Good News for Our Rivers

River Partners Awarded $1.15M for New Solutions to Habitat Recovery

Last week, amid the frantic coverage of the US Congress’ largest spending vote in history, California’s Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) added a positive press release to the coverage schedule.

CDFW announced awards from their Watershed Restoration, Delta Water Quality and Ecosystem Restoration, and Rivers and Streams Grant Programs. River Partners will receive over $1,150,000 to support three innovative salmon habitat and river recovery projects: Lower Sutter Bypass Anadromous Fish Habitat Restoration Planning (Feather River), Willow Bend Floodplain Monitoring (Sacramento River), and Alamo and New Rivers Riparian Habitat Restoration Planning and Permitting.

Projects will be funded through California Proposition 1 and Proposition 68, ballot measures passed with bipartisan support, providing billions of dollars to improve and conserve our state’s water resources, protect wildlife and habitat, and create parks and open spaces for community health and enjoyment.

Restoring our state’s riparian areas and floodplains is critical to making our watersheds more resilient. The investments we make today in the work being done by our grantees like River Partners will ensure that habitat for native plants, fish and wildlife continue to be a part of California’s future.

- Vicki Lake, Program Manager, CDFW Watershed Restoration Grant Programs

These projects have taken years of dedication from River Partners staff and a broad network of partners to develop. To reach this milestone, River Partners hosted workshops and meetings, recruited support from elected officials and land managers, cultivated science partnerships with leading researchers across the state, secured and managed matching funds, and most importantly worked with CDFW to identify actions with the greatest potential for future scalability and impact.

“CDFW is a long-standing and invaluable partner in River Partners’ pursuit of projects that provide the most promising, scalable outcomes for wildlife, habitat, and California communities,” said John Cain, River Partners Director of Conservation. “Together, we have identified high priority actions that will benefit the people of California as articulated in no fewer than a dozen overlapping conservation and management plans.”

With these awards, River Partners joins the ranks of many other successful, effective and innovative non-profits and municipalities supported by CDFW to restore ecosystem values within California’s complex water management system. Other activities that comprise the $37 million in awarded projects include land and water acquisition, habitat restoration, and scientific studies.

The New River flows at 200 cf s as it enters Imperial County, Southern California (US) from Baja California state (México). Photo by Calexico New River Committee (CNRC). Licensed under the Creative Commons CC0 License.

With this support, in Southern California, River Partners will restore riparian habitat along the Alamo and New Rivers. This project will support important riparian wildlife and provide restored open spaces and improved environmental quality along one of the most imperiled rivers in North America.

Sutter Bypass flowed through Butte Slough and under Long Bridge near Colusa Highway in Meridian, Calif. on January 12th, 2017 after a series of atmospheric rivers crossed through Northern California. Kelly M. Grow/ California Department of Water Resources.

In the Sacramento Valley, River Partners will cultivate collaboratives to restore rearing habitat for anadromous fish. This restored habitat will protect and support juvenile salmon as they travel out of the valley. This project will benefit salmon and migratory birds, while simultaneously addressing flood management concerns and supporting local agriculture.

At Willow Bend along the active floodplain of the Sacramento River, River Partners is testing a new approach for creating juvenile salmon rearing habitat. This project will be designed for easy scaling, so the method can be used more broadly across the valley.

“Winter Run Juvenile Salmon” by USFWS is licensed under CC CC0.

If state and local health advisories allow, we hope to begin work on these projects in the late summer of 2020.

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River Partners is helping lead a shift in how we restore floodplains and re-value our river forests. River/Shift shares the latest developments on the restoration projects, advances in science and technology, and partnerships that are bringing life back to rivers to benefit the ecosystems, economies and communities of California.

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