HBI General Meeting Notes 2/26/15 – Blue Carbon

Humboldt Bay Initiative & Pacific Coast Joint Venture Meeting, Thursday, February 26, 2015, 9:00 – 11:00 am


Presentation: The Developing Network of Blue Carbon Activities: Why We Should Consider the Humboldt Bay – Eel River, by Dr. Steve Crooks, Climate Change Services Director, ESA. Contact:

Dr. Crooks presented an overview of blue carbon activities, technical guidance documents, and what our region should be considering if we want to move forward exploring blue carbon.

What is Coastal Blue Carbon?
The carbon stored in tidal wetlands, which includes tidally influenced forests, mangroves, tidal marshes and seagrass meadows, within soil, living biomass and nonliving biomass carbon pools. Coastal blue carbon is a subset of blue carbon that also includes ocean blue carbon that represents carbon stored in open ocean carbon pools (UNEP and CIFOR 2014).

Resources provided in the presentation:

Key Messages for our region:

  • Suggested a first possible step in our region may be a landscape-scale feasibility assessment, and may be a good proposal for the region to submit to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Wetlands Restoration for Greenhouse Gas Reduction Program depending on the 2015 grant guidelines. Understanding historic soils, current carbon emissions, and resiliency to sea level rise is key to developing blue carbon projects.
  • Why this region has potential for blue carbon: 1) Strong federal and state partners, engaged through HBI and PCJV, 2) strong community of scientists (through federal agencies and local university) to document baseline data and continue monitoring, 3) opportunities for large-scale tidal restoration projects, 4) sediment, especially in Eel River system, may help projects keep pace with sea level rise, 5) strong forest carbon model already in place (e.g., Arcata Community Forest), and 6) potential for carbon sequestration in restoration of rare tidal forest (Stika Spruce) habitats.
  • Greenhouse gases (GHG) include carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide. Tidal wetlands, freshwater wetlands, and former tidelands sequester and release these gases as different rates. Baseline data on GHG emissions and sequestering rates are needed to understand and account for GHG reduction projects.
  • There is a large range of greenhouse gas accounting, policy, funding allocation, and management approaches. Market tools are still under development for coastal blue carbon projects, with Verified Carbon Standard Coastal Wetlands Restoration Methodology most likely to be developed first.
  • Take Aways from the Guiding Principles for Delivering Coastal Wetland Projects report (More in presentation).  Lesson from conservation and restoration planning: 1) clear and coherent planning approach needed, 2) plan conservation and restoration at the landscape scale, 3) prioritize sites (not all are suitable; take sea level rise into account), 4) restore physical processes, 5) plan with landscape response to climate change and sea level rise in mind, and 6) project success is increased when the community engagement before and during project development.
  • Snohomish Case Study: The project didn’t get great baseline data, in part due to expense of methane sensors (chambers are alternative). This project was successful because of the support of Federal and State agencies, and much of the land was publicly owned and there was a large network of connected individual projects. In Humboldt Bay – Eel River, public-private partnerships will be integral to get baseline data and implementing a blue carbon project.
Other Blue Carbon Resources & Webinars: