About EcoAtlas

The California EcoAtlas provides free public access to information about the quantity and quality of California wetlands. EcoAtlas enables integration of information to provide landscape context for consideration of wetland extent and condition.

EcoAtlas provides three categories of information as called for in the California Wetland Monitoring Workgroup’s Tenets of a State Wetland and Riparian Monitoring Program (WRAMP). These three information categories are consistent with the USEPA’s Level 1‐2‐3 framework for monitoring and assessment of wetland resources.

Maps and spatial information

Interactive, detailed maps of aquatic resources extent (streams, wetlands, riparian areas, and special habitats such as eelgrass) are available as data layers. Existing aquatic resources based on California Aquatic Resource Inventory (CARI) are displayed as the default data layer on the interactive map.

EcoAtlas is a tracking tool for restoration project activity and provides detailed information and boundaries for restoration and mitigation projects across California.

General wetland condition information

California Rapid Assessment Method (CRAM) ambient and project survey results, as well as reference network sites, are served through an interactive map. CRAM assessment details, including index, metric and attribute scores, visit dates, assessment area boundaries, and related documents are viewable and can be downloaded.

Specific condition information

EcoAtlas displays detailed condition data on water and sediment toxicity from various studies throughout the State. These data are provided by California Environmental Data Exchange Network (CEDEN) so users may view water quality data relevant to wetland condition.

Reporting and synthesis tools

In addition to aggregating data from various sources, EcoAtlas offers several data synthesis and visualization tools for reporting information at different scales. These tools are described in more detail in the sections below.

Information about the data sources used on this site is available on the Data page.

CARI Editor Tool

Bayshore footage copyright 2015, California Department of Transportation, all rights reserved.

The CARI Editor enables individuals to submit suggested updates, deletions or additions of stream and wetland features classified in the California Aquatic Resource Inventory (CARI). CARI serves as the common statewide map in EcoAtlas and was developed using the best available data sources, including several different map intensification efforts that standardized the level of detail for aquatic resources based on similar mapping protocols. It is important to have the mapped aquatic resources as accurate as possible, since amounts are summarized in various reports and the Landscape Profile Tool.

The CARI Editor accepts small scale edits at the feature level, such as an individual stream segment or polygon for a specific wetland type. To submit a shapefile that contains multiple features, please contact [email protected] for instructions. The process for incorporating suggested edits is still under development. An email notification is sent to acknowledge receipt of the request and suggestions are logged into a tracking system. However, the frequency of the review and processing of edits is dependent upon available resources.

For more information contact [email protected].

Cumulative Distribution Functions

A cumulative distribution function (CDF) of CRAM scores represents the relative abundance of wetland conditions within the geographic extent of one or more probabilistic surveys using CRAM. CDFs can be developed for any geographic extent, from projects to watersheds, regions and statewide.

CRAM CDFs are being developed for California’s ecoregions. An ecoregional CRAM CDF can be used to compare different areas of one wetland type to each other and the whole ecoregion. The comparison is made by plotting the CRAM scores for selected Assessment Areas (AAs) on the x-axis of the ecoregional CDF and determining the corresponding y-axis values representing the percent of the ecoregion with the same or lower score. For example, a y-axis value of 40% for a selected AA means that 40% of that wetland type in the ecoregion is likely to have the same or lesser condition than the selected AA. Conversely, 60% of the wetland type is likely to have an equal or higher condition. Using an ecoregional CDF, different AAs can be compared to each other and to ecoregional conditions based on their y-axis values.

In 2016, ecoregional CDFs were developed for riverine wetlands. Data for the South Coast riverine CDF were provided by the Southern California Stormwater Monitoring Coalition Program (SCCWRP #844). Data for five other ecoregional riverine CDFs were provided by the Perennial Stream Assessment Program. Ecoregional CDFs will be developed for other ecoregions and wetland types as the necessary data become available.

Riverine CDFs are included in the CRAM and CSCI Landscape Profile Tool and are available in the following ecoregions: Bay/Delta, Klamath/North Coast, Modoc, Sacramento Valley, Sierra and South Coast.

Dashboards

EcoAtlas dashboards summarize information provided by Project Tracker and the California Aquatic Resource Inventory (CARI). These dynamic visualizations help measure the cumulative benefits of public policies and programs designed to conserve California's wetlands and other aquatic resources.

The dashboards are generated by dynamic queries of data that are refreshed weekly. Projects that are missing key information are excluded from the queries. The dashboards help prioritize efforts to fill information gaps to better account for the public investment in aquatic resource conservation. Existing projects get included as their data gaps are filled. New projects are continually being added by their sponsors. The overall map of projects reveals their concentration in regions of the state where wetland conservation has been better supported or most needed.

Learn how to use the EcoAtlas dashboards in this video tutorial.

Habitat Development Curves

Wetland Habitat Development Curves (HDCs) are used to evaluate the rate of habitat development for restoration and mitigation projects, and how they compare to other projects of the same age and habitat type, based on the California Rapid Assessment Method (CRAM). HDCs have been developed for the CARI wetland types of estuarine and depressional using existing CRAM assessments from wetlands across California. Each curve represents the average rate of development bounded by its 95% Confidence Interval (CI), plus the average condition and 95% CI for the reference sites. Projects that are well-designed for their location and setting, and well-managed tend to be on or above the curve. In general, as projects age, their habitats should mature, gaining similarity to the reference sites, such that the project’s CRAM scores increase.

HDCs can help determine the developmental status and trajectory of on-the-ground projects to create, restore, or enhance California wetland and stream habitats. Project managers can use the curves to guide the design or management of the habitat area in ways that will sustainably increase its score(s) for the low-scoring CRAM Attribute(s).

HDCs are available in a separate tab on the Project Information Page and are only visible when a project has a recorded construction end date (groundwork end date), and estuarine or depressional CRAM assessments within the project boundaries in the statewide CRAM database. As additional funding becomes available, HDCs can be developed for other wetland types.

Landscape Profile Tool

The Landscape Profile Tool summarizes ecological information at various spatial scales for assessment, planning, and reporting.

Based on the user-specified area of interest, the tool generates graphical summaries of the following data sources:

Landscape

  • abundance and diversity of existing aquatic resources based on California Aquatic Resource Inventory (CARI);
  • abundance and diversity of historical aquatic resources and terrestrial plant communities
  • survey and project summary statistics for eelgrass aquatic resources
  • vegetation cover and terrestrial habitats from CALVEG
  • ecological restoration and long-term net change based on Habitat Projects
  • percent of hydric soils and soil taxonomies based on SSURGO
  • species of special status (both federally and California listed species) based on California Natural Diversity Database (CNDDB)
  • human population based on 2010 Census and language spoken at home based on the 2008-2012 American Community Survey
  • developed land cover by the 2011 National Land Cover Database (NLCD).

Condition

  • wetland and stream condition based on California Rapid Assessment Method (CRAM)
  • stream condition based on the California Stream Condition Index (CSCI)

Connectivity

  • wetland habitat patch size-distribution based on CARI and historical aquatic resources
  • contributions of completed habitat projects to the wetland habitat patch size-distribution
  • nearest neighbor distance for wetland habitat patches based on CARI

Users have several options for determining their area of interest. These include using USGS StreamStats to delineate an upstream catchment from a pour point; drawing and editing a polygon through a series of map clicks; selecting a pre-defined area for a congressional district, county, or hydrologic region (HUC8, HUC10, HUC12); or uploading an existing KML or Esri shapefile.

Users may view a Landscape Profile in a pop-up box or print a detailed PDF report that also includes background information on each of the data sources.

Tracking Long-term Net Change in Wetland Quantity

When the data are available in Project Tracker to generate the charts for the selected area of interest, the Long-term Net Change charts are included in the Ecological Restoration based on Habitat Projects section of the Landscape Profile Report. These charts illustrate a comprehensive picture of net change in the total area of each wetland type, as defined by the California Aquatic Resource Inventory, due to permitted projects in the area of interest. Data from Project Tracker is used to calculate gains by summing acres of restoration/re-establishment and creation/establishment projects, either compensatory or voluntary, and losses by summing acres of permitted permanent losses. Wetland enhancement and rehabilitation projects are excluded from these calculations because they affect wetland quality rather than quantity.

Released in 2016, Project Tracker is used voluntarily across agencies, and therefore the impacts may be underrepresented and incomplete. Currently, the San Francisco Bay, North Coast, and Lahontan Water Boards require applicants to enter permitted impacts into Project Tracker. Data do not include projects permitted before 1979. Summaries include only permitted impacts and not other natural, unpermitted, or unregulated changes. Dates of the gains and losses are based on project start dates uploaded to Project Tracker. The calculations are inexact due to occasional misclassification of quality changes as quantity changes. The completeness of this information will improve over time as more agencies require the use of Project Tracker and other data sources are integrated into the charts.

Performance Measures Reporting

Many programs call for the careful tracking and reporting of restoration or mitigation efforts. Nevertheless, sharing data related to such projects across agencies in a coordinated fashion remains a challenge.

Data entry forms within Project Tracker allow for the standardized collection of information on target and actual performance measures for projects. Progress towards meeting performance measures is reported in a project’s information page.

Learn how to enter and track project performance measures in this video tutorial.

Project Tracker

EcoAtlas tracks planned activities that modify habitat, such as wetland or stream restoration, mitigation, or habitat conservation. Projects are viewable on the interactive map and summarized in individual project pages. Project information is available for the San Francisco Bay Area, Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, North Coast, Central Coast, South Coast, and Lake Tahoe area. New projects can be uploaded using the Project Tracker data entry forms. Project details can be entered online and accessed by environmental managers, planners, and stakeholders to inform wetland management and planning decisions. An easy-to-use mapping tool enables project managers to draw project sites using aerial imagery or upload an existing map file of the project site.

Public information is available on EcoAtlas where projects can be viewed on a common base map to help inform wetland management and planning decisions. Each project is assigned to an administrative region whose managers assist with reviewing information for completeness and accuracy before approving a project for display on EcoAtlas.

The Lahontan, North Coast and San Francisco Bay Regional Water Boards have formally adopted the use of Project Tracker and require applicants for 401 Certifications and Waste Discharge permits to upload project information into Project Tracker.

Project Information Page (PIP)

Each PIP includes information on the project’s location, type (mitigation or non-mitigation), identification numbers, habitat plan, site status, restoration events, contacts, funding sources, and performance measures. If available, related habitat impacts and CRAM assessments are also summarized.

Files & Links

Project Tracker serves as a repository for files and web links. A project’s file library provides access to reports, data, photos, videos, and other files related to a project. Project managers and members of the public can submit reports and project-related files to share with others.

Project Maps

When available, project maps and site boundaries are displayed on EcoAtlas. In a few cases, information on a project’s size and general location is known, but a detailed boundary has not been provided. In such cases, the project is mapped as a dashed circle, centered on the project’s location, and with a size equal to the known project area. These dashed circle approximations provide EcoAtlas users a visual representation of a project’s size and location, and are replaced with an actual boundary when this information becomes available.

Site Mitigation Tool

The EcoAtlas Site Mitigation Tool (Mitigation Tool) can be used for prioritizing, planning, and tracking wetland projects and monitoring efforts in the watershed context. This in turn facilitates compliance with a range of state and federal regulatory procedures. The Mitigation Tool supports the Watershed Approach to compensatory mitigation planning and assessment called for in the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) Procedures for Discharges of Dredged or Fill Material to Waters of the State (Procedures) and Section 404(b)(1) Guidelines of the US Clean Water Act. More specifically, this Mitigation Tool is designed to help anyone requesting a Section 401 Certification in California and for the staff of the State Water Board and its Regional Water Quality Control Boards (Regional Water Boards) who process the requests. The Mitigation Tool can also support applicants for permits under section 404(b)(1) of the US Clean Water Act, as well as staff within the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) who process those applications, although the Mitigation Tool is mainly intended to support the Procedures. This Mitigation Tool is consistent with the Wetland and Riparian Area Monitoring Plan (WRAMP) of the CA Water Quality Monitoring Council Council.

Credits

EcoAtlas has been developed through generous funding from the US Environmental Protection Agency and the California State Water Resources Control Board. The California Wetland Monitoring Workgroup (CWMW) provides oversight for the development of content and functionality of EcoAtlas. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Southwest Region, Long Beach office of the Habitat Conservation Division provided funding for the inclusion of the eelgrass data. EcoAtlas was created and developed by the San Francisco Estuary Institute – Aquatic Science Center.

Tool Citation

California Wetlands Monitoring Workgroup (CWMW). EcoAtlas. Accessed [date retrieved]. https://www.ecoatlas.org.