latest scientific data on once-through cooling impacts and mitigation to an existing policy to provide context for implementation. This document laid the groundwork for the appropriation of over $20 million to support the MPA Management Program in California. This document was effective because it was concise, scientifically robust and directly linked the science to an existing management framework. Click here to see the OTC white paper.
The Ocean Protection Council Science Advisory Team (OPC-SAT) released this report in June 2018 which provides essential guidance on the scientific principles needed to identify restoration projects that meaningfully offset the impacts of once-through cooling. I conceived and developed the project partnering with the Ocean Science Trust to lead the administration of the Working Group. I was heavily involved in nominating and selecting group members and a key part of my role was identifying the scientific questions that needed to be addressed in order to implement the policy:
I worked directly with the scientists in the working group to ensure discussions remained tightly linked to policy implementation and contributed to the ecological discussions. This report is the framework for the multi-million dollar yearly grant process for OTC. Click here to see the OTC Mitigation Report.