Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of City and Regional Planning


City and Regional Planning


Adrienne Greve


The following thesis discusses the implementation of ecosystem-based management, an emerging concept in the field of environmental planning and management, in the Morro Bay watershed and estuary. Ecosystem-based management offers solutions to problems associated with human interaction within the natural environment; former President Barack Obama advised by the National Ocean Council, Pew Oceans Commission Report and the US Commission on Ocean Policy, has mandated implementation of this concept in coastal and marine systems (National Ocean Council, 2016). The theory behind ecosystem-based management challenges many tenets of existing natural resource management. This thesis finds the concept of ecosystem-based management as favorable despite tradeoffs and impacts of changing status quo. The preliminary research question asked if key criteria of ecosystem-based management were integrated into existing management plans of institutions such as the Coastal San Luis Resource Conservation District, Morro Bay National Estuary Program, and the San Luis Obispo Science and Ecosystem Alliance. The study answers this question through a document analysis of three local management plans. Survey and interviews were used to assess inconsistencies between management plan goals and on-the-ground implementation in the Morro Bay ecosystem. The results were used to incorporate tenets of ecosystem-based management into the Coastal San Luis Resource Conservation District’s five-year and annual strategic plan update.