II: THE AFFECTED ENVIRONMENT
Section I: The Regional Context
I. Section: the Regional Context [Part II TOC]
A. Sanctuary Location [Part II TOC]
Monterey Bay is located along the central California coast about 50 miles (80 km) south of San Francisco (Figure 3). It is California's second largest bay and one of the few major bays along the entire Pacific Coast of the United States. Perhaps its most significant feature is also its least obvious: it possesses the deepest and largest submarine canyon on the coast of North America.
The bay is an open embayment approximately 20 nautical miles (nmi) (37 km) long, north to south, and up to 9 nmi (16 km) wide in an east-west direction. It is symmetrical in shape with bights in the extreme northern and southern ends. It covers an area of approximately 160 nmi2 (550 km2) (Breaker and Broenkow, 1989). Monterey Canyon, equivalent in size to the Grand Canyon, divides the bay into two more-or-less equal northern and southern parts.
The preferred Sanctuary area encompasses both Monterey Bay itself and the adjacent coastline to the north and south, approximately 4,024 square nautical miles. The northern terminus of the boundary is located along the southern boundary of the Gulf of Farallones National Marine Sanctuary and runs westward to approximately 123š07'W. The boundary then extends south in an arc which generally follows the 500 fathom isobath. At approximately 37š03'N, the boundary arcs south to 122š25'W, 36š10'N, due west of Partington Pt. The boundary again follows the 500 fathom isobath south to 121š41'W, 35š33'N, due west of Cambria. The boundary then extends shoreward towards the mean high-water line. The landward boundary is defined by the mean high-water line between Cambria and the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, exclusive of a small area off the coast of San Mateo County and the City and County of San Francisco between Point San Pedro and Point Bonita. The harbors of Monterey (excluding Elkhorn Slough), Moss Landing, Pillar Point, and Santa Cruz are excluded from this alternative.
The coastline setting varies from sandy beaches and rocky outcrops to sandstone cliffs and sand bluffs north of Santa Cruz, to over 25 miles of wind-swept dunes and beaches that fringe part of the bay, to the rugged rocky coastal areas of Monterey Peninsula and Big Sur. The nutrient-rich waters of the bay support extensive fish, invertebrate, seabird, and marine mammal populations while many commercial fisheries provide a significant economic benefit to the region and the nation.
B. Regional Access [Part II TOC]
The Monterey Bay area has been a popular seaside resort since the late 1800's. To the north is the San Francisco-Oakland metropolitan area with a population of about five million. Highway Number 1 parallels the coast throughout the area, making coastal access possible in many places. Santa Clara and San Benito counties have rapidly growing urban populations in San Jose, Morgan Hill, Gilroy and Hollister. North of the Monterey Peninsula, the shoreline is very accessible because of the large amount of public ownership. South of the peninsula the rugged nature of the terrain and more private ownership make ocean access difficult, although many miles of the southern coast are owned and managed by the California Department of Parks and Recreation.