A Reminder of the Restoration Benefits for People
This Journal issue includes three articles that collectively highlight the social dimension of River Partners’ mission to create wildlife habitat for the benefit of people and the environment. Spanning public use of rivers and riparian ecosystems, job creation, and service learning, these articles reinforce the value of our projects to people and communities across California.
Julie Renter’s cover story reminds us all of the important role that restoration plays in reinforcing connections between people, rivers and riparian ecosystems. River Partners’ projects and, more broadly, restoration of rivers and riparian areas in general, provide important opportunities for people to reconnect to natural places. The ecological benefits of habitat restoration projects are numerous, but so are the social benefits – including recreation, job creation, and the satisfaction of personally volunteering to help plant trees and shrubs on a project in your local community.
The second article by our collective staff provides an overview of the state-wide partnerships we have created over the past five years with various Conservation Corps. Our projects have created hundreds of jobs for young men and women in local communities, including on-the-job training that spans all phases of the restoration process. For example, corpsmembers learn to identify and remove invasive species, install water-efficient irrigation, plant native trees and shrubs, and assist with outreach events. River Partners first contracted with the California Conservation Corps in 2011 for work on the San Joaquin National Wildlife Refuge. We have continued to grow our relationship with the CCC, and have also created mutually-beneficial partnerships with several Local Conservation Corps and similar organizations.
Lastly, Heyo Tjarks reports on River Partners’ participation in the award-winning SLEWS program designed to provide high school students hands-on experience with local conservation efforts. River Partners is working with East Stanislaus RCD to implement a SLEWS program at Dos Rios Ranch, providing valuable experience to area students and fostering connections between local schools and the surrounding environment. This project continues our long tradition of including service learning opportunities in our multi-benefit restoration projects. For example, students and community volunteers have helped grow out oaks and other species that are then planted into local projects. In 2008, our one-millionth tree was grown by students from Las Plumas High School and planted at the Bear River Levee Setback restoration area. Our projects continue to be popular destinations for class field trips, and also serve as excellent locations for volunteer events that connect local communities to the environment.
Ultimately, the social benefits of River Partners’ restoration projects are just as important as the improvements made to the physical landscape. This duality is reflected in our broader mission and our day-to-day efforts to implement projects that benefit both people and the environment.