Riparian restoration, California

Compendium Volume 2 Number 2 January 2019 r.1

The arid San Joaquin Valley of California is intensively farmed and dependent on irrigation. The San Joaquin River, once teeming with migrating fish and other wildlife, is surrounded by farmland and has become warm, muddy, and nearly devoid of aquatic life. In 2012 and 2014, River Partners, a California non-profit dedicated to restoring riparian habitat and river connectivity, partnered with state and federal agencies to buy 2,100 acres of farmland adjacent to the river. The farmers were ready to let the land go because of its proneness to flooding.

To reconnect and restore the floodplain, Dos Rios project workers are breaching berms and levees and planting native trees and shrubs tolerant of ephemeral flooding. This is one of several similar projects managed by River Partners, as well as others led by the state. Further funding for such floodplain restoration efforts is likely to continue given that California voters have passed Proposition 68 or “California Drought, Water, Parks, Climate, Coastal Protection, and Outdoor Access For All Act of 2018.” This legislation to invest $4 billion in park and ecosystem conservation and restoration and climate resiliency includes $300 million for floodplain projects in the Central Valley.

Dos Rios Ranch Preserve: California’s largest floodplain restoration project:

California is preparing for extreme weather. It’s time to plant some trees:

For the full PDF version of the compendium issue where this article appears, visit Compendium Volume 2 Number 2 January 2019 r.1