Message from the Board Chair: Establishing Wildlife Corridors
Establishing of riparian wildlife corridors is a high priority for River Partners, as these corridors often represent the only remaining, relatively natural connections between remnant habitat areas so important to the movement of wildlife.
A wildlife corridor usually consists of native or restored vegetation that links two or more significant areas of similar wildlife habitat. Such corridors help to reduce or moderate some of the negative effects of habitat fragmentation by allowing wildlife to roam between two or more habitat areas.
Moreover, wildlife corridors that encompass rivers and streams allow terrestrial species safe passage to higher ground – an important feature in active floodplains and an environment with a changing climate.
Wildlife corridors are especially important in riparian forests which provide critical core habitat for a large number of species. Riparian vegetation along river channels are the primary migration routes used by wildlife because these areas provide migrating animals with the food, water and cover required during their journey. When designing its restoration projects, River Partners considers the habitat needs of migrating wildlife, including plant varieties and structural features.
One example of River Partners attention to wildlife migration is our project in San Diego County. Located on Calif. Dept. of Fish and Wildlife’s Rancho Jamul Ecological Preserve and the Hollenbeck Canyon Wildlife Management Area, this 178 acre project includes the restoration of southern coast live oak woodlands as well as coastal sage scrub habitats. The goal is to restore habitat that was lost due to multiple wildfires and create a wildlife corridor connecting CDFW’s existing open space preserves with the Bureau of Land Management’s Otay Mountain Wildlife Area to the south, and the Cleveland National Forest to the east.
Wildlife corridors are further enhanced by the restoration of habitats along major migratory flyways and the elimination of barriers to effective fish migration.
For example, this Journal’s feature article River Partners Acquires 285-acre Grayson Property for Wildlife and People describes our work protecting and restoring more than 5,000 acres of riverside lands along 10 miles of the San Joaquin River, downstream of the community of Grayson and 5 miles up the Tuolumne River towards Modesto:
“Long-time residents report that they’ve seen many more hawks and much larger hawks in the last 5 years than in they have in the last 60 in this region. [T]his is the effect of building a wildlife habitat corridor so large that it can support many self-sustaining prey populations. In this corridor, migrating songbirds have their pick of nesting sites, and wintering geese and ducks don’t overwhelm the wetlands. For anadromous salmon populations, this corridor provides stops along their epic migration to rest, forage, and grow strong before their trek out to sea.”
Riparian wildlife corridors established by River Partners contribute to ecological connectivity throughout the state. Maintaining and enhancing functional ecological connectivity across California’s riparian landscape is no easy task and River Partners is determined to remain part of the effort.
The above article originally appeared in the Fall 2016 issue of the River Partners Journal.