Coastal ecosystems and agricultural land use: New challenges on California's central coast

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


This article uses the Central Coast region of California as a case study to examine the challenges of protecting coastal ecosystems near areas of intensive agricultural production. Coastal water quality and biodiversity are greatly impacted by regional land use. Agricultural land use can have significant impacts on water quality through erosion and the runoff of agricultural chemicals. While the Central Coast region of California is a center for intensive agricultural production, it is also home to the largest marine sanctuary in the United States. This combination has resulted in intensive efforts from government agencies and conservation organizations to reduce pollution associated with agriculture. Efforts have focused on education and incentives, but are recently facing increasing challenges stemming from new standards created by the produce industry in response to food safety concerns. Personal interviews with crop growers were used to explore these challenges and to better understand the range of possible environmental impacts resulting from new food safety standards. Results indicate that substantial management changes are taking place that are likely to impact regional water quality and wildlife. This case study also explores the role of policy networks in shaping management decisions and illustrates how certain approaches to addressing agricultural pollution may be vulnerable to external policy changes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)42-64
Number of pages23
JournalCoastal Management
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Agriculture
  • California
  • Conservation programs
  • Water quality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • General Environmental Science


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