Conservation News

New California Law Reflects Trout Unlimited Priorities, Input

On Sunday, October 15, Gov. Edmund G. Brown, Jr. signed into law a measure that has been one of TU's highest legislative priorities in California over the past two years: SB 5, The California Drought, Water, Parks, Climate, Coastal Protection and Outdoor Access for All Act of 2018.

The governor's signing of SB 5 means the measure will appear as a ballot initiative in June 2018. The bill provides critical new funding to protect the state's natural resources and wildlife, including coastal redwoods, Sierra forests, and rivers, lakes, and streams up and down the state.
Specifically, the measure would authorize the state to issue $4 billion in bonds to pay for projects and grant programs that establish and improve parks and open space, enhance groundwater and floodplain management, and advance fisheries restoration efforts, among other purposes.
In particular, TU worked hard in Sacramento to ensure that funding be dedicated to actions that benefit salmon, steelhead, and native trout, including multiple benefit floodplain projects that expand and improve salmon and steelhead habitat. TU played a lead role in developing the Conservation Strategy for California's new Central Valley Flood Plan. SB 5 funds will help implement this landmark plan.
SB 5 funding would also pay for projects prioritized by conservation partnerships such as the new Central Valley Salmon Habitat Partnership, of which TU is a founding member, streamflow restoration and fish passage improvements in key salmon and steelhead watersheds, salmon and steelhead recovery in the Klamath/Trinity river system, and southern steelhead recovery actions, including removal of the antiquated Matilija Dam on the Ventura River.
The bond's revenues would also be used to to protect water quality, supply, and native trout habitat by restoring higher elevation meadows, make investments in actions that help make watersheds and vital water sources more resilient to the impacts of the warming climate, and to fund conservation grant programs under the state's Wildlife Conservation Board, Department of Fish and Wildlife, and conservancies.
To help get SB 5 passed, TU worked to fortify support for the measure among some of our key conservation partners, in particular those involved in the cooperative effort to restore the once-prolific runs of salmon and steelhead in the Sacramento and San Joaquin River systems. This effort was ultimately successful, in large part due to the collaborative process that produced the state's new flood control strategy (TU's California Science Director, Rene Henery, was a central figure on the advisory committee that recommended the multi-benefit approach for flood control projects).
SB 5 is the first park bond passed by California's Legislature in fifteen years, and has more funding for conservation and natural resources than any previous legislative bond measure. A more detailed breakdown of funding allocations in SB 5 is available on TU's website.
Good conservation outcomes for cold water fish species generally don't happen by accident; they come about as a result of years of advocacy, cooperation, and funding. California's new parks and water bond reflects all three of these factors-as well as the dedicated work of TU's science, policy, and water program staff in the Golden State.

Integrated Watershed Restoration Program

The purpose of IWRP is to facilitate and coordinate projects to improve fish and wildlife habitat and water quality using a voluntary, non-regulatory approach. One of our primary objectives is to provide technical and financial assistance to local project leads to design and implement high priority projects selected by the IWRP agency Technical Advisory Committee (TAC).
In 2008, the State Coastal Conservancy awarded a funding to the RCD of Santa Cruz County to work with the RCDs in San Mateo and Monterey Counties to enable us to establish our own IWRP programs in our respective counties as well as continue some of the IWRP work in Santa Cruz County. For us that has entailed the following steps:

* Forming a Monterey County IWRP TAC consisting of resource agency personnel who have jurisdiction over or stewardship responsibilities for Monterey County natural resources; * Surveying Monterey County organizations and agencies to compile a list of priority restoration projects needing design and permitting support; * Reviewing that list with the TAC in order to select priority projects for IWRP Design and Permit funding based on project readiness and consistency with TAC member agencies’ priorities; and *Securing Coastal Conservancy IWRP funding for selected projects and, once funded, developing the designs and permit packages for them.

Using this approach since initiating IWRP in Monterey County in 2009 we have developed design and permit packages for four restoration projects (SRC, LPC, Riverside, NMCHS); conducted rural road erosion/drainage management assessments to reduce sedimentation in local waterways along miles of roadway on the Big Sur coast, Carmel River, and Little Sur River; and have designs in process for projects on the Arroyo Seco River, Big Sur River, and Santa Rita Creek. With project designs and permits in place, the project proponents are better able to secure implementation funds. Of the road assessments and four designs completed so far, three projects have been awarded funding (and one of those built), and over many miles of roadway have been improved.
As part of this program, the RCD also partnered with the RCD of Santa Cruz County to update their Rural Road Maintenance Guide to create the Central Coast Private Road Maintenance Guide [link to pdf] for rural landowners wanting to maintain their private roads in a manner that reduces erosion risk, long-term maintenance costs, and impacts to nearby streams and wildlife. This is available for download in our Resource Library.

IWRP Design and Permitting Projects to date:
Santa Rita Creek Urban Greening (Bolsa Knolls). Project Proponent: Central Coast Wetlands Group and Ferrasci Little League Park. Status: installed in 2015.
Lower Post Creek Fish Passage Improvement (Pfieffer-Big Sur State Park). Project Proponent: CA State Parks. Status: designs completed, implementation funding pending.
Riverside Campground Fish Passage Improvement (Big Sur River). Project Proponent: Trout Unlimited and landowner. Status: designs under revision.
North Monterey County Amphibian Habitat Restoration Project (Castroville). Project Proponents: Central Coast Wetlands Group and North Monterey County Unified School District.
Status: designs and permits completed, implementation funding anticipated March 2017 for fall 2017 installation.
Blanco Drain Water Quality Improvement Projects. Project Proponents: RCDMC and landowners. Status: 65% Complete designs under review.
Arroyo Seco Fish Passage Improvement Project. Project Proponents: Landowners and Trout Unlimited. Status: Conceptual designs under review.
Potrero Creek Fish Passage and Habitat Improvement Project. Project Proponents: Trout Unlimited and landowners. Status: Designs under development with Carmel River Settlement Funds.
Juan Higuera Creek Fish Passage Improvement Project. Proponents: Landowner and Trout Unlimited. Status: 65% Complete design under development.
Santa Rita Creek Stream Management Plan. Project Proponent: RCDMC. Status: Draft report under review.

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