Century of Destruction

The Golden Gate watershed comprises 40 million acres, about 40% of the surface area of the state of California.  Around the time of the California Gold Rush in 1849, human alterations of the estuary ecosystem commenced in earnest, including the damming of most major tributary rivers that resulted in the reduction of fresh water inflow to the estuary by 50%. In addition, 542,000 acres of the Bay and Delta's tidal wetlands were destroyed, primarily by draining and converting them to farmland.

This gallery illustrates the massive human alteration of the estuary's watershed that has occured since the Gold Rush.