Jeanette Howard

Director of Science
Freshwater
[email protected]

Jeanette leads TNC’s freshwater science team in The Nature Conservancy’s California Chapter. The team focuses on developing and fostering a science enterprise to sustain healthy aquatic ecosystems in California. This work includes conservation planning for freshwater biodiversity, defining environmental flows to maintain and restore freshwater species, habitat and ecological processes, deepening our understanding of groundwater dependent ecosystems, and building partnerships for conservation actions. Jeanette is currently working on a freshwater conservation blueprint for California to identify freshwater hotspots.

Prior to working at The Nature Conservancy, Jeanette completed her Ph.D. in physical geography at the University of California, Berkeley, was a research scientist for the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation restoring freshwater mussels and Pacific lamprey to Tribal rivers, and worked as a researcher at the National Geographic.


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2018 | Freshwater | Planning | Publications & Reports

A freshwater conservation blueprint for California: prioritizing watersheds for freshwater biodiversity

Jeanette K. Howard, Kurt A. Fesenmyer, Theodore E. Grantham, Joshua H. Viers, Peter R. Ode, Peter B. Moyle, Sarah J. Kupferburg, Joseph L. Furnish, Andrew Rehn, Joseph Slusark, Raphael D. Mazor, Nicholas R. Santos, Ryan A. Peek, Amber N. Wright

Freshwater ecosystems are in peril globally. Threats to freshwater biodiversity are numerous and include habitat degradation, pollution, overexploitation, dam construction, species invasion, and hydroclimatic change. With conservation resources often limited, prioritization tooks are needed by land and water managers. To fill this need, the authors…


2018 | Freshwater | Science | Publications & Reports

Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act: Guidance for Preparing Groundwater Sustainability Plans

Rohde, M.M., S. Matsumoto, J. Howard, S. Liu, L. Riege, E.J. Remson

California's Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) of 2014 is landmark legislation that empowers local agencies, known as groundwater sustainability agencies, to sustainably manage groundwater resources for social, economic and environmental benefits. SGMA also includes specific requirements to identify and consider impacts to groundwater dependent ecosystems


2017 | Freshwater | Science | Publications & Reports

Patterns and magnitude of flow alteration in California, USA

Julie K H Zimmerman, Daren M. Carlisle, Jason T. May, Kirk R. Klausmeyer, Theodore E. Grantham, Larry R. Brown, Jeanette K. Howard

The importance of the natural flow regime to stream and river health has received growing attention in recent years. Understanding natural flows and patterns of flow alteration is an important first step in improving the management of California’s rivers and streams for human and ecosystem…


2017 | Freshwater | Science | Data

California Natural Flows Database

Julie K.H. Zimmerman, Daren M. Carlisle, Jason T. May, Kirk R. Klausmeyer, Theodore E. Grantham, Larry R. Brown, Jeanette K. Howard

The Nature Conservancy and the United Stated Geological Survey (USGS) partnered to generate estimates of natural flows (expected streamflow in the absence of human modification) in all the streams and rivers in California (1950-2015). For more details on the methods and results see  Patterns and…


2017 | Freshwater | Planning | Science | Publications & Reports

A Global Synthesis of Managing Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems Under Sustainable Groundwater Policy

Melissa M. Rohde, Ray Froend, Jeanette Howard

Groundwater is a vital water supply worldwide for people and nature. However, species and ecosystems that depend on groundwater for some or all of their water needs, known as groundwater dependent ecosystems (GDEs), are increasingly becoming threatened worldwide. This paper provides an overview of how…




2017 | Freshwater | Planning | Publications & Reports

Water for nature: What we can do today to help California’s rivers, streams and wetlands

Burns, C.E., A. Hoss, N. Smith, K. Klausmeyer, K. Fesenmeyer, A. Campbell, J. Carah, E. Forsburg, S. Heard, J.K. Howard, L. Hulette, S. Liu, P. Spraycar, B. Stranko, G. Werner, D. Wordham

This report identifies a set of strategies that will have the greatest impact on environmental flows, and to provide a resource for conservation organizations, resource agencies, and other stakeholders in California that may help create the conditions that allow freshwater species to thrive well into…



2016 | Freshwater | Maps & Webmaps

How and Where Nature Uses Groundwater

Kirk Klausmeyer, Jeanette Howard, Sandi Matsumoto, Sally Liu, Melissa Rohde

Groundwater is essential to the health and viability of plants, animals and ecosystems. Many tree species, like willows and cottonwoods, rely on groundwater to survive seasonal and annual dry spells. Fish and other aquatic life need groundwater to keep rivers flowing. When unsustainable management causes groundwater levels…


2015 | Freshwater | Planning | Maps & Webmaps

California’s Freshwater Conservation Blueprint map

Megan Webb, Kirk Klausmeyer, Jeanette Howard

The transformation of California into one of the most productive agricultural and urban landscapes in the world and a growing population have put unprecedented pressure on freshwater habitats, reducing them to a small fraction of their historic extent. Across the state, freshwater-dependent ecosystems have been…


2015 | Freshwater | Science | Publications & Reports

California Freshwater Blueprint: Phase I Overview

Jeanette K. Howard, Kirk R. Klausmeyer, Kurt A. Fesenmyer

California is one of the most productive agricultural and urban landscapes in the world with a growing population. These pressures have reduced aquatic and wetland habitats to a small fraction of their historic extent. Ecosystems dependent on freshwater have been degraded across the state, with…


2015 | Freshwater | Planning | Data

California Freshwater Species Database v2

Jeanette Howard, Kirk Klausmeyer, Kurt Fesenmyer

The California Freshwater Species Database is the first comprehensive geospatial database of California’s freshwater species compiled and standardized into single format from nearly 500 sources. It provides a single source for geodata covering the plants and animals that rely on California’s freshwater resources to survive.…


2015 | Freshwater | Planning | Science | Publications & Reports

Patterns of Freshwater Species Richness, Endemism, and Vulnerability in California

Jeanette K. Howard, Kirk R. Klausmeyer, Kurt A. Fesenmyer, Joseph Furnish, Thomas Gardali, Ted Grantham, Jacob V. E. Katz, Sarah Kupferberg, Patrick McIntyre, Peter B. Moyle, Peter R. Ode, Ryan Peek, Rebecca M. Quiñones, Andrew C. Rehn, Nick Santos, Steve Schoenig, Larry Serpa, Jackson D. Shedd, Joe Slusark, Joshua H. Viers, Amber Wright, Scott A. Morrison

The California Freshwater Species Database is the first comprehensive geospatial database of California’s freshwater species compiled and standardized into single format from nearly 500 sources. It provides a single source for geodata covering the plants and animals that rely on California’s freshwater resources to…


2015 | Terrestrial | Publications & Reports

High Time for Conservation: Adding the Environment to the Debate on Marijuana Liberalization

Jennifer K. Carah, Jeanette K. Howard, Sally E. Thompson, Anne G. Short Gianotti, Scott D. Bauer, Stephanie M. Carlson, David N. Dralle, Mourad W. Gabriel, Lisa L. Hulette, Brian J. Johnson, Curtis A. Knight, Sarah J. Kupferberg, Stefanie L. Martin, Rosamond L. Naylor, Mary E. Power

Marijuana cultivation can have significant negative collateral effects on the environment that are often unknown or overlooked. This study focuses on California, where by some estimates, 60–70% of the marijuana consumed in the United States is grown. The study adds the environment to the debate…


2015 | Freshwater | Data

Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems in California data

Jeanette Howard, Matt Merrifield

The California Freshwater Species Database is the first comprehensive geospatial database of California’s freshwater species compiled and standardized into single format from nearly 500 sources. It provides a single source for geodata covering the plants and animals that rely on California’s freshwater resources to survive.


2014 | Freshwater | Maps & Webmaps

Hope Runs Deep: Conservation Solutions for Salmon in Shasta Valley

Jeanette Howard, Megan Webb, Katie Andrews

Using maps, images, and video, this interactive StoryMap illustrates how The Nature Conservancy works with partners in Shasta Valley, California to find conservation solutions that work for salmon and people. 


2013 | Terrestrial | Science | Publications & Reports

Farm practices for food safety: an emerging threat to floodplain and riparian ecosystem

Gennet, S., J. Howard, J. Langholz, K. Andrews, M.D. Reynolds, S.A. Morrison

This paper discusses the 2006 outbreak of toxic foodborne E. coli and its impact on wildlife. The authors explain how farming practices for food safety that target wildlife can damage ecosystems but may not actually improve the safety of the food supply and how high…


2013 | Freshwater | Planning | Science | Publications & Reports

Below the Surface: California’s Freshwater Diversity

Jeanette Howard, Kirk Klausmeyer, Kurt Fesenmyer

Californians face profound decisions regarding the management of their state’s increasingly limited water supply. Critical for decision-making is information about the plants and animals that also rely on California’s freshwater resources to survive. This report includes an atlas of the freshwater biodiversity patterns in California,…


2012 | Freshwater | Marine | Science | Microsite

California Salmon Snapshots

Sally Liu, Megan Webb, Jeanette Howard, Jennifer Carah

The Nature Conservancy’s California Salmon Snapshots is a collaborative information-sharing effort, critical to the on-going recovery of the state's salmon species. This is the most comprehensive salmon information in California, combining the knowledge of the California Department of Fish & Wildlife, the National Marine Fisheries Service,…


2011 | Freshwater | Marine | Planning | Publications & Reports

SalmonScape: Priorities for Conserving California’s Salmon and Steelhead Diversity

Jeanette Howard, Kirk Klausmeyer, Sally Liu

This report analyzed Chinook, coho salmon, and steelhead trout population and habitat data across California to identify a portfolio of places called the SalmonScape. SalmonScape identifies areas in California with the greatest potential for habitat restoration and protection, and where wild salmon also have the best…


2011 | Freshwater | Marine | Planning | Maps & Webmaps

SalmonScape map

Megan Webb, Jeanette Howard , Kirk Klausmeyer, Sally Liu

The Conservancy's SalmonScape is an analysis and map that analyzed and ranked the watersheds that support or contribute to salmon habitat in California based on where conservation efforts would have the best return-on-investment. The analysis helped coordinate and direct salmon conservation efforts across the state.


2011 | Freshwater | Marine | Planning | Publications & Reports

Conservation Assessment of U.S. West Coast Estuaries

Mary Gleason, Sarah Newkirk, Matt Merrifield, Jeanette Howard, Robin Cox, Megan Webb, Jennifer Koepcke, Brian Stranko, Bethany Taylor, Mike Beck, Roger Fuller, Dick VanderSchaaf, Jena Carter

While significant progress has been made over the past few decades in improving estuarine water quality, restoring wetland habitats, and incorporating estuarine habitats into managed areas, estuarine conservation efforts along the U.S. West Coast—including Washington, Oregon, and California—have generally proceeded on a bay-by-bay basis, with…


2010 | Freshwater | Publications & Reports

Mapping Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems in California

Jeanette Howard, Matt Merrifield

In 2014 the California legislature passed a three-bill package (SB 1168, AB 1739, and SB 1319) of groundwater reform legislation that was the most significant update of California water policy in several decades. The legislation provides authorities and guidance for local agencies to develop sustainable…


2009 | Freshwater | Planning | Publications & Reports

California’s Freshwater Biodiversity in a Continental Context

Howard, J, C. Revenga

Worldwide, freshwater species and habitats are, on average, more imperiled than their terrestrial or marine counterparts. Despite concerns over the health of the world’s freshwater species and systems, there have been few attempts to systematically describe patterns of freshwater biodiversity. Without robust biodiversity data, conservationists…