Brenda Goeden

Name: Brenda Goeden
Occupation: Sediment Program Manager
Agency: San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission

Brenda has been working with BCDC for 15 years and became Sediment Program Manager in 2008. Her focus at work, as described in her title, is all things sediment, particularly the beneficial reuse of dredged sediment in an effort to manage a healthy sediment system.

One of her current projects involves working with navigation dredging through the Long Term Management Strategy (LTMS) program, which she is looking to potentially expand into a Regional Sediment Management Program for the Bay that takes into consideration flood protection, habitat restoration, beach nourishment, mining, dredging and tributary management.

Brenda has also been involved with SediMatch, a collaboration between the San Francisco Bay Joint Venture, San Francisco Estuary Project, San Francisco Estuary Institute and BCDC. For her, this has been a fun endeavor since “we like to make the mud connection, and matching up supply and demand with the support of a website makes a lot of sense.” She has also been doing a deep dive into regulatory issues around flood control projects and finding similar issues to those of the dredging community from the 1990’s, with parallels to current restoration projects. Brenda has provided input to restoration projects around the Bay, including Hamilton, Bair Island, Cullinan Ranch, Montezuma, South Bay Salt Ponds and Lower Novato Creek.

When asked what it is she loves about her job, she said “it is hands down the interesting science and the people. We are still learning so much from dedicated colleagues who are doing the science and helping us understand how the system works and is changing. There are amazing people involved in every angle of the process – from those who are restoring and repairing the ecological damage we’ve done to the system to the dredgers who keep our navigation system working and bring commerce and recreation to the Bay Area – not to mention the interface between these worlds.”

Most recently Brenda has had the opportunity to work with the flood protection community, and gain a better understanding of and appreciation for their role in protecting livelihoods, homes and habitat. The fun of it all she says, “is how all these aspects of her work mix and match together, with passionate people on all sides who are largely open to new ideas, and ways of thinking about what we do. It is so very interesting to see how the puzzle pieces can come together – who doesn’t love a good jigsaw puzzle?”

Brenda also speaks with high regard about her team – Pascale Soumoy and Anniken Lydon – whom she “couldn’t function without.” Together they have also been able to work with the Sea Grant and NOAA Fellowship Programs who have provided “amazing fellows who have gone on to do incredible things for coastal management.”

As far as life beyond the sediment world goes, people who know Brenda also know she is likely to show up at a meeting with a couple of baby birds during nesting season. In fact, bird rehab can take up much of her free time from spring through summer, since raising hummingbirds, swifts and swallows means she has to feed them every 20 to 45 minutes from dawn till dusk.

She’s been at it now for 21 years, and has raised well over 1500 swallows, 100 or so swifts, and several hundred hummingbirds. “I enjoy this work, and love releasing them back into the world. I like to think I have a few small flocks out there.”

Aside from that, Brenda has also been volunteering with the Farallones Marine Sanctuary Association for the same amount of time, completing monthly wildlife and beach condition surveys at Drake Beach in Point Reyes and has served on four oil spill response teams. She also loves to hike, bird watch, and is anavid volleyball player.