Proposition 1 Cycle 1 Active Grants
The Fiscal Year 2015-2016 projects that are moving forward under the Delta Conservancy’s Prop 1 Ecosystem Restoration and Water Quality Grant Program are listed below.
This project addresses regional and Delta priorities and objectives, bringing together a deep partnership to restore a portion of the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area (YBWA) in the Yolo Basin. Working with the California Department of Fish & Wildlife (CDFW), the local Resource Conservation District (RCD), the Yolo Basin Foundation (YBF), Putah Creek Council (PCC), the Center for Land-Based Learning (CLBL), Point Blue Conservation Science, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), California Conservation Corps (CCC), UC Davis, lease holding farmers and ranchers, and the general public, Yolo County Resource Conservation District (YCRCD) proposes 2 goals: 1) Address wildlife flood-safety problems and enhance year round habitat in the YBWA; 2) Use regional partnerships to implement a pilot restoration program to provide educational opportunities and create public connections to habitat restoration in the Delta. The project creates corridors in the YBWA to provide multiple benefits: wildlife habitat compatible with floodway management; wildlife escape cover from advancing flood water; habitat to support groundwater recharge and GHG reductions through use of deep-rooted native perennial plants; and increased awareness and appreciation of the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area and its many values and functions. Five miles/22 acres of new habitat in two corridors will provide cover for wildlife escaping flood events; enhance year-round habitat for migratory birds, pollinators and other wildlife; and provide a public-access demonstration planting. This work will be the first partner-based effort to integrate new wildlife habitat with ongoing agricultural operations on the property. Wildlife use of the habitat corridors will be monitored to measure success and inform future restoration efforts. Proposed restoration sites are a mixture of grazed and unmanaged grasslands consisting primarily of annual grass and noxious invasive weeds. Treatment of noxious plant species will support a diverse mix of regionally appropriate native plant species. Engagement with the regional community through organized field days involving high school students and community volunteers in hands-on learning about restoration and planting native plants in the corridor areas will expose the public to usually off limits parts of the bypass, expanding awareness and understanding of the area’s importance for flood safety, agriculture and wildlife. At project completion, a 2.7 mile Corridor North, 2.2 mile Corridor, South, demonstration planting, project assessment and wildlife monitoring data will help guide next restoration steps will enhance the YBWA. 3 high school field days and 12 community volunteer stewardship events will have engaged hundreds of participants in project implementation, creating enhanced awareness and appreciation of the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area and its values and functions.
American Rivers and its partners, the Friends of Marsh Creek Watershed (FOMCW), the Contra Costa County Flood Control and Water Conservation District (District), and the City of Brentwood (City), propose a multi-benefit ecosystem restoration project at the confluence of Marsh, Sand, and Deer Creeks (Three Creeks) to convert a denuded flood control channel into a healthy riparian corridor. The Three Creeks Parkway Restoration Project will restore native vegetation on 12.5 acres along nearly a mile of Marsh Creek, and floodplain and riparian habitat along 4,000 linear feet of creek. These restoration actions will increase flood protection and contribute to achieving water quality objectives in the Delta. The project will also maximize voluntary landowner participation: all of the project site landowners are involved in and supportive of proposed efforts. The project team’s overall goal is to reestablish the thriving habitat and functional floodplains that are at the heart of healthy creek and wetland ecosystems. The proposed project will greatly enhance the habitat and resilience of the Marsh Creek watershed ecosystem, including increasing resilience to climate change. It will also improve the quality of life for Delta residents in one of the most densely developed areas of the Delta by reducing flood risk, improving recreational opportunities, and providing a place to make meaningful connections with the natural world of the Delta region. This project is an early step in a larger effort by a collaborative team to restore and improve habitat along the entire length of Marsh Creek from Mount Diablo to the Delta.
The Marsh Creek watershed, located in eastern Contra Costa County, provides an important ecological corridor in a burgeoning urban area of the Delta region. Unfortunately, the watershed is significantly degraded, provides limited habitat and contributes polluted run-off to the Delta. Over the past 15 years, American Rivers’ staff has been working with partners in the region to realize a large-scale, multi-benefit vision to improve habitat, water quality, flood protection and recreational opportunities along the watershed’s creeks. Although some important progress has been made, a piecemeal approach to planning and permitting has been a significant bottleneck. The pace and scale of restoration and conservation are not keeping up with urban development. In the next few years, a confluence of significant opportunities could allow for the restoration of Marsh and Sand Creeks and the treatment of stormwater runoff. However, under status quo conditions, these opportunities could be buried under the next wave of urbanization that is rolling over the watershed. American Rivers and its partners propose a two-prong strategic approach to increasing the pace and scale of restoration and advancing specific on-the-ground efforts: 1) develop a programmatic CEQA document for the lower Marsh and Sand Creek watersheds that will facilitate permitting of multi-benefit projects; and 2) improve stormwater management and ensure it’s integrated with creek restoration. This approach will allow project proponents to advance and implement many restoration and water quality opportunities that have been identified in the last few years. The outcomes anticipated as a result of this approach include: 1) water quality is improved in Marsh and Sand Creeks and their receiving waters, the Delta; 2) flood management and ecosystem resilience to climate change is improved for Delta communities; 3) restored urban greenways are created along Marsh and Sand Creek from the Diablo Range to the Delta; 4) flood protection is improved and riparian habitat is restored in Marsh and Sand Creek; and 5) expedite implementation of projects consistent with the Delta Conservancy’s Strategic Plan and the purposes of Proposition 1.
The proposed project is a category 1 planning grant application to advance plans for a new flood bypass that will reduce flood risk, improve habitat and maintain agricultural land along the San Joaquin River south of Paradise Cut. This bypass was identified as a priority in the Delta Stewardship Council’s Delta Plan. The new bypass will: Substantially reduce flood stage (1.5 – 3 feet) on the mainstem San Joaquin between Mossdale and Stockton; reduce risk of catastrophic flooding in Lathrop, Manteca, Stockton, and unincorporated San Joaquin County; substantially increase flood conveyance capacity of the San Joaquin floodway; provide floodplain and riparian habitat for a variety of sensitive species including riparian brush rabbit, giant garter snake, Sacramento splittail, and juvenile Chinook salmon; and preserve agricultural land and protect it from uncontrolled flooding. This proposal is focused on: Fully developing conceptual plans and a project description sufficient for advancing a CEQA/NEPA analysis; identifying, analyzing, and advancing near-term restoration projects associated with Paradise Cut; quantifying costs and benefits so that flood managers and other potential implementation funders can make better investment decisions; determining a strategy to expedite a successful Section 408 permit (Section 14 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 and codified in 33 USC 408, commonly referred to as “Section 408”); completing a finance strategy for subsequent project phases, including project implementation and long-term operations and maintenance; completing a detailed scope of work and budget for NEPA/CEQA analysis; informing local residents and officials so they understand the pros and cons of the project. The project team has also submitted a separate proposal to the Conservancy for a category 2 acquisition grant to purchase flood easements in the Paradise Cut expansion area.
The proposed acquisition project is the first implementation phase of a larger effort to establish a new flood bypass that will reduce flood risk, improve habitat and maintain agricultural land along the San Joaquin River south of Paradise Cut. This proposal is focused on acquiring flood and conservation easements to build the bypass. The specific outputs and outcomes of this phase include: Final appraisals and all necessary reviews from the Department of General Services; options are purchased for flood and conservation easements on up to 2,000 acres; the Department of Water Resources and other funding agencies join with the Delta Conservancy in financing acquisition of up to 2,000 acres; and easements are purchased and recorded. The easements will protect habitat for species like Swainson’s hawk whether the flood bypass is built or not. Funding from the Delta Conservancy and other agencies will make it possible to execute all the options and purchase easements at fair market value, as well as provide critical seed money to secure significant contributions from DWR and others. Once the San Joaquin County Resource Conservation District (SJCRCD) has obtained approval from DGS for the purchase price based on a fair market appraisal and secured all of the agreements and funds necessary to complete a transaction on one or more parcels, the SJCRCD will request the Conservancy transfer $2 million into an escrow account that will close when all of the paperwork is finalized to transfer interest in an easement on one or more parcels. The project team has also submitted a proposal to the Delta Conservancy for a planning grant to initiate environmental compliance for the expanded bypass under NEPA and CEQA.
The Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area Habitat and Drainage Improvement Project will provide new and enhanced habitat for migrating waterfowl and other species, improve agricultural sustainability and wildlife-friendly agricultural practices, and increase public access opportunities through the construction of drainage and water infrastructure improvements in the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area. The Project is the top priority in the 2014 Yolo Bypass Drainage and Water Infrastructure Improvement Study, developed collaboratively with local agencies, farmers, wetlands managers, and other stakeholders. The Project will create 220 acres of new wetlands and improve water management on 1,250 acres of existing wetlands and 540 acres of agricultural land. The Project will also increase public access by an average of 7 days per year by reducing localized flooding resulting from insufficient capacity in the existing drainage and water supply system.
The Delta suffers from several water quality problems related to agriculture including pesticide pollution and low dissolved oxygen (DO). Organochlorine pesticides, although removed from use in 1972, remain in agricultural soils. Organophosphate pesticides are used widely in the Delta. Low DO found in many locations can result from algal blooms as a result of fertilizer/nutrient runoff. Improving water quality in the Delta requires recognizing that sources of pollutants are distributed throughout the Delta and that there are many pathways for pollutants to reach waterways. Source control of these pollutants requires changing cultivation and agricultural practices in as many locations as possible. The Fish Friendly Farming (FFF) Certification Program is a voluntary program which has enrolled over 140,000 acres of agricultural lands in eight counties in California. The FFF program has already developed Beneficial Management Practices (BMPs) to improve water quality for winegrapes, peaches, pears, nectarines, plums, strawberries, apples, walnuts, cherries and livestock grazing. This proposal will produce a version of the FFF program for the Delta. The FFF program will provide for reduction of nonpoint sources through collaborative efforts with growers to change cultivation and land management practices. This approach has the greatest potential to produce long term improvements. An Advisory Committee of growers and agricultural organizations will review the draft farm plan template and BMP workbooks.
The proposed planning project will advance the restoration up to 1,600 acres of palustrine emergent wetlands. The restoration project is located on a portion of Sherman Island which is owned by California Department of Water Resources (DWR). The property is currently managed for flood irrigated pasture and includes a regular and extensive disturbance regime associated with field prepping, disking, and grazing. The restoration project focuses on the restoration of palustrine emergent wetlands, complemented with upland riparian forest, scrub shrub, and grassland to add diversity of structure and habitat to the site. Restoration of wetlands will be accomplished by upgrading existing water management infrastructure and installing new infrastructure such as water control structures and water conveyance channels and swales. The restoration project will combine the wildlife benefits of wetland restoration with the importance of reversing Delta island subsidence. Upland vegetation will be planted on a higher elevation area adjacent to the wetland. The purpose of the wetland sequestration restoration projects is to reverse subsidence by capturing atmospheric carbon and converting it to organic material which in turn creates new soils surface material. Subsided Delta islands are like bowls and if tule wetlands are constructed and permanently flooded, these bowls over time will fill up with rhizome root material (or Carbon). For the proposed planning project, DU will utilize the topographic survey that will be collected by DWR to develop the conceptual, 30% and 60% engineering designs collaboratively with DWR. Additionally DU staff will conduct a wetland delineation of the project area to facilitate submission of the US ACOE 404 permit and other environmental documents. The wetland delineation also functions as a baseline for wetland acres, of which new acres will be identified. The outcome of grant related activities will produce a wetland delineation, report and map, as well as a 60% engineering design.