Central Valley Flood Protection Plan (CVFPP) Conservation Strategy
We developed the CVFPP Conservation Strategy to support work on integrated flood system planning and the development of the 2012 Central Valley Flood Protection Plan (CVFPP) and 2017 Update. Taking an integrated approach increases public benefits for every dollar spent.
We provided support on environmental aspects and the integration of environmental stewardship through a comprehensive effort to create a systemwide conservation plan. The Conservation Strategy planning effort informed formulation of multi-benefit project concepts articulated in the Sacramento and San Joaquin Basinwide Feasibility studies. The Conservation Strategy planning effort informed formulation of multi-benefit project concepts articulated in the Sacramento and San Joaquin Basinwide Feasibility Studies. We also coordinated regional advance mitigation planning (RAMP), a comprehensive statewide effort promoting more meaningful, large-scale, and cost-effective conservation by establishing mitigation banks before flood projects are implemented.
Specifically, the Conservation Strategy includes:
- Up-to-date scientific and planning information
- A regional permitting approach
- A comprehensive and science-based approach to vegetation management
- Specific tools, data, and approaches to support development of multi-benefit projects to restore riverine processes
- Improvements to habitats and benefits for fish and wildlife
- Clear ecological targets with measurable objectives
Our Conservation Strategy also supports two of the key actions identified in the California Water Action Plan: increasing flood protection and protecting and restoring important ecosystems. It was developed through a substantive public process, and incorporates suggestions provided by non-governmental organizations (NGOs), private citizens, and other government agencies.
The Conservation Strategy promotes the protection and restoration of natural areas as part of flood protection improvement efforts by implementing multi-benefit projects. Some flood management projects do not in and of themselves provide environmental benefits. For those projects, we are taking a proactive regional approach to mitigate certain unavoidable environmental impacts. We are coordinating these regional planning efforts with other state and federal agencies.
Advance mitigation establishes mitigation areas before flood infrastructure projects are implemented to promote more meaningful large-scale and cost-effective conservation outcomes. By mitigating for future project impacts in advance of those impacts, we expect to:
- Reduce permitting delays
- Diminish disruption to affected plant and animal species during construction
- Reduce costs
Four projects were funded through Proposition 1E funds allocated for advanced mitigation. These projects have enhanced floodplain and riparian habitat and provided mitigation credits for salmonids, giant garter snake (GGS), Swainson's hawk, and riparian habitat. We expect credits to become available for valley elderberry longhorn beetle (VELB) at a later date.
Moving forward, when a flood project cannot be designed as multipurpose or cannot self-mitigate, and is projected to have an impact on one or more of these species, the lead agency may apply to DWR to use some of these accrued mitigation credits to compensate for those impacts. Use of the mitigation credits will be determined on a case-by-case basis, but generally, the credits will be available to DWR or to local levee maintaining agencies with the legal authority to operate and maintain State Plan of Flood Control facilities. By mitigating impacts in advance, sensitive species will enjoy a baseline level of protection, and public agencies will be able to implement flood projects more efficiently while knowing they will not be detrimental to sensitive native species.
Implementation of the Central Valley Flood Protection Plan and Conservation Strategy will involve numerous flood management and conservation actions over a long time frame. Many of these activities will require regulatory approvals to ensure consistency with federal and state environmental laws. Project-by-project compliance with these laws can be inefficient, costly and unpredictable, which can result in unsafe deferred maintenance and small, isolated and ineffective (or unsuccessful) mitigation areas.
DWR will develop "programmatic permits" that will ensure compliance with environmental laws at a regional scale and over longer time periods than traditional project-by-project permitting. This regional approach will make it possible to have a single permit support multiple projects implemented by numerous entities, including California Department of Water Resources (DWR) and Local Maintaining Agencies (LMAs), on a voluntary basis.
Regional permitting may cover activities such as maintenance, structural repairs, reconstruction, improvements to existing levees or new levee construction and multi-benefit conservation actions such as levee setbacks, ecosystem restoration and enhancement, including the removal of fish passage barriers.