Recovery Act Funding to Help Expand Cosumnes River Preserve

Mar 15, 2010, 13:55 ET from USDA - Natural Resources Conservation Service

Project Will Reduce Flooding and Provide More Recreation Opportunities

SACRAMENTO, Calif., March 15 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and The Nature Conservancy of California announced they have signed the conservation easement for a $2.2 million project in the Cosumnes River Watershed, funded through the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA). Restoration planning efforts will begin soon on the 600+-acre project.

One year after the passage of ARRA, the Recovery Act is providing over $23 million for flood control and water quality work through NRCS in California, as part of public and private partnerships and contracts. President Obama signed The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 into law Feb. 17, 2009, to help jumpstart the nation's economy.

"This project is one of many in California designed to benefit the environment and boost local economic investment as part of ARRA," said Ed Burton, State Conservationist for NRCS in California. "This project will have a positive impact on the local community for years to come."

The federal funding will reconnect a section of the Cosumnes River with its historic floodplain, improving wildlife habitat in one of the biologically richest regions in California's Central Valley, while providing protection for agricultural and urban lands continually threatened by flooding. In addition, the project will offer local job opportunities in order to complete the restoration work.

The project places 617 acres and 1.5 miles of river frontage into permanent floodplain easement. Floodplain easements allow an increase in the area available to accept floodwaters at high flows, encouraging rivers to occupy their historic floodplain, helping to reduce floodwater velocities, improve water quality and increase wildlife habitat.

NRCS will complete the project in partnership with The Nature Conservancy, California Department of Fish & Game and California Wildlife Conservation Board. Once restoration is complete, the project will connect to and result in additional habitat for the Cosumnes River Preserve, now encompassing more than 46,000 acres in Sacramento County. The project will offer the public more opportunities for recreation, such as fishing, hiking, bird-watching and wildlife viewing.

"The property is one of the most exciting restoration projects at the Cosumnes Preserve because it will nearly quadruple the extent of riparian forest in this stretch of the Cosumnes," said Mike Conner, Cosumnes River Preserve Project Director for The Nature Conservancy. "It will also serve as a test-case for advancing restoration science throughout the region."

The project includes studying whether cluster planting techniques (planting vegetation in denser groups instead of the traditional row planting) promotes greater plant diversity. The partners also will study carbon uptake and groundwater recharge results.

As part of its conservation work with private landowners, NRCS purchases permanent easements from willing landowners to enhance floodplain values, such as fish and wildlife habitat, water quality, flood water retention, ground water recharge and open space. The funding for this project will include both technical and financial assistance, offering the local community job opportunities in survey work, real estate, engineering, construction, and sale and installation of native trees and plants.

This project is one of five floodplain easement projects funded by ARRA through NRCS in California. These projects improve water quality, combat erosion, and restore important native riparian and floodplain habitats.

SOURCE USDA - Natural Resources Conservation Service