Kelp Restoration

green and brown bull kelp blades reach towards the surface underwater
Credit: Paul Chetirkin/NOAA

Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary is leading efforts with our partners to restore kelp forests in the sanctuary.

The goal of kelp restoration in Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary is a healthy, functional kelp forest ecosystem that is resilient to increased sea surface temperatures from marine heatwaves and intense weather and climate patterns such as El Niño events.

Through our Sanctuary Advisory Council process we provide a unique opportunity for communities to provide input into sanctuary management. The Greater Farallones Sanctuary Advisory Council convened academic, government, and non-profit scientists with recreational divers and tribal community members who produced community-based, expert-driven recommendations to restore bull kelp in the sanctuary.

The Sanctuary Advisory Council's recommendations that guide Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary's kelp restoration efforts, have been adopted by the Greater Farallones Association and incorporated into the Sonoma-Mendocino Bull Kelp Restoration Plan, the first of its kind bull kelp restoration plan published in California that has guided kelp restoration and monitoring efforts in Northern California.

National marine sanctuaries provide a unique opportunity to engage academic scientists with the federal government to work together to understand and restore nationally significant marine habitats.

Section 106 Public Comment Opportunities: NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries considers the issuance of an applicable permit under 15 CFR 922.30 to constitute a federal undertaking under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA). In general, as part of the permit application evaluation process, information will be provided to the public on applicable proposals and seek public input on those proposed undertakings. Input is being solicited over the course of 15 days in the case of a National Marine Sanctuary permit application, below, where an undertaking carries a proposed "no adverse effect on historic properties" determination. (Though N/A below, input would be solicited over the course of 30 days if an undertaking carried a proposed "adverse effect on a historic property" determination.) Comments may be submitted in writing by emailing

Application Number: (GFNMS-2023-002)

Project Title: Greater Farallones Kelp Restoration

Applicants: Rietta Hohman and Deb Self, Greater Farallones Association

Project Locations: within and above the boundaries of Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary in Mendocino, Sonoma and Marin counties

Summary: The applicants seek a National Marine Sanctuary permit for one year to conduct experimental bull kelp research on restoration efforts at two sites, monitor bull kelp growth at two reference sites and at a control site in Sonoma County; to continue to monitor bull kelp growth from two oceanographic moorings in Marin County, and to continue to fly uncrewed aerial systems (UAS) at eleven locations to monitor bull kelp growth in GFNMS in Mendocino and Sonoma counties and fly UAS to monitor bull kelp growth outside of GFNMS in Marin County.

Methods: The applicants propose a one year permit for July 1, 2023 to July 1, 2024; the project would involve, within GFNMS:

  • temporarily establishing seven oceanographic moorings with sensors and 500 lb. mushroom anchors along the Sonoma County coast to monitor for ocean conditions and their effects on bull kelp growth (two at Timber Cove, two at Fort Ross Cove; one at a control site, Gerstle Cove, and two each at two reference sites, Ocean Cove and Stillwater Cove in preparation to scale up restoration efforts there in 2024 if subsequently permitted);
  • continuing to maintain, until planned removal in September 2023, two temporary existing oceanographic moorings with sensors and 500 lb. mushroom anchors for monitoring ocean conditions and their effects on bull kelp growth in off Chimney Rock and Abalone Point in Drake's Bay in Marin County;
  • temporarily installing restoration grids (with eyebolts and lead lines), testing bull kelp transplanting (also termed "outplanting") methods (using soral tissue, cultured twine, spore bags, invertebrate recruitment modules, and cultured and uncultured pavers), and monitoring bull kelp growth at the two restoration sites;
  • removing urchins at Timber Cove and Fort Ross Cove and implementing a small-scale crushing study (under a state Scientific Collecting Permit) at Fort Ross Cove;
  • and continued monitoring of bull kelp growth via UAS (drones) flying below 1,000 ft over Special Wildlife Protection Zones at sites in Mendocino, Sonoma and Marin counties offshore of Anchor Bay, Fish Rock, Bourns Rock, Robinson Point, Timber Cove South, three Fort Ross sites, and Timber Gulch and outside of offshore of Double and Abalone Points. All UAS would be launched/landed from land outside of GFNMS boundaries except that they would be launched/landed from a vessel for monitoring offshore of Double and Abalone Points.

All temporarily installed project materials would be removed from the submerged lands prior to expiration of GFNMS-2023-002, or if a subsequent longer-term permit for full-scale restoration was applied for and issued, at expiration of that permit; soral outplants and bull kelp sporophytes to remain.

Historic and potentially historic properties in the Area of Potential Effects include two known historic shipwrecks in the area of the proposed project locations (the SS Pomona and the Norlina), both on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). Also in the project area are the Salt Point Landing Historical and Archaeological District and the Fort Ross Landing Historical and Archaeological District, both on the NRHP; in addition, Timber Cove Landing, Walsh Landing, and Stockhoff Cove Landings are included in a 2021 submission of multiple historic doghole port locations as part of a Northern California Doghole Ports Maritime Cultural Landscape Multiple Property Submission for consideration for listing on the NRHP. Prehistoric indigenous properties and artifacts are not known within the boundaries of GFNMS (generally, mean high water and below; the exact boundaries are specified in the National Marine Sanctuary regulations at 15 CFR 922.80 and Appendix A to Subpart H of Part 922). The specific placement of moorings; bolts, pavers, and locations of the grid restoration squares could easily be shifted or altered to avoid impacts to historic and potentially historic properties within GFNMS per the project manager. On terrestrial locations outside of GFNMS boundaries, access to/egress from project sites and use of UAS would be on established roads and pathways, except for the UAS launched by vessel.

NHPA Section 106 Determination: NOAA's ONMS proposes a finding of no adverse effects on historic properties from the issuance of a National Marine Sanctuary permit for the Greater Farallones Kelp Restoration Project. NOAA finds no adverse effects to historic properties, those eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, or potentially historic properties as a result of the experimental kelp research activities that would be allowed by its undertaking. None of the activities would rise to the level of constituting an adverse effect on any historic properties.

Public Comment Acceptance Period and Method: May 30 – June 13, 2023. Please submit any comments to