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Input sought on Morro Bay Estuary plan

The Morro Bay National Estuary Program is embarking on the first comprehensive update of its action plan to protect and restore the estuary.

Morro Bay was designated a national estuary in 1995, and the first management plan was approved in 2000.

Program managers are looking for input from the public about new issues facing the estuary that have arisen over the past decade.

The initial management plan identified seven overarching problems facing the estuary.

They are sedimentation, nutrient overloading, bacterial pollution, habitat loss, reduced freshwater flows, loss of steelhead trout and toxic pollution.

These challenges remain, and several other new ones have arisen that could be incorporated in the update, said Shari Sullivan, the program’s outreach coordinator.

These include the effects of global climate change and invasive species, such as the Algerian sea lavender, a nonnative plant that was recently discovered in the bay’s salt marshes.

“The central portion of the plan describes specific actions to address these critical priority problems,” according to a news release. “The actions in the plan are the core of the estuary program’s efforts — every project completed and every grant funded must be covered by at least one of these actions.”

A draft of the management plan update will be released in the winter. The draft will be open to public comment before the estuary program’s executive committee finalizes it.

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Estuary managers will hold a public workshop on the update from 6 to 8 p.m. Sept. 29 at Sea Pines Golf Resort in Los Osos.

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