WEBCAST: Central Valley habitat being saved one rabbit at a time

WEST OF MODESTO
May 3, 2007 12:01am
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•  River Partners restoring habitat before it’s lost forever

•  California’s largest restoration project underway in Central Valley

River Partners is restoring the San Joaquin River National Wildlife Refuge with grasses, brush, trees and animals.
Mounds have been created to provide animals refuge from periodic floods.
Thomas Griggs
David Neubert

A nonprofit with offices in Chico and Modesto is working to protect and restore some of the last river habitat in the Central Valley before the region’s explosive growth wipes it out.

River Partners specializes in river land – or riparian – habitat restoration. Since 2002, River Partners has worked in the San Joaquin region on both private and public lands.

Its largest project to date is restoring over 1,400 acres for the San Joaquin River National Wildlife Refuge west of Modesto.

That work continues with grasses, bushes and trees being planted on the former dairy farms along with introduction of animals once common to the area such as brush rabbits.

The organization is working against a swelling tide of population in the Central Valley, seen by the state as one of the fastest growing of all regions.

“When you have 37 million [Californians] and growing, that’s a lot less agricultural land. Unfortunately, in my opinion, we’re putting homes and houses out on these wonderful agricultural soils,” says Thomas Griggs, senior restoration ecologist and one of the founders of River Partners. “With … millions of people living in the Central Valley, they’re going to need open space. And part of that is going to be these major river corridors.”

(Mr. Griggs expands on these and other thoughts in a CVBT Audio Interview. Please click on the “Griggs” link below to listen or to download to your iPod or PC.)

Former agribusiness consultant David Neubert, now River Partners’ San Joaquin Regional Director, is concentrating not only on the existing projects but looking for ways to expand the organization’s efforts.

“My focus is to out to look for new projects, primarily along these major river systems,” Mr. Neubert says. “These sort of projects add value to the community from both an economic sense and a quality of life standpoint.”

(Mr. Neubert expands on these and other thoughts in a CVBT Audio Interview. Please click on the “Neubert” link below to listen or to download to your iPod or PC.)

River Partners’ projects span the six major rivers in the Central Valley: the San Joaquin, Sacramento, Feather, Tuolumne, Merced and Stanislaus. To date, it has installed over 750,000 native plants and trees and initiated restoration on 6,000 acres of flood-prone land.

Drilldown


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