As climate extremes continue to challenge water management, the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) is working with partners across the state to implement floodplain restoration projects that provide flood protection to communities and benefits for endangered species and natural habitat. With DWR’s assistance, River Partners and American Rivers will begin work on the restoration of over 1,000 acres of historical floodplain on the Sacramento River that will provide flood protection, enhance and expand critical habitat for fish and wildlife, and increase climate resilience in rural communities in Yolo and Sacramento counties. The community, conservation leaders, state, federal and local officials, on October 18, joined DWR and representatives from River Partners and American Rivers to celebrate the project’s benefits and quick planning and execution.
In addition to modifying the area to allow floodwaters to spread out, relieving pressure on downstream levees during high water events on the Sacramento River, River Partners will restore riparian habitat that will benefit native species including chinook salmon, monarch butterflies, valley elderberry longhorn beetles, giant garter snakes, and migratory bird species.
The 1,000 acres on the Sacramento River, known as Turning Point Preserve, was acquired through $17.5 million in Proposition 1 funding in early 2023. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s Central Valley Project Improvement Act Fisheries and Facilities Improvement Program awarded $10 million to support the initial phase of restoration. Work will begin immediately to restore 200 acres of floodplain and will include retiring some agricultural operations, conducting significant earth work, and introducing native plant species to improve habitat for fish and waterfowl. The project will eventually restore nearly 1,000 acres of floodplain and expand floodways, increasing flood protection for downstream communities while simultaneously providing ecosystem benefits through habitat restoration.
“DWR’s investments in projects like Turning Point Preserve will help ensure endangered species have more habitat to thrive, local groundwater basins have stronger ability to recover after periods of extreme drought, and vulnerable communities have increased flood protection,” said DWR Director Karla Nemeth. “That’s also why the Newsom administration, in partnership with the Legislature, has invested more than $430 million in the most recent budget to support flood response and projects to protect communities from future flooding.”
Work will begin to immediately restore 200 acres of floodplain and River Partners will continue agriculture operations on the remaining 800 acres for up to 10 years before restoring the remaining portion of the project.
“There’s incredible potential to make Turning Point Preserve a statewide model of floodplain restoration that pays big dividends for thriving ecosystems and communities in the face of climate change,” said Julie Rentner, President of River Partners. “DWR and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation are leading the way in demonstrating the power of revived riverways in delivering a brighter future for everything that makes California so special.”
Funding for this project was provided through the Central Valley Tributary Program, which awards Proposition 1 funds to projects that provide multi-benefit flood risk reduction to address flood risk for urban and small communities in the Central Valley. To date, the Central Valley Tributary Program has awarded $32.9 million for local assistance and direct investment in flood plain restoration and flood protection projects.For more information on how DWR is preparing for another possible wet year, including investments in flood preparedness, click here. For more information on Turning Point Preserve, visit River Partners website here.