North Bay Climate Adaptation Initiative

Kirsten Feifel
Posted on: 4/08/2010 - Updated on: 11/28/2021

Posted by

Kirsten Feifel

Project Summary

In 2009, a three-day conference was held on strategies for adapting watershed ecosystems to climate change in the San Francisco Bay Area. The conference culminated with the development of the North Bay Climate Adaptation Initiative (NBCAI), a collaborative effort between regional scientists, conservation practitioners, government officials, and interested stakeholders. The goal of the NBCAI is to promote information exchange and research to develop strategies to effectively adapt the North Bay area to climate change.


In October 2009, roughly 150 scientists and resource managers from major San Francisco universities, national, state, and local agencies, conservation and environmental groups, and other interested stakeholders attended a three-day conference titled “Meeting the Challenge – Strategies for Adapting Watershed Ecosystems to Climate Change.” This conference was convened to bring together regional interests to assess knowledge about climate change impacts within the area, determine possible ways to prepare for these impacts, and identify knowledge gaps in regards to impacts and adaptation strategies. In particular, the conference focused on how to downscale global and regional climate models to a local, ecologically meaningful scale and how to satisfy both economic and ecological interests through land management and conservation.

The conference was targeted towards groups and individuals that were working in restoration and land management. Each day of the three-day conference was given a theme. Day 1 focused on impacts of climate change, Day 2 on response strategies, and Day 3 on actions to implement strategies. Topical lectures were presented and round-table discussions were interspersed throughout the day to promote ingenuity, open communication, and collaboration. The resulting synthesize daily events and results of the conference. One of the many notable outcomes of the conference was the creation of the North Bay Climate Adaptation Initiative (NBCAI).


Members of the NBCAI are natural resource managers, scientific experts, and community leaders dedicated to developing a collaborative approach to reducing the impacts climate change will have on the North San Francisco Bay Area (e.g., Marin, Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino, and Lake Counties). Some of the core leadership include the Sonoma Ecology Center, Pepperwood Preserve, Laguna Foundation, Gold Ridge Resource Conservation District, and Point Blue. NBCAI members plan to implement effective climate adaptation strategies that sustain natural and human communities of North Bay watersheds by preserving the quantity and quality of natural resources and ecosystem services, and by protecting and enhancing biodiversity and ecosystem function.

The actions and outcomes of the NBCAI working groups were designed to be the conduit for implementing this vision. Each of the NBCAI working groups articulate distinct but complementary purposes:

  1. The Science & Technology Working Group creates collaborations that enhance understanding of local climate variability and its effects on natural and agricultural systems, and aims to provide those making land and resource management decisions in the North Bay region the information, methods, and guidance needed to address the challenges of climate change.
  2. The Habitat Conservation & Stewardship Working Group builds collaborations to develop and implement innovative and proven strategies for habitat restoration and management in North Bay ecosystems that promote ecosystem services and biodiversity in a changing climate.
  3. The Policy Working Group connects North Bay decision-makers with informational resources and technical experts to support effective, integrated planning for sustainable use of Sonoma County’s changing natural resources.

Outcomes and Conclusions

One of the goals of the NBCAI is to promote information sharing throughout the North Bay area. To meet this goal, NBCAI has linked with the San Francisco Bay Area Conservation Commons, a data sharing platform to maximize information exchange. NBCAI initially focused its efforts within Sonoma County in the hopes that effective solutions can later be exported to neighboring counties. NBCAI has also worked with local landowners and governments to promote land connectivity and sustainable restoration.

In 2015, NBCAI had a hand in hosting the Sonoma County Climate Adaptation Workshop, which brought together representatives from nongovernmental organizations, local and state agencies, and businesses to discuss strategies to increase awareness of and prepare for climate change impacts. Outcomes include a Roadmap for Climate Resilience in Sonoma County published in 2016. NBCAI, the Sonoma County Regional Climate Protection Authority, and the Pepperwood Preserve’s Terrestrial Biodiversity Climate Change Collaborative launched the Climate Ready North Bay partnership, which is a collaborative project to provide downscaled data to local decision-makers.


Feifel, K. (2021). North Bay Climate Adaptation Initiative [Case study on a project of the North Bay Climate Adaptation Initiative, Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation, Pepperwood Foundation, and PRBO Conservation Science]. Version 2.0. Product of EcoAdapt’s State of Adaptation Program. Retrieved from CAKE: (Last updated April 2021)

Project Contacts

Affiliated Organizations

The North Bay Climate Adaptation Initiative is a group of natural resource managers and ecologists formed during the 2009 State of the Laguna Conference. Members are experts and community leaders from a range of natural resource science and management fields critical to understanding the climate adaptation challenge and options for action. Three working groups arose from the conference, representing the science, policy, and stewardship aspects of responding to climate change.

Founded in 1989, the Laguna Foundation is a place-based organization focused on the Laguna de Santa Rosa, one of Sonoma County’s unique wetland areas with over 200 species of birds along with many threatened and endangered species of plants and animals. Their ultimate goal is to take what is now a compromised ecosystem and to restore it to a healthy, biologically functional and diverse system. In addition, to help the Laguna and North San Francisco Bay Area Counties adapt to climate change they are collaborating with other local and regional entities (e.g.

Pepperwood Preserve (est. 1979) is a nature preserve located at the southern end of California’s North Coast Ranges. Snaking between the world-renowned Sonoma and Napa Valleys, the majestic Mayacamas Mountains rise above San Francisco Bay and stretch northward past Calistoga to the east and Santa Rosa to the west. Here, across from Mt. St. Helena, near the divide of the watersheds of the Napa and Russian rivers, Pepperwood Preserve protects a 3117-acre zone of stunning landscape and rich biodiversity.

Point Blue Conservation Science, formerly PRBO Conservation Science, advances the conservation of birds, other wildlife and ecosystems through science, restoration, outreach and partnerships. Our highest priority is to reduce the impacts of climate change, habitat loss and other environmental threats while promoting nature-based solutions for wildlife and people.

Related Resources

Adaptation Phase
Sharing Lessons
Sector Addressed
Climate Justice
Conservation / Restoration
Culture / Communities
Disaster Risk Management
Education / Outreach
Land Use Planning
Rural / Indigenous Livelihoods
Transportation / Infrastructure
Water Resources
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