The Monitoring and Stewardship Unit (MSU) has a current mission to track and assess the outcomes of bond-funded natural resources projects using performance-based criteria to inform California’s investments in communities and nature.
In the face of more frequent and extreme climate events, the State is working to increase the resiliency of California’s communities, natural systems and essential resources. Since 2000, California voters have approved over $30 billion in bond investments to assist in the protection, restoration and management of California’s historical, cultural and natural resources. This money has been used to fund over 16,000 projects around the state.
To understand the extent that these bond-funded projects are contributing to California’s resource management goals, project performance should be monitored and reported to the State. Analyzing the monitoring data collected from these projects will allow California to make informed policy decisions and ensure that the State effectively invests bond-dollars in high-need areas.
MSU was created in 2018 to coordinate information-sharing across all California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA) offices that manage bond-funded projects. To achieve this purpose, MSU will:
- Support the collaboration, coordination, and sharing of information offices under the California Natural Resources Agency.
- Promote consistent data collection and data management strategies for future projects.
- Compile and aggregate existing data in an accessible, centralized database.
- Inform decision-making for future natural resources investments, policies, and adaptive management strategies.
In the immediate, MSU intends to work with CNRA offices to develop a central data management platform that can be used to track a set of standard metrics at project sites. For more information, please see “Monitoring and Evaluation of California Natural Resources Agency Investments”.
Monitoring and Stewardship Unit Supervisor
Gina joined MSU in August 2018 as the unit supervisor. As the supervisory scientist, Gina sets strategic goals to achieve MSU’s mission of tracking and assessing the outcomes of resources-related projects using performance-based criteria. Gina is a biologist by education and has worked as a scientist for the Natural Resources Agency since 2001. Gina previously worked at the Department of Water Resources (DWR) on projects like DWR’s Water Quality Monitoring & Assessment program and at California Department of Fish & Wildlife as the liaison to DWR on the Central Valley Flood Protection Plan and DWR’s Conservation Strategy. Gina loves to spend time with her family and dog, and enjoys hiking, fishing or just exploring the outdoors.
Elea Becker Lowe
Elea Becker Lowe has worked with MSU as an environmental scientist since its creation in 2018. Her role focuses on determining methods to evaluate the return on investment of the Natural Resources Agency’s bond-funded, natural resources projects and developing protocols to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of these projects over time. Elea previously worked with the Agency’s Climate Team to develop policies that help California adapt to a changed and changing climate. Originally from Vermont, and after years spent abroad, Elea made her way to California to earn a master’s degree in International Environmental Policy from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies. She’s proudly called California her home ever since, spending as much time as possible exploring the western wilderness or playing in her urban garden.
Brad came to MSU in 2018 as an environmental scientist to develop tools and best management practices for grant managers and administrators. Currently, Brad focuses on compiling Natural Resources Agency land acquisitions and associated conservation values via bond and non-bond funded programs . Brad has been with the Natural Resources Agency for the last nine years. Prior to coming to the state agency, he was a restoration ecologist for a mitigation contractor and an environmental planner with the Sacramento County Planning department.
Jim joined MSU in July 2019 as an environmental and data scientist to help manage the acquisition, organization and analysis of data pertinent to the stewardship of natural resource assets. Before joining the CNRA, he worked as a marine scientist at the University of Hawaii and then the University of Western Australia studying the impacts of climate change on coral reef communities, usually through a combination of field studies, controlled experiments, and numerical modeling. He also served as an Associate Editor for the journal Limnology and Oceanography. Prior to becoming a marine scientist, Jim earned a BS in Civil and Environmental Engineering from M.I.T. and then an MS and PhD in Oceanography from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. More recently, he earned an MA in Statistics from UC Berkeley and then worked as a data analyst for Kaiser Permanente to broaden his skills as a data scientist. When he isn’t working, Jim is usually chasing around his two little children who believe that ‘Hop on Pop’ is more than just a book, it’s a lifestyle.
Graduate Student Assistant
Maria joined MSU in June 2018 as a graduate student assistant, where she works on project evaluations, including the adaptive management case studies and the MSU database pilot project. Maria is currently an MA Candidate in International Environmental Policy, with a focus on Sustainability Management, at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies. She also holds a Licentiate degree in Economics from the University of Buenos Aires. Before joining MSU, Maria worked as a Research Assistant for the Center for the Blue Economy in Monterey and as an Advocacy Intern with Save Our Shores, a non-profit based in the Monterey Bay, working on policy issues, especially regarding plastic pollution in the ocean. Maria loves being outside, especially in the Sierras where she goes skiing and hiking as much as possible in her free time.
Science Policy Fellow
Rae joined MSU in December 2019 through the California Council on Science and Technology Science Policy Fellows Program. Rae works on developing a complete directory of existing resource monitoring and inventory in the state and creating resource management tools from that information. While earning a Ph.D. in Analytical Chemistry at the University of Washington, Rae also completed a certificate in Science, Technology, and Society Studies, where she focused on how the scientific topics are discussed outside of labs, particularly in environmental decision-making settings. When not at work, Rae can be found with her nose in a book or hands in a bowl of bread dough, or outside taking a long walk.
Monitoring and Stewardship Unit: