Donna Ball

Position: Lead Scientist, South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project
July 2020

Donna Ball joined the South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project in February 2020 as their Lead Scientist. Through a partnership between the Restoration Project and the San Francisco Estuary Institute (SFEI), Donna works half-time guiding the Restoration Project’s Science Program and half-time on other SFEI projects which include work along the Bay shoreline, in the Delta, and as co-chair of the Wetlands Regional Monitoring Program (WRMP) Technical Advisory Committee.

Donna brings with her a wealth of experience to the position.  She began as a restoration ecologist consultant with H.T. Harvey and Associates in 2005 then served on the Project’s Stakeholder committee and the Science TAC.  During her time at Save The Bay, she was involved with restoring transition zone habitat within the project footprint as a project partner.  She joined the Project as the Science Framework was in its final phases and is excited to help guide the next phase of science with other scientists who have long histories with the Project.

Donna holds a M.S. in Environmental Science from Western Washington University, Huxley College of the Environment, with a focus on marine and estuarine ecosystems. She has worked as a conservationist, scientist, collaborator, and mentor over the past 15 years in San Francisco Bay marshes and estuaries. She has been fortunate to work on and contribute to many interesting and important Bay Area projects including the Baylands Ecosystem Habitat Goals Update, the Wetland Regional Monitoring Program, the Oro Loma Horizontal Levee Project, Bel Marin Keys Wetland Restoration Project, vegetation mapping of the South Bay Marshes, Joint Venture working committees, and many others.

Prior to joining SFEI, Donna served as the Habitat Restoration Director for Save The Bay, where she led a community-based restoration and education program engaged in wetland restoration, and projects to respond to sea level rise and climate change. In that role, she oversaw the restoration of transition zones around the bay and each year helped bring over 5,000 staff and public volunteers to work on restoration projects.  One of the huge things she enjoyed about that work was watching people become familiar with areas of the shoreline that they had not previously visited.
She is especially grateful for the amazing collaborative scientific community in the Bay Area, including Joint Venture partners and staff. As a scientific community, we all have a lot of work to do to prepare for the climate change impacts on the horizon and to translate those impacts to the public. Our strength in facing that challenge as a scientific community is our ability to work so well together.

A native of Washington State, Donna loves the marshes and rocky shorelines of the Pacific Northwest, but over the last 15 years has developed a deep love for the San Francisco estuary. She appreciates the foresight of conservationists who ensure there are many places for the public to enjoy and access along the California coast and the estuary shorelines. “This is one of the strengths of the SBSP Project,” she said, “with its mission including the provision of public access, as part of the restoration planning.”

In her free time, she loves to be out on a boat on the Bay, walking and biking along the Richmond Shoreline with its rich history and fantastic views of San Francisco, and spending time along the coast enjoying the ocean. Some of her favorite things include cold, rainy days and a good book, tall trees, ice cream, knitting, snuggling with her cat, spending time with friends, visiting her family and friends in the Pacific Northwest, and spending time anywhere along the edge of the Bay.