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Dos Rios Ranch Acquisition

(Above) View of the farming operations (wheat in the foreground) and riparian area in the background. Photo by Dawn Davis Photography.

On Monday, May 21, 2012, River Partners, along with the Tuolumne River Trust, and more than 212 people, ranging from funders, supporters, and elected official, celebrated the acquisition of Dos Rios Ranch, a 1,603 acre conservation project located where the Tuolumne River joins the San Joaquin.

James Gore, Assistant Chief USDA-NRCS, Kicks off Celebration

The ceremony included nine speakers from the region. Yet, the surprise honor came when James Gore, the assistant Chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service—the top project funder—accepted the invitation to be the keynote speaker.

"It is just amazing and striking to me what you’ve been able to achieve with so many people, with so many entities, with so many interests," shared Gore at the event.

"The Dos Rios acquisition project is one of the largest and most significant restoration projects in this region, and it provides a true model of what we can do. Today we celebrate this project. But we really celebrate the unique partnerships of public and private organizations and families, to come together to protect and restore this golden piece of land."

Hailed as a victory for the San Joaquin valley community and river land conservation in California, the size and scope of the Dos Rios acquisition "effort" could set a new precedent in the West. At least, this is what we at River Partners believe.

It took 10 years to bring this land purchase from concept to closing, marshaling the cooperative efforts of two local nonprofit organization and seven major funders: U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, the US Bureau of Reclamation, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the California Department of Water Resources, the California Natural Resources Agency, the California Wildlife Conservation Board, and the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.

As noted in a Modesto Bee editorial, there is no denying the power of numbers behind this project. They are impressive indicators of a collaborative effort behind an historic conservation achievement: 25 plus letters of support, 10 years in the making, $21.8 million in funding, seven federal, state, and local funders, six milesChairof river frontage where the Tuolumne and San Joaquin meet.

The Dos Rios Ranch is also a project where agriculture, conservation, and flood management meet. As River Partners plans out the restoration in phases, it will continue to lease the working ranch land to local growers. As it implements the restoration of key areas, it will involve students and community members in planting events, involving the community creating recreational spaces and wildlife habitat. As it considers the historic flood flows of both rivers, it will manage the land in a way so it can hold flood waters and reduce peak flows, providing public safety benefits for the cities of Stockton and Lathrop.

The above article originally appeared in the December 2012 issue of the River Partners Journal.