Planning Efforts Related to Ecosystem Restoration
Cache Slough Regional Planning
Phase 1 of the Cache Slough Comprehensive Regional Planning Project. was initiated to consider how integration of potentially competing land uses such as ecosystem, agriculture, water supply and quality and flood risk reduction can occur and how these uses can be better coordinated over time. The goals for the state agencies are to plan for the advancement of Proposition 1 eligible projects including ecosystem restoration and agricultural sustainability efforts and the integration of flood risk reduction projects. Local agencies’ goals are to protect, preserve and enhance agriculture and other land uses, and protect water supply and water quality. Phase 1 of the Cache Slough Planning Project allowed for beneficial use interests (e.g., agriculture, flood management, water supply, ecosystem, and recreation) at the state, regional, and local levels to collaboratively engage in discussions and data development to begin to devise a balanced approach for sustainable integrated management of resources and land uses for current and future conditions within the Cache Slough Complex (CSC).
A work group was established consisting of representatives from Solano and Yolo counties, Solano, Dixon, and Yolo County Resource Conservation Districts, Reclamation District 2068, Solano County Water Agency, Natural Resources Agency, Department of Fish and Wildlife, Department of Water Resources, Delta Stewardship Council, and Delta Conservancy, with technical support from The Catalyst Group, FlowWest, and the San Francisco Estuary Institute. The work group and sub-groups met several times per month from November 2016 through June 2017.
The collaboration effort was successful in demonstrating that the various interest groups are motivated to work together to gather, evaluate, and support the use of appropriate data sets and other information for consideration in the planning process. The collaboration also proved to be valuable in developing relationships, bridging information divides, and sharing other viewpoints, all of which would be helpful in developing a regional plan as a potential Phase 2 effort. The Draft Final Report for Phase 1 can be found here.
California EcoRestore is an initiative to help coordinate and advance at least 30,000 acres of critical habitat restoration in the Sacramento – San Joaquin Delta over the next four years. Driven by world-class science and guided by adaptive management, California EcoRestore will aggressively pursue habitat restoration projects with clearly defined goals, measurable objectives, and financial resources to help ensure success.
A broad range of habitat restoration projects will be pursued, including projects to address aquatic, sub-tidal, tidal, riparian, flood plain, and upland ecosystem needs.
California EcoRestore’s initial goal is to advance (i.e. complete or break ground on) 30,000 acres of Delta habitat restoration:
- 25,000 acres associated with existing mandates for habitat restoration, pursuant to federal biological opinions. These projects will be funded exclusively by the state and federal water contractors that benefit from the State Water Project and the Central Valley Project systems.
- 5,000 acres of habitat enhancements. Proposition 1 grants to local governments, non-profit organizations, and other entities will support these habitat enhancements throughout the Delta. Funding will come primarily from the Delta Conservancy, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the California Department of Water Resources.
Additional priority restoration projects will be identified through regional and locally-led planning processes facilitated by the Delta Conservancy. Plans will be completed for the Cache Slough, West Delta, Cosumnes, and South Delta. Planning for the Suisun Marsh region is already complete and a process for integrated planning in the Yolo Bypass is underway. The Delta Conservancy will lead the implementation of identified restoration projects, in collaboration with local governments and with a priority on using public lands in the Delta.
California EcoRestore is unassociated with any habitat restoration that may be required as part of the construction and operation of new Delta water conveyance (California WaterFix).
Central Valley Flood Protection Plan (CVFPP)
The CVFPP is a comprehensive framework for systemwide flood management and flood risk reduction in the Sacramento and San Joaquin River Basins. Included in the 2012 CVFPP is the Conservation Framework, which provides direction for conservation planning in the context of flood management.
The Conservancy’s Strategic Plan must be consistent with the CVFPP. Additionally, the Conservancy may be a partner for the actions called for in the Conservation Framework.
Central Valley Integrated Flood Management Study (CVIFMS)
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), in conjunction with their non-federal sponsor, the California Department of Water Resources (DWR), will jointly implement the CVIFMS. The CVIFMS will define a long-range program for the Sacramento and San Joaquin River Basins and the corresponding level of federal participation. This program will identify opportunities to reduce flood risk by improving the flood capacity of the system while restoring and protecting floodplain and environmental features including wetlands and other fish and wildlife habitat.
The Conservancy may be a partner in implementing habitat restoration actions identified in the CVIFMS.
Coalition to Support Delta Projects
The Coalition to Support Delta Projects is an effort to vet near-term Delta projects with multiple Delta stakeholders and agencies – federal, State and local. The process resulted in a list of 65 projects that have widespread support.
The Conservancy participates in the meetings and has proposed four projects which were supported by the Coalition.
Delta Islands Feasibility Study
The feasibility study is the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ mechanism to participate in a cost-shared solution to a variety of water resources needs for which they have the authority. Results of the DWR’s Delta Risk Management Strategy (DRMS) studies will be used to define problems, opportunities, and specific planning objectives. The feasibility study will address flood risk management, ecosystem restoration, water quality, water supply, and a variety of other issues.
The Conservancy may be a partner in implementing the objectives called for in the feasibility study.
FloodSAFE Environmental Stewardship and Statewide Resources Office (FESSRO)
The mission of DWR’s FESSRO, is to implement integrated environmental stewardship and flood management statewide, through collaboration, sound science and innovative engineering. FESSRO includes three branches: Delta Levees and Environmental Engineering, Floodway Ecosystem Sustainability, and Environmental Restoration and Enhancement.
The Delta Plan
The Delta Stewardship Council’s Delta Plan is a legally enforceable plan that through its regulatory policies and recommendations seeks to improve California’s water supply reliability; protect and enhance the Delta ecosystem; protects and enhances the Delta as a unique and evolving place; improves water quality; reduces risk from floods; and sets an example by using “best available science.”
The Delta Plan contains several recommendations that call for action by the Conservancy.
Delta Science Plan
The Delta Science Plan is a framework for conducting science that organizes and integrates Delta science activities and builds an open collaborative science community. The Delta Science Plan sets a shared vision for Delta science and a living framework for guiding, organizing and integrating science in the Delta. It establishes the major elements, organizational structures, and key actions for improving the efficiency, utility and application of Delta Science across many agencies and institutions.
The Delta Science Plan identifies several areas of participation and primary responsibility for the Conservancy in implementing the called for actions.
Ecosystem Restoration Program Conservation Strategy
The Ecosystem Restoration Program (ERP) is a multi-agency effort aimed at improving and increasing aquatic and terrestrial habitats and ecological function in the Delta and its tributaries mainly by providing funding and project management. The Conservation Strategy serves as an update to the ERP Strategic Plan and follows the principle of a single-blueprint for ecosystem restoration and species recovery in accordance with the principles of ecosystem-based management.
The Conservancy will use the ERP Conservation Strategy as a guiding document when undertaking ecosystem restoration in the Delta.
Endangered Fish Species Biological Opinions
Biological Opinions were issued by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) in response to the general decline of several fish species, the Delta smelt and spring-run and winter-run salmon in particular. These opinions ultimately established requirements to be met by the State Water Project (SWP) and Central Valley Project to protect these species. These included requirements for Delta inflow and outflow, Delta Cross Channel gate closure, and reduced export pumping. New biological opinions issued in 2008 and 2009 modified some existing requirements and included fish habitat restoration requirements.
Fish Restoration Program Agreement (FRPA)
FRPA is an interagency agreement between the DWR and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) that addresses specific habitat restoration requirements of the biological opinions. FRPA is also intended to address the habitat requirements of the CDFW Longfin Smelt Incidental Take Permit (ITP) for SWP Delta operations. FRPA is focused on restoring 8,000 acres of intertidal and associated subtidal habitat in the Delta and Suisun Marsh to benefit delta smelt, 800 acres of low salinity habitat to benefit longfin smelt, and a number of related actions for salmonids.
The Conservancy meets bimonthly with the FRPA team to coordinate activities related to restoration in the Delta.
Local Habitat Conservation Plans (HCPs) and Natural Community Conservation Plans (NCCPs)
Local HCPs and NCCPs in the San Francisco Bay-Delta propose to allow for economic activities to continue while minimizing and mitigating the impact of authorized incidental take of the endangered or rare species that the plans cover and to conserve these species and their habitats. Completed plans in the Delta include the San Joaquin HCP and East Contra Costa HCP/NCCP. The Yolo Habitat HCP/NCCP, South Sacramento HCP, and Solano Multispecies HCP are still being developed.
One of the Conservancy’s twelve mandates is to assist local entities in the implementation of their HCPs and NCCPs.
Websites of draft and completed plans:
Suisun Marsh Habitat Management, Preservation and Restoration Plan (SMP)
The SMP is a comprehensive plan designed to address the various conflicts regarding use of marsh resources, with the focus on achieving an acceptable multi-stakeholder approach to restoring 5,000 to 7,000 acres of tidal wetlands and the management of managed wetlands and their functions consistent with the CALFED program, the Suisun Marsh Preservation Agreement, applicable species recovery plans, and other interagency goals.
The Conservancy’s Strategic Plan must be consistent with the SMP. The Conservancy may be a partner in implementing the SMP.