Monday February 6, 2023

Times of San Diego

When devastating floods swept California last month, the community of Grayson — a town of 1,300 people tucked between almond orchards and dairy farms where the San Joaquin and Tuolumne rivers converge — survived without major damage.

In the minds of some townspeople and experts, that was thanks partly to the 2,100 acres of former farmland just across the San Joaquin that have been largely restored to a natural floodplain.

Advocates for floodplain restoration say it can help solve California’s dual dangers of flooding and drought, replenishing groundwater for future drought relief while protecting towns from the catastrophic flooding that scientists predict will come with climate change. Restoration also improves wildlife habitat.

“It performed exactly as planned,” said Julie Rentner, president of the non-profit organization River Partners, which bought the land off private owners and has revived much of the natural landscape, enabling floodwaters that had once been confined by levees to meander across the plain, recharging the aquifer below.

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