Sean Baumgarten's picture

Sean Baumgarten

Associate Environmental Scientist
Resilient Landscapes Program
Historical Ecology
Terrestrial Ecology
(510) 746-7335

Sean Baumgarten joined SFEI’s Resilient Landscapes team in 2012. His research focuses on the historical ecology of California ecosystems, using archival data to reconstruct the form and function of past landscapes and understand how they have changed over time. Sean has conducted research on coastal, riverine, and terrestrial ecosystems throughout the Bay Area as well as in southern California and the Central Valley. Sean earned a Master of Environmental Science and Management degree with a specialization in Conservation Planning from the Bren School at UC Santa Barbara, where his research focused on developing fire management strategies for Tejon Ranch in Southern California. He received a B.S. in Wildlife, Fish, and Conservation Biology from UC Davis.

Related Projects, News, and Events

Next Generation Urban Greening (Project)

SFEI is working with partners across the Bay Area to design tools to help cities achieve biodiversity, stormwater, and climate benefits through multifunctional green infrastructure.

Hidden Nature San Francisco: A conversation about the past, present, and future of nature in San Francisco (News)

SFEI and our partners from the Exploratorium, the San Francisco Department of the Environment, and the Presidio Trust were joined live by over 400 participants for a conversation around the nature, both past and present, that is hidden in plain sight in San Francisco. On Wednesday, February 24th, SFEI unveiled our mapping of San Francisco’s historical ecology and shared stories that uncover the mysteries of San Francisco’s ecological past.

Hidden Nature SF (Project)

Hidden Nature SF brings a new perspective to our view of San Francisco, studying the city’s historical ecology in order to engage the public in re-imagining San Francisco’s ecological past, present, and future.

Re-Oaking (Project)

“Re-Oaking” is an approach to reintegrating oaks and other native trees within the developed California landscape to provide a range of ecosystem services. The concept has emerged from SFEI's research into the distribution and characteristics of California's former valley oak savannas -- a distinctive, widespread habitat that was mostly lost a century ago. Now valley oaks and other native trees are being recognized for the benefits they did -- and could again – provide, as communities design the ecologically healthy and resilient landscapes of the future.

City of Riverside Urban and Historical Ecology Case Study (Project)

This study focuses on a segment of the Santa Ana River Parkway in and around the City of Riverside, where multiple habitat restoration projects are underway.

Peninsula Watershed Historical Ecology Study (Project)

Nestled in the rugged coastal mountains between San Francisco and Silicon Valley lies one of the ecological treasures of the San Francisco Bay Area: the Peninsula Watershed. Home to mountain lions, marbled murrelets, towering old-growth Douglas-firs, and an immense diversity of other plants and animals, the Peninsula Watershed is a unique and wild expanse of open space just minutes from one of the most urbanized parts of California.

Restoration Vision for the Laguna de Santa Rosa Completed! (News)

SFEI completed a long-term Restoration Vision for the Laguna de Santa Rosa in the Russian River watershed. SFEI, Sonoma Water, and the Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation worked with technical advisors, stakeholders, and landowners to develop the Restoration Vision, which identifies opportunities for multi-benefit habitat restoration and land management that supports people and wildlife.

Tijuana River Valley Historical Ecology Investigation (Project)

The Tijuana River Valley Historical Ecology Investigation synthesized hundreds of historical maps, photographs, and texts to reconstruct the the ecological, hydrological, and geomorphic conditions of the valley prior to major European-American landscape modification.

Petaluma Valley Historical Hydrology and Ecology Study (Project)

This project reconstructs the historical hydrology and ecology of the Petaluma River watershed prior to major Euro-American modification. It demonstrates the efficacy of historical hydrology and ecology in identifying and prioritizing multi-benefit restoration opportunities.

North San Diego County Lagoons Historical Ecology Study (Project)

The Northern San Diego County Lagoons Historical Ecology Investigation draws on hundreds of historical documents to analyze and reconstruct historical landscape conditions for six northern San Diego County estuaries prior to the major modifications of the late 19th and 20th centuries.

Lower Walnut Creek Historical Ecology Study (Project)

During the mid-19th century, the lower Walnut Creek watershed was a landscape dominated by extensive wetlands, meandering creeks, and grassy plains. The marshes, sloughs, and meadows provided habitat and food for a huge number of wildlife species ranging from grizzly bears and elk to clapper rails and steelhead. Over the past 150 years, urban development, diking and filling of wetlands, and channelization of streams has resulted in dramatic changes to the watershed, and much of the historical habitat has been lost.

Lower Laguna de Santa Rosa and Mark West Creek: Changes in Historical Channel Alignment (Project)

Over the past century and a half, the hydrology of the Laguna de Santa Rosa watershed has been altered by a variety land use changes, including urbanization, agricultural development, draining and filling of wetlands, and channelization of streams. These changes have impacted the function of the Laguna and Mark West Creek and contributed to a range of contemporary management problems, including habitat degradation, impaired water quality, altered sediment dynamics, salmonid stranding, flooding, and trash accumulation.

Laguna de Santa Rosa Master Restoration Plan (Project)

The Laguna de Santa Rosa is an expansive freshwater wetland complex that hosts a rich diversity of plant and wildlife species, and is also home to a thriving agricultural community. Since the mid-19th century, modifications to the Laguna and its surrounding landscape have degraded habitat conditions for both wildlife and people.

John Muir/Mt. Wanda Historical Ecology Reconnaissance Study (Project)

The Mt. Wanda Historical Ecology Investigation assembled historical landscape data for the Mt. Wanda unit of the John Muir National Historic Site (NHS), located in the Alhambra Valley just south of downtown Martinez, CA. The John Muir NHS preserves the home and property where John Muir lived from 1890-1914, including the 326-acre Mt. Wanda parcel, where Muir frequently took walks with his daughters Helen and Wanda.

Historical Ecology and Landscape Change in the Central Laguna de Santa Rosa (Project)

This study synthesizes a diverse array of data to examine the ecological patterns, ecosystem functions, and hydrology that characterized a central portion of the Laguna de Santa Rosa during the mid-19th century, and to analyze landscape changes over the past 150 years. The primary purpose of this study was to help guide restoration actions and other measures aimed at reducing nutrient loads within this portion of the Laguna de Santa Rosa watershed.

Petaluma River Watershed: A Slough of Change (Event)

Come learn about an exciting report recently completed by the San Francisco Estuary Institute (SFEI) and Sonoma RCD on the historical ecology of the Petaluma River watershed. SFEI will highlight interesting details about the history of this unique watershed and share insights about how historical data can be used to improve future management and conservation decisions. Anyone interested in learning more about the past, present, and future of the Petaluma River is encouraged to attend.

Flood Control 2.0 Wins an Outstanding Environmental Project Award! (News)

The Flood Control 2.0 project team was presented with an Outstanding Environmental Project Award at the 13th Biennial State of the Estuary Conference in Oakland, CA. The award is given by the Friends of the San Francisco Estuary to projects that benefit the San Francisco-Bay Delta Estuary and its watersheds.

Flood Control 2.0 Completed! (News)

SFEI and several agency partners recently completed a multi-year, EPA funded project called Flood Control 2.0. The goal of the project was to develop information that is useful for integrating habitat restoration into flood management at the Bay edge. Project outputs are now available at floodcontrol.sfei.org.

Laguna de Santa Rosa Historical Ecology Initiative (Project)

The Laguna de Santa Rosa (Laguna) watershed spans 256 square miles and supports a unique complex of biologically diverse ecosystems. Containing the urban centers of Santa Rosa, Sebastopol, Cotati, Rohnert Park, and Windsor, the Laguna watershed encompasses one of the largest floodplains in California. Historically the Laguna watershed supported a diverse ecosystem consisting of oak savanna/vernal pool complexes, riparian forest, emergent and off channel wetlands, and open water.

Lower Walnut Creek Vision Just Released! (News)

SFEI recently released a resilient landscape vision for lower Walnut Creek that incorporates habitat restoration actions into flood risk management. The vision, developed in coordination with a team of regional science experts, highlights opportunities for restoring and sustaining vital tidal wetland habitats around lower Walnut Creek while supporting a high level of flood protection under rising San Francisco Bay water levels.