In late 2013, the Nature Conservancy began meeting with local agricultural leaders and Monterey County Water Resources Agency (MCWRA) to discuss a pilot project focusing on a multi-benefit approach to mitigate flooding while protecting species and habitat. The result was a 12-mile pilot project that kicked off in fall 2014 in the Chualar and Gonzales areas of the Central Coast.
That pilot project, alongside an arundo donax and tamarisk removal program spearheaded by Monterey County Resource Conservation District (RCD), was just the beginning. The RCD and MCWRA received multi-year permits from state and federal governments this year to conduct maintenance work throughout the 94-mile river channel corridor, which is almost entirely privately owned. The Grower-Shipper Association (GSA), Salinas River Channel Coalition, Monterey County Farm Bureau, and others have been committed to working with partners in the agricultural community, as well as Monterey County Water Resources, The Monterey County Resource Conservation District and The Nature Conservancy to build river management units throughout the rest of the river over the coming year.
“This project was the result of collaboration, trust-building and thinking outside of what we all knew,” said Abby Taylor-Silva, Vice President of Policy & Communications at GSA. “The result is a new stream maintenance program – after we hadn’t had one for more than eight years – and a shared appreciation for a river management system that meets a variety of needs and requirements, while also bringing flooding mitigation and recharge benefits to local landowners and operators.”