Proposition 1 Cycle 3 Active Grants

The Cycle 3 (Fiscal Year 2017-2018) projects that are moving forward under the Delta Conservancy’s Proposition 1 Ecosystem Restoration and Water Quality Grant Program are listed below.

Bay Point Habitat Restoration Project, $2,100,000, East Bay Regional Park District

Funding is conditionally approved for this project.

The Bay Point Habitat Restoration Project, led by the East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD), will restore ecological habitat at Bay Point Regional Shoreline Park.  Approximately 44 acres of wetland and grassland; 5,595 linear feet of low order saline emergent marsh channel; and 8,170 linear feet of terrestrial transition zone, will be restored within a 56.6-acre project area where past land uses filled historic tidal emergent marsh.  The project is located along the southern shoreline of Suisun Bay outside the boundaries of the Delta and Suisun Marsh, at the waterfront of the Bay Point Community, in northern Contra Costa County, California. The project will restore wetland, restore channel and restore grassland. These objectives will be accomplished by earthwork activities aimed at restoring the historic marsh plain and channels, seeding and planting the terrestrial transition zone and implementation of an extensive vegetation management plan focused on establishing target ecosystem land use types, including a weed detection and response plan. The project presents a valuable opportunity to hydrologically re-connect the site to the adjacent marsh and tidal slough complex; and, convert weedy low quality seasonal wetlands and ruderal land cover back to high value habitats including saline emergent marsh and associated tidal channels, grassland and upland transition zone. Current sea level rise projections indicate that a significant portion of the project area will likely be adversely affected, resulting in loss of marsh and transitional habitats.  The project presents an opportunity to design and construct resilient upland, transition and upland habitats to help offset these impacts.

Mitchell Trust Farm Multi-Species Habitat Conservation Easement Acquisition, $2,829,718, Yolo Habitat Conservancy

Funding is conditionally approved for this project.

The YHC will acquire a permanent multi-species habitat conservation easement on the 275.31-acre Mitchell Trust Farm property, owned by Cornelius Vander Eyk. The property is within the legal Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta in Yolo County. The property shares both its southern and eastern borders with the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area, an area already protected for wildlife habitat purposes, and therefore will expand permanent protection in an important wildlife corridor. The property provides high quality foraging habitat for Swainson’s hawk, white-tailed kite, and tricolored blackbird; and, hosts two nesting pairs of burrowing owls.The easement will sustain wildlife-friendly agriculture and protect existing habitat consistent with the conservation strategy of the draft Yolo Habitat Conservation Plan/Natural Community Conservation Plan (Yolo HCP/NCCP). (The YHC will finalize the Yolo HCP/NCCP in 2018.) The Yolo HCP/NCCP is a countywide conservation plan to provide Endangered Species Act permits and associated mitigation for infrastructure and development activities identified for construction over the next 50 years in Yolo County, as well as permanent habitat conservation beyond mitigation. The proposed easement will count towards the conservation component of the Yolo HCP/NCCP (it is not associated with mitigation), will be included in the Yolo HCP/NCCP reserve system, and the YHC will work with the landowner to manage the land in perpetuity consistent with the easement and the management plan. The YHC used a rigorous process to identify the property as a conservation priority. The Yolo HCP/NCCP conservation strategy is based on biological criteria and results from over 15 years of work with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service  (USFWS) and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). After the previous landowner approached the YHC regarding the sale of an easement, the YHC’s Science and Technical Advisory Committee, composed of volunteer biologists, visited the property, completed a biological evaluation (both qualitative and quantitative), and recommended the property to the YHC for inclusion in the Yolo HCP/NCCP reserve system. The YHC Board of Directors formally approved the property for inclusion in the reserve system.

Stone Lakes Restoration Project, $635,573, Ducks Unlimited

Funding is conditionally approved for this project.

As the grantee, Ducks Unlimited (DU) will implement the planning phase for an Ecosystem Restoration and Enhancement Project on behalf and in coordination with the Serra Family Trust and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service on both private (Serra Family Trust) and federally owned land (Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge). Ducks Unlimited staff, subconsultants, and USFWS will develop engineering design documents, environmental documents (CEQA and NEPA), permit applications and all necessary supporting reports and documentation. The result of which will be virtually a shovel ready project well beyond the minimum project development to submit for Implementation funding. Nearly 95 percent of historic wetlands have been lost in California’s central valley, thereby putting greater pressure on the remaining wetlands to provide much needed resources for wetland dependent species. The restoration and creation of new wetland habitat is vital to the long-term success of several listed and endangered species as well as non-listed wetland dependent species. The Project Goal is to maximize faunal diversity (predominantly birds) through a diversity of constructed wetland types, plant associations and support food web development. Ultimately the outcome of the Project will be the restoration of approximately 257 acres of seasonal wetland, restoration of 39 acres is riparian seasonal wetland and enhancement of 20 acres of existing low-quality wetland. These restored and enhanced wetlands will be managed to provide optimum conditions for wetland dependent species such as waterfowl, neo-tropical migratory birds, shorebirds and other water birds such as Greater Sandhill cranes, and to some extent giant garter snake. As well as provide other critical functions of wetlands such as hydrologic and water quality functions and services.

Three Creeks Parkway Restoration Project #2, $999,318, American River

Funding is reserved for this project.

American Rivers (AR) 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) have been working together for over three years to design and permit 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 13.5 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 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 proposal is for funds to augment the budget and add an indispensable new element to the Three Creeks Parkway Project previously funded by the Delta Conservancy. This new element of the project will expand the project to incorporate the Carmel Estates water quality basin adding one acre of restored vegetation along 500 feet on the west bank of Marsh Creek, bring the area of the total project up to 13.5 acres.  Expanding the project into the Carmel Estates water quality basin is necessary to provide adequate flood conveyance and enhance the overall ecological function of the Three Creeks Project.  Due to a sewer line that limits channel widening on the west bank and changes in modeling assumptions, flood conveyance is a significant constraint on the overall project. The Flood Control District is obligated to safely convey the 50 year flood with three feet of freeboard, which is more stringent than conveying the 100-year flood.  Design options to meet this protective standard include significantly limiting the amount of riparian vegetation planted along the low flow channel or to expand the channel into the detention basin to increase the flood conveyance capacity.  Limiting vegetation would not only reduce the ecological benefits of the project, but would increase long-term maintenance costs because the Flood Control District would need to limit growth of vegetation in perpetuity.

Restoration Planning at River Garden Farms, $661,189, American Rivers

Funding is conditionally approved for this project.

This Project provides a unique opportunity to restore ecosystem function in floodplain, wetland, and riparian habitats along the Sacramento River on a large working farm and provide habitat connectivity within a matrix of intensive agriculture. Projects developed as part of this planning proposal will help recover Chinook salmon and steelhead, Swainson’s hawk, giant garter snake, and up to 26 of the focal bird species identified in the State Wildlife Action Plan. Other benefits provided by restoration projects at River Garden Farms (RGF) include agricultural sustainability, improved water quality, and climate change resiliency. While this project provides a unique opportunity to work together in a manner that improves habitat, stakeholders including flood control agencies, wildlife agencies, farmers and conservationists have disagreed over how to manage this reach of the Sacramento River for decades. The US Army Corps of Engineers’ Sacramento Bank Protection Project destroyed habitat along many miles of the Sacramento River, eventually prompting regulatory agencies to more heavily regulate levee maintenance activities. Due to frustrations with regulatory burdens that some viewed as impediments to levee safety, the Central Valley Flood Protection Board (CVFPB), local levee districts, and many farmers historically resisted efforts to improve habitat in regulatory floodways for fear that the improvements would impede flood flows and necessary maintenance. But new floodplain science, the 2017 Central Valley Flood Protection Plan (CVFPP) Update, AB 2087, and some enlightened landowners together offer hope for a new era of collaboration to simultaneously restore habitat and improve flood management. RGF is well positioned to serve surrounding farmers and communities as a model for successfully integrating conservation on working lands. The Project team is made up of NGOs that have initiated a partnership with RGF to help develop and advance projects and practices that enhance the conservation value of the farm. The Project will conduct coordinated restoration planning on 550 acres for seven different project sites at RGF representing a diverse mosaic of habitats, provide recommendations for habitat-friendly farming practices compatible with working landscapes, and work with RGF to identify appropriate opportunities to fund implementation. This effort will result in restoration projects that are ready for final design, final permitting, and implementation. The project team’s long-term goal is to improve the function and connectivity of aquatic habitat on working landscapes in the Central Valley by integrating ag-compatible restoration and conservation into farm practices and management, thereby providing a model for ecological and economic resiliency.

Grizzly Slough Floodplain Restoration Project at the Cosumnes River Preserve, $8,700,800, Department of Water Resources

Funding is reserved for this project.

Over 90% of historic wetlands and riparian forest have been lost in the Central Valley due to habitat conversion and levees that cut off hydrologic processes. The Grizzly Slough Floodplain Restoration Project at the Cosumnes River Preserve (Project) will restore wetland and riparian habitat by reintroducing tidal and seasonal flooding and establishing native vegetation. The site (489 acres owned by DWR, managed by Preserve) is on the lower Cosumnes River, Sacramento County. This is a rare place where elevation, unregulated flows, intact sediment supply, and ownership provide opportunities to restore floodplain processes. Existing land use includes dryland agriculture (283 ac), cottonwood and valley oak, ruderal vegetation, coyote brush scrub, and two prior riparian mitigation projects (70 ac). The Project will restore natural flooding to the site by breaching the levee on Grizzly Slough. A channel network will be excavated from the breach. A new setback levee will be constructed along the south property boundary to provide equivalent flood protection pre- and post-project. The levee will include flap-gated drainage culverts to allow one-way drainage from south to north (in the downstream direction). Hydrologic modeling indicates the restored areas will experience winter flooding every 2-5 years, suitable for riparian recruitment. The channels will be graded to maintain tidal flows year-round, with no floodplain ponding that could strand salmonids. Native vegetation will be established by natural recruitment (emergents in channel, cottonwood on floodplain) and planting. Floodplain areas above mean higher high water (MHHW) will be drill seeded with native grasses to forestall weeds, with patches of herbaceous and woody plants planted to jumpstart riparian establishment. The floodplain’s long-term trajectory will be riparian forest. An agricultural zone (157 ac) will be established on higher elevation south area, and enhanced with new water supply infrastructure to allow cultivation of irrigated crops (corn) to provide wildlife benefits and revenue. Long-term management (weed control, monitoring) will be accomplished by Preserve staff, with funding from the agricultural lease. The project will restore freshwater emergent tidal wetlands in the tidal zone (3 ac, including ~3000 linear feet of tidal channels), seasonal wetland (12 ac), and valley foothill riparian (91 ac) on the floodplain above MHHW. Returning natural hydrologic processes will also enhance existing riparian (71 ac). The exact breakdown by habitat type may vary slightly from the numbers provided above based on final design refinements; however, the total restoration (106 ac) and enhancement acreage (228 ac) will remain the same. Restored acreages exclude prior mitigation areas, which will benefit incidentally from natural flooding. Project will benefit species such as floodplain-rearing juvenile Chinook salmon, riparian-nesting Swainson’s hawk, and foraging sandhill cranes.

Nutria Eradication Project, $1,125,577, California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Nutria (Myocastor coypus) are large, semi-aquatic rodents, native to South America and highly invasive in the United States: a California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) A-rated pest and CDFW [detrimental] restricted animal (14 CCR § 671). In March 2017 a pregnant nutria was captured in a wetland southeast of Gustine, Merced County. Following the detection, an Interagency Nutria Response Team convened, which has since captured 17 additional nutria and documented 14 additional confirmed and potential sightings. To date, nutria have been confirmed in the Merced River, San Joaquin River/Salt Slough, private wetlands southeast of Gustine, San Luis National Wildlife Refuge, and Atwell Island property near Alpaugh (as of 11/30/17). Nutria are capable of rapidly expanding populations and disperse as far as 50 mi. Nutria are notorious for their ecological and economic impacts, causing extensive damage to wetlands, riparian habitat, restoration efforts, levees and other infrastructure, agriculture crops, and water supplies, as well as for exacerbating invasive plant infestations such as Arundo donax. The ecosystems, infrastructure, and resources, both the Central Valley and Delta regions rely on are immediately threatened by this discovery and the alarming expansion of known distribution. The purpose of this project is to delineate, contain, and eradicate nutria in California before the population and its distribution become exceedingly large and the impacts realized in other states become reality in California. Modeled after the successful Chesapeake Bay Nutria Eradication Project, we propose to implement a 5-phase adaptive management strategy, applied to 1-m2 (640-ac) management units within shifting buffers around all nutria detections. An active management zone in which trapping, high-frequency monitoring, and long-term surveillance, will be maintained within a 5-mi buffer around all detections (captures and potential sightings/sign). Less frequent (monthly to quarterly) surveying will be conducted within the 5 to 20-mi buffer around detections. We will utilize contracted specialist trappers, CDFW staff, Interagency Team partners, and an extensive network of County Agricultural Commissioners, Resource Conservation Districts, gun clubs, conservation organizations, and private landowners to implement widespread surveys, trapping, and long-term (15-year) surveillance. While we expect this to be a costly and labor-intensive project, given the inherent ecology of invasions and history of nutria in the U.S., this comprehensive effort is necessary to eradicate the population before range expansion reaches the Delta and the population becomes too large to eradicate. This project will result in the protection of numerous miles of levee and infrastructure, restoration sites, wetland and riparian habitats, and conservation lands, and prevent increased soil erosion and sedimentation likely to impact anadromous fishes in Delta tributaries.  

Knightsen Wetland Restoration and Flood Protection Project, $1,225,000, East Contra Costa County Habitat Conservancy

Funding is conditionally approved for this project.

This Knightsen Wetland Restoration and Flood Protection Project is located in the community of Knightsen in unincorporated Contra Costa County in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta on a generally flat plain along the Delta shoreline.  Historically, the area drained as sheet flow and in shallow channels to wetlands that lined the fringe of the Delta. The flat topography of the area, combined with a variety of constructed features such as railroad tracks, roads, and levees, prevent water from reaching a natural outlet and results in frequent flooding of the community and adjacent agricultural fields. The flooding and the associated contamination of ground and surface waters from contaminants in agricultural tailwater and overflowing septic systems has been an ongoing problem that has negatively impacted human health, agriculture, water quality and habitat.A large portion of community of Knightsen is a disadvantaged community (per block group layer https://gis.water.ca.gov/app/dacs/) and the area regularly floods. This project, when constructed, will provide flood protection to the surrounding community, as well as other benefits of improved water quality, open space, habitat restoration for special status species, and recreation opportunities. A 645-acre property identified as one of the best locations for the treatment wetlands was acquired by the East Contra Costa County Habitat Conservancy and the East Bay Regional Park District in January 2016. Funding for the acquisition of this property was secured from the Federal Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund, Proposition 84 funds administered by the Wildlife Conservation Board, and funds from the East Bay Regional Park District.  Since the late 1990s, Contra Costa County funded a number of studies to identify solutions to the on-going flooding problems in the community. These studies identified parcels to store stormwater and a 2002 flood protection feasibility study contemplated the possibility of an ambitious restoration project (bioswales).  Working with the East Contra Costa County Habitat Conservancy, the San Francisco Estuary Institute released the comprehensive East Contra Costa County Historical Ecology Study in November 2012. This study precisely mapped historical land cover in the area for the first time and led to some surprising findings related to the project area.  The study demonstrated that the project area, which is now almost entirely cultivated land, once contained a striking mosaic of tidal wetland, alkali wetland/meadow, oak savanna, and rare interior sand dune. While it may not be possible to rewind the clock, the new study identifies the potential for an extensive restoration project that could include multiple types of restored wetlands as well as restored dunes and oak savanna that can support special status species. This restoration is compatible with providing much needed flood protection to the community of Knightsen.

Bees Lakes Habitat Restoration Plan, $592,500, City of West Sacramento

Funding is conditionally approved for this project.

The purpose of the Bees Lakes Habitat Restoration Plan is to restore disturbed riparian habitat, control non-native species, improve pond water quality, improve the ability of the Bees Lakes area to support listed species, and minimize its potential to adversely affect public safety by better managing recreational access. If off-channel habitat can be restored, this project would represent a unique opportunity to provide new habitat within the tidal limits of the Delta for listed fish species including salmon and steelhead and to connect two riverine habitat restoration projects being constructed on the Sacramento River. Also, better management of public access within the Bees Lakes area is necessary to ensure habitats are not further degraded, that restored habitat is maintained over the long term, that public health and safety are protected, and that human activities are limited to well-defined passive recreation. The Bees Lakes were originally created due to a breach in the levee adjacent to the Sacramento River. Due to the degradation of these lakes associated with uncontrolled human activities, WSAFCA evaluated their restoration as an alternative in the Southport Early Implementation Project (Southport EIP) EIR/EIS. However, due to cost constraints, WSAFCA did not pursue this restoration as part of their current Southport construction efforts.  The goal of this planning effort is to identify a detailed Habitat Restoration Plan for the Bees Lakes area that will restore historic physical and ecological processes to optimize habitat function, enhance the existing habitat to better meet listed species needs, improve the water quality within the ponds, remove potential environmental contaminants, and improve public access management.  The primary objectives of this planning effort are to develop a range of habitat restoration alternatives based on the best available science and stakeholder input, to select a stakeholder-supported habitat restoration plan that enhances physical and ecological processes, to complete the necessary CEQA documentation, and to prepare 65-percent design plans for the selected alternative with sufficient detail to qualify for an implementation funding grant as an implementable Proposition 1 habitat restoration project.


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