Revised Draft of the San Francisco Bay Area Water Trail Plan

July 6, 2007


The enclosed draft Water Trail Plan [PDF 2.5MB] (Plan) recommends policies, guidelines and procedures for implementation of the San Francisco Bay Area Water Trail. This revision incorporates comments and edits provided by Water Trail Steering Committee members and interested parties on an earlier draft (dated May 22, 2007). This cover memo gives an overview of the changes made in this revision.

Staff will present the revised Plan to the California Coastal Conservancy Board (July 16, 2007) and the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) (July 19, 2007). These meetings will be open to the public. For information about the meetings, visit the Conservancy website ( or the BCDC website (

For more information or a hard copy of the revised Plan, contact Sara Polgar (415/352-3645 Comments on this revised draft can be emailed or mailed to her attention at 50 California Street, Suite 2600, San Francisco, CA 94111. No deadline has been set yet for submitting further comments.

Overview of Revisions

Overall, the organization and major section topics of this revised Plan remain the same as the previous draft dated May 22, 2007. However, in response to feedback that the Plan needs to explicitly identify expected water trail benefits, staff included a section that briefly describes these potential benefits. Staff also included a Definitions section because readers were confused about different terms used throughout the Plan.

The major changes in the Plan were made to the (1) vision statement; (2) background discussion of wildlife and habitat issues; (3) background on and recommendations for trail stewardship; (4) introduction to the trail development and management strategies; (5) trail head designation process for high opportunity sites; (6) education, outreach and stewardship recommendations; and (7) other trail development and management recommendations.

  1. Vision Statement (Section 1): The vision statement itself remains the same. Staff modified the supporting objectives to make them into generalized goals that provide overarching guidance. These goals are more appropriate to the purpose of a project vision statement.
  2. Wildlife and Habitat Background Information (Section 5.2): Staff included additional and more explicit information about potential disturbance impacts to birds, added information about habitat impacts, and removed language that downplayed the potential for trail-related impacts to these resources.
  3. Stewardship Background Information and Recommendations (Sections 5.4 and 9.1): The definition of stewardship was revised to more accurately reflect the goal of fostering stewardship that is included in the Bay Area Water Trail Act. Trail stewardship recommendations were changed to reflect a more appropriate role for the water trail project in achieving this goal.
  4. (Introduction to the Trail Development and Management Strategies (Section 6): Staff emphasized that not all strategies apply at all trail heads, and highlighted the reasons for this: maintaining the diversity of types of access; the variety of management resources, goals and policies that apply to different access sites; and the site-specific nature issues and opportunities. The suite of strategies needs to be comprehensive enough to address these needs and conditions.
  5. Trail Head Designation Process for High Opportunity Sites (Section 8.3): To streamline the designation process for high opportunity sites, staff recommended that a signage plan be developed (instead of a full trail head plan) and that review of these prospective trail heads be focused on the signage needs.
  6. Education, Outreach and Stewardship Recommendations (Section 9.1): Feedback on the recommended education, outreach and stewardship components suggested that they would be redundant to, or even compete with, existing programs around the Bay. Staff addressed this feedback by making changes to the stewardship (number 3, above) and boater-to-boater education recommendations, and by clarifying the recommended trail outreach and coordination activities with examples of coordination opportunities.
  7. Other Trail Development and Management Recommendations (Sections 9.5 and 9.6): Two new sections were added with recommendations on monitoring of trail-related impacts and support for trail head management and enforcement. Reviewers commented that these topics were not addressed in the previous draft, and that the trail role in monitoring and enforcement needed clarification.

In some cases, staff received multiple requests for changes or additions that were not made. Site-specific information for or analysis of access points was not included because this would be too detailed for the Plan. However, staff retained information provided in comment letters for future use in trail implementation and environmental review of the Plan. Detailed environmental analysis of access or recommendations in the Plan was not included because this will be done in the programmatic environmental review process under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Staff received multiple comments that the Plan should fully designate all backbone access sites as trail heads. Since this would require pre-endorsement from each site owner/manager, and because it would undermine both the past planning process and the upcoming environmental review, this change was not made. Reviewers also requested many updates to map information. Staff included some updates, but due to time limitations, many could not be completed for this mailing. Furthermore, some of these requests are more appropriately addressed as part of the CEQA review of the plan or during trail implementation.
In most cases, staff was able to incorporate comments that were received after the June 19, 2007 deadline. Feedback from late comment letters that could not be included in time for the mailing will be retained for incorporation into the next Plan revision.

The next revision will be a final Plan that will be submitted to the California State Legislature in January 2008 as required by the San Francisco Bay Area Water Trail Act.