Delta Public Lands Strategy
Guidance for Conservation and Sustainability Across
the West, Central, and Northeast Delta

Through 2018, the Delta Conservancy coordinated a public planning process to develop an integrated conservation strategy for publicly-funded lands in the west, central, and northeast Delta. This collaborative planning process brought together landowners, agencies, and interested stakeholders to develop a high-level strategy for connecting investments in habitat conservation, flood protection and levee improvement, land management, and recreation and tourism to maximize benefits to the Delta ecosystem, regional economy, and water quality. This project was initially called the Central Delta Corridor Partnership.

Public Planning Process

A working group of public landowners, agencies, and local experts met six times in 2018 to review conservation plans and principles for publicly-funded lands in the region, guided by prior conservation research and planning for the Delta. Both expert and community input were critical elements of developing this strategy. The centerpiece of the process was a one-and-a-half-day design charrette, at which approximately 70 experts, landowners, community members, and agency staff reviewed conservation opportunities and concepts, and discussed regional needs and objectives, economic sustainability, and potential constraints and impacts. The charrette was preceded by a local workshop attended by approximately 50 community members.

The Results

The public engagement process with Delta landowners, stakeholders, agencies, and experts provided valuable input and guidance that shaped the Delta Public Lands Strategy. The planning process culminated in a comprehensive report that explores the conservation opportunities on public lands, as well as opportunities for those investments to contribute to other important benefits for the region, including flood management, sustainable agriculture, recreation and tourism, and the regional economy.

Click here to view the Delta Public Lands Strategy report (PDF link).

The Delta Public Lands Strategy includes an example conservation vision that could restore and connect important habitats in the area and provide other valuable regional benefits. The report describes an overall Public Lands Strategy Goal:

Public landowners will coordinate to manage public lands at the landscape scale to improve Delta ecological functions and the overall economic viability of the region.

The report also documents six integrated priorities, for which there was broad agreement among participants:

  1. Protect and enhance desired ecological functions
  2. Stop and reverse subsidence on deeply-subsided islands
  3. Reduce flood risk
  4. Demonstrate opportunities and strategies to increase agricultural sustainability
  5. Protect and enhance Delta water quality and water supply
  6. Support and improve recreation opportunities and contribute to the regional economy

Looking Ahead

The public landowners see value in continued coordination and adaptation as island and tract plans develop, conditions change, and policies evolve. Therefore, they intend to continue to work with governing and regulatory organizations, other landowners, and additional interested parties to improve implementation approaches toward the following goals:

  • Coordinated actions and investments to maximize resource benefits and achieve implementation efficiencies
  • Coordinated and simplified review and approval processes for projects that provide multiple benefits for the region
  • Use of management incentives and public-private partnerships to increase efficiency and effectiveness
  • Consideration and mitigation of significant adverse impacts that result from actions and investments
  • Transparency and accountability to reduce conflicts and build support for multi-benefit investments

The Delta Conservancy intends to continue and sustain the constructive dialogue and coordination necessary for collective action toward the goals and priorities outlined in the Delta Public Lands Strategy. The Delta Conservancy and participating organizations have presented the final report to their respective management and governing leaders to receive guidance and support for continued coordination, planning, and implementation.

Additional Background

The following entities own and manage approximately 50,000 acres of land in the Delta, and share many common regional objectives including flood management, agriculture sustainability, and conservation of aquatic, avian and terrestrial resources.

  • The Nature Conservancy
  • Metropolitan Water District of Southern California
  • California Department of Water Resources
  • California Department of Parks and Recreation
  • California Waterfowl Association
  • Bureau of Land Management
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • California Department of Fish and Wildlife

In recognition of their capital Delta investments, the historical legacy of the Delta, and the State’s policies to rehabilitate the Delta ecosystem, these entities are seeking to collaborate with each other and additional interested parties to achieve common goals and objectives. These partners believe that creation and enhancement of wildlife habitat, levee improvements and maintenance, and sustainable agriculture can work together to provide benefits to target species, flood protection, water quality, and local economic and social vitality.

The development of the Delta Public Lands Strategy was informed by previous work relating to the corridor and surrounding area, including the San Francisco Estuary Institute’s Aquatic Science Center Delta Renewed project, North Delta Improvements planning, Joint Venture planning, the Conservation Opportunity Region description included in the Delta Conservation Framework, and the Delta Plan. Further, the resulting strategy is a living document that should be reviewed and revised at regular intervals based on learning from actions taken within an adaptive management framework.

For more information on the Delta Public Lands Strategy, please contact the Delta Conservancy at (email link) or (916) 375-2084.