Conservation and wildlife advocates throw support behind CA flood board’s plan

Market Watch
July 2, 2012

California conservation and wildlife organizations announced today that the Central Valley Flood Protection Board has adopted the Central Valley Flood Protection Plan. The plan establishes a framework for flood management throughout the Central Valley for the coming century. It focuses on improving flood protection for urban areas and prioritizes expansion of flood bypasses along the lower Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers to improve flood protection for Sacramento and Stockton. The Board has modernized its approach by requiring future State investments in flood management be designed to achieve multiple benefits such as recreation, habitat restoration, agricultural preservation, and clean water.

The Flood Protection Board is an appointed body that oversees flood management in the Central Valley and is staffed by the Department of Water Resources. DWR was charged with developing the plan through 2007 legislation that called for a comprehensive approach to flood management in the Central Valley. Several leading conservation organizations worked together and with other stakeholders to advocate for a practical approach to flood management that reduces uncertainty while improving public safety, water quality and supply, and habitat for fish and wildlife. American Rivers, California Trout, Defenders of Wildlife, Environmental Defense Fund, Friends of the River, National Wildlife Federation, Natural Resources Defense Council, The Nature Conservancy, River Partners and Trout Unlimited jointly issue the following statement regarding the final Central Valley Flood Protection Plan:

“The Central Valley Flood Protection Board has done good job of creating a blueprint for modernizing flood management in the Central Valley that will provide long-term economic and environmental benefits for the region. The plan recognizes that setting back levees and expanding floodways is the best way to protect public safety. Giving rivers more room will also create opportunities for trails and parks along the Central Valley rivers and provide critical habitat for waterfowl, salmon, and other animals.

“This Board is composed of top-notch, experienced professionals who have exhibited leadership in the process of refining the Central Valley Flood Protection Plan. The framework the Board has laid out relies on the best available science to establish a multi-benefit approach to flood management. This approach recognizes that many of the stakeholders in the Valley have complementary interests that can be met through coordination and cooperation.

“Specifically, several studies now point to the need for floodplain habitat restoration in order to recover imperiled Pacific Salmon. Juvenile salmon that rear on floodplains grow bigger faster than salmon that rear in river channels. These larger fish are more likely to survive to adulthood and return to spawn in our rivers. By prioritizing expansion of floodways, the plan will not only improve flood protection for urban areas like Sacramento, but also help restore native habitat for salmon and other sensitive species.

“Maintaining land in agriculture and preventing urbanization of floodplains is one of the best ways to prevent loss of life and property from floods. Agriculture can also provide important habitat for waterfowl, shorebirds and other wildlife.

“The plan does not prevent urbanization of agricultural lands on vulnerable floodplains, but it does include provisions that will help preserve agricultural lands as ‘working landscapes’ that not only provide food and fiber, but also provide critical habitat for wildlife.

“This plan will also make it possible to coordinate land use planning throughout the Valley in a manner that protects local decision-making without undue risk to public safety. The Flood Board’s momentous move today to adopt the Central Valley Flood Protection Plan is a significant step toward ensuring California’s prosperity for the coming decades.

“Now that the plan has been adopted, we hope that the Board will continue to actively guide planning efforts so that its ambitious vision can become a reality in the Central Valley. Developing this plan is the first step in what is sure to be a long – and extremely valuable – process in creating a sustainable future for the region.”

To read the final adopted plan, go to .

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