News Worth Noting: Sacramento River spawning habitat restoration underway; San Joaquin River Restoration Program flow releases; Sonoma County partners secure $8M USDA grant to build drought, climate change resiliency

Sacramento River Spawning Habitat Restoration Underway

From the Bureau of Reclamation, Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District, Western Shasta Resource Conservation District, California Department of Water Resources, and California Department of Fish and Wildlife

salmon projectThe Bureau of Reclamation, in partnership with Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District, Western Shasta Resource Conservation District, California Department of Water Resources, and California Department of Fish and Wildlife is preparing to place salmonid spawning gravel in the Sacramento River, immediately below the Anderson Cottonwood Irrigation District Diversion Dam and Market Street Bridge, in Redding.

Beginning the week of Feb. 15, 2016, work is scheduled to take place weekdays between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m., and is expected to be completed around March 18, 2016, weather depending. The project will place approximately 8,500 cubic yards of gravel into the river to help improve spawning habitat for Chinook salmon and steelhead trout. The project is a continuing effort to help meet requirements of the Central Valley Project Improvement Act to restore and replenish spawning gravel and rearing habitat for salmonid species.

The environmental documents may be viewed at http://www.usbr.gov/mp/nepa/nepa_projdetails.cfm?Project_ID=23758.

San Joaquin River Restoration Program Water Year 2016 Restoration Administrator Recommendations for Provisional Flow Releases

Restoration flows to begin on Monday, February 15

sjrrpThis notice is to inform you of the commencement of Restoration Flows for the current Water Year (WY) 2016 as recommended by the SJRRP Restoration Administrator. Reclamation will increase water releases from Friant Dam beginning at approximately noon Monday, February 15, which will be routed down the San Joaquin River past Gravelly Ford. Restoration Flows are not expected to reach Mendota Pool during the month of February.

Because of uncertainty in the forecasted runoff amount and uncertainty in the Central Valley Project’s South–of–Delta pumping schedule, there was inadequate water supply behind Friant Dam to issue a full Restoration Allocation at the time. Therefore, a Provisional Allocation was provided to the Restoration Administrator allowing for Restoration Flows only in the month of February. The Restoration Administrator has recommended a volume of 2,380 acre-feet for flows in February. Subsequent allocations may extend Restoration Flows from March onward.

Table — Restoration Administrator flow schedule based on a Provisional Restoration Allocation issued on January 29, 2016, all values in cubic feet per second (cfs). Release at Friant Dam may be higher than estimated due to channel infiltration losses or other factors.

Date Estimated Flow Release from Friant Dam (cfs) Estimated Flows Required to Satisfy San Joaquin River Holding Contracts (cfs) Restoration Flow Target at Gravelly Ford (cfs)
February 15–29 180 100 80
March 1 onward No Restoration Flows scheduled at this time No Restoration Flows scheduled at this time No Restoration Flows scheduled at this time

The WY 2016 Restoration Flows will be utilized to evaluate techniques for juvenile Chinook salmon capture and transport, monitor infiltration losses in the San Joaquin River, and to potentially provide year-round river connectivity. If Restoration Flows are continued past February and increased in flow rate, they will be routed to Mendota Pool and potentially past Sack Dam, through the Eastside Bypass, and to the confluence with the Merced River. Such flows would be coordinated with downstream operators. Subsequent notifications will be issued if Restoration Flows will continue into March or are increased.

Reclamation will regularly evaluate releases at Friant Dam to achieve the flow target at Gravelly Ford. These flows are consistent with the Stipulation of Settlement, will not impact senior water rights, and will be limited such that no flooding or seepage impacts are expected to occur. Reclamation will reduce Restoration Flows as necessary should information from landowners or groundwater monitoring wells indicate that impacts may be occurring. Reclamation maintains a Seepage Hotline at 916-978-4398.

Sonoma County Partners Secure $8 Million USDA Grant to Build Drought, Climate Change Resiliency

From the Sonoma County Water Agency:

A regional collaboration of resource agencies learned today that it will receive an $8 million grant to protect agricultural lands and ecosystems for drought and climate resiliency. The initiative is funded by the US Department of Agriculture, through its Natural Resources Conservation Service’s (NRCS) Regional Conservation Partnership Program and supports the five-year “Venture Conservation Program,” which focuses on substantive improvements in Russian River water quality, groundwater levels, wildlife habitat and flows in key creeks and streams.

“I was thrilled to bring together 30 partners to achieve the Venture Conservation Program. The grant is built on a venture capital model that provides seed funding that is matched two-to-one at the local level,” said Sonoma County Supervisor James Gore, who also is a director for the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation & Open Space District and Sonoma County Water Agency. “This collaboration will provide us a generational platform to solve Sonoma County’s core natural resource problems.”

The partnership is led by Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation & Open Space District (Agricultural Preservation & Open Space District) with support from core team partners of Sonoma Resource Conservation District (Sonoma RCD), Gold Ridge Resource Conservation District (Gold Ridge RCD), Sonoma County Water Agency (Water Agency) and Pepperwood Dwight Center for Conservation Science (Pepperwood). An advisory team of agricultural, business, agency, environmental and conservation partners will support and expand on the core team’s collaboration.

“Open space land is key in providing resiliency in the future, when droughts and floods are likely to be more frequent and severe. The grant will focus on protecting and enhancing those lands that provide groundwater recharge and that are key to abundant stream flows,” said Gore.

The majority of the funding will be used to purchase conservation easements from willing sellers on agricultural land along stream corridors, in areas that allow water to recharge groundwater basins and in areas that can hold flood water. These areas are foundational to Sonoma County agriculture and will help farmers and the environment to withstand the threat of droughts and climate change.

“This grant recognizes the importance of agriculture to our economy and way of life. It also demonstrates that farming and natural resource protection are not mutually exclusive. Healthy agriculture land can help replenish groundwater aquifers and improve water quality,” said Kara Heckert, Executive Director of the Sonoma RCD.

The targeted conservation easement areas support groundwater recharge, habitat for at-risk plant and animal species, capturing flood waters, and climate adaptation flexibility. These areas contain prime agricultural soils and world-class agriculture that are increasingly encroached upon by residential and commercial development given the proximity to the rapidly urbanizing Bay Area.

“Through this partnership RCDs will work with the grant team and county partners to incorporate current  research and other information in working with farmers on best management practices that will help address issues related with drought, climate change, and wildlife while keeping agriculture thriving in Sonoma County,” said Brittany Jensen,  Executive Director of the Gold Ridge RCD.

The grant will use the best available science to guide conservation outcomes on the ground, working with models and research developed by the Agricultural Preservation & Open Space District, Water Agency and Pepperwood.

“This grant opportunity provides Sonoma County a unique opportunity to advance the emerging practice of precision conservation.  Pepperwood is looking forward to bringing cutting edge research to strategic investments in conservation and working lands.  This partnership enables us to build on our local capacity for productive collaboration to create significant on the ground outcomes.  We are thrilled to be part of this innovative resilience initiative,” said Lisa Micheli, Director of Pepperwood.

 

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About News Worth Noting:  News Worth Noting is a collection of press releases, media statements, and other materials produced by federal, state, and local government agencies, water agencies, and academic institutions, as well as non-profit and advocacy organizations.  News Worth Noting also includes relevant legislator statements and environmental policy and legal analyses that are publicly released by law firms.  If your agency or organization has an item you would like included here, please email it to Maven.

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