River Partners' mission is to create wildlife habitat for the benefit of people and the environment.

Home » Resources » Reports & Articles

Reports & Articles

This page contains links to reports and articles written by River Partners that are available online:


California Riparian Habitat Restoration Handbook

The intended audience for this California Riparian Restoration Handbook is anyone responsible for writing a proposal for a riparian restoration project, anyone beginning to plan and implement the project, or those responsible for compliance and mitigation monitoring of such a project. This handbook explains the elements of a site-specific riparian restoration project that must be addressed in order for a project to be successful.


Effects of Long Duration Flooding on Riparian Plant Species in Restoration Plantings at San Joaquin River NWR

Introduction: In 2002, River Partners planted approximately 800 acres of fallow field with native riparian vegetation on the West Unit of the San Joaquin River National Wildlife Refuge (SJRNWR). At the completion of this restoration project in 2005, River Partners had achieved an overall woody species survival of 77%.

Heavy, extended spring rainfall in 2006, combined with melting of a large snowpack in the Sierra Nevada Mountains increased the mean daily flow of the San Joaquin River to above-capacity levels through the spring and summer of 2006. As a result, areas of the SJRNWR were subject to flooding at depths of 1 to nearly 3 meters for 3 to 5 months.

The flood of 2006 offered a unique opportunity to return to the 20 permanent monitoring plots established by River partners in 2004 and describe the effects of this long duration flood on restoration plantings.

River Partners Valley Elderberry Longhorn Beetles Field Notes, May-June 2010

Introduction: On May 18, 2010 at approximately 2:15 P.M. a River Partners biologist observed a male Valley Elderberry Longhorn Beetle (VELB) on a blue elderberry transplant at the Feather River Setback Levee Valley Elderberry Longhorn Beetle Mitigation Area. The beetle was first viewed on a dead stem about 2.5 feet from the ground surface moving toward the distal end of the stem. He was traveling on the top surface of a dead primary branch. The beetle stopped when he reached a location on adjoining tertiary (dead) branch and remained stationary for several minutes. The beetle was gone several minutes later; the biologist did not observe his departure from the stem. 

Restoration Plans

  1. Del Rio Wildland Preserve (East Field) Restoration Plan (9MB)
  2. Vierra Unit San Joaquin River NWR Restoration Plan (15 MB)
  3. Buffington Unit San Joaquin River NWR Restoration Plan
  4. O'Connor Lakes Unit Feather River Wildlife Area Restoration Plan
  5. Bear River Levee Setback Restoration Plan (10 MB)
  6. Otay River Valley Parkway (San Diego County) Pre-Restoration Plan
  7. Panorama Vista Preserve Conceptual Restoration Plan (7 MB)
  8. La Barranca Unit, Phase II Restoration Plan (2.3 MB)


Lessons Learned in Habitat Restoration for the Riparian Brush Rabbit

By Julie Rentner

Fremontia, May 2015

Abstract: The ongoing recovery of riparian brush rabbit habitat along the Lower San Joaquin River is a model of integration of wildlife and plant restoration ecology. A highly functioning public-private partnership has been able to rapidly and successfully re-establish a new population of this endangered species across thousands of acres of new habitat in its historic range. This partnership has explicitly looked at the connections between the factors limiting the recovery of this rabbit and the factors limiting the recovery of its habitat, which consists of riparian shrublands dominated by native blackberry and roses. The restored habitat has proven to be resilient to the disturbances it will face into the future, including fires and floods.

Why Climate Change Makes Riparian Restoration More Important than Ever: Recommendations for Practice and Research

By Nathaniel E. Seavy, Thomas Gardali, Gregory H. Golet, F. Thomas Griggs, Christine A. Howell, Rodd Kelsey, Stacy L. Small, Joshua H. Viers and James F. Weigand

Ecological Restoration, September 2009

Abstract: Over the next century, climate change will dramatically alter natural resource management. Specifically, historical reference conditions may no longer serve as benchmarks for restoration, which may foster a “why bother?” attitude toward ecological restoration. We review the potential role for riparian restoration to prepare ecological systems for the threats posed by climate change. Riparian ecosystems are naturally resilient, provide linear habitat connectivity, link aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, and create thermal refugia for wildlife: all characteristics that can contribute to ecological adaptation to climate change. Because riparian systems and the projected impacts of climate change are highly variable geographically, there is a pressing need to develop a place-based understanding of climate change threats to riparian ecosystems. Restoration practitioners should consider how they can modify practices to enhance the resilience of riparian ecosystems to climate change. Such modifications may include accelerating the restoration of private lands, participating in water management decisions, and putting the emerging field of restoration genetics into practice.

The article is online at http://er.uwpress.org/content/27/3/330.full.pdf+html

Study of the Roughness Characteristics of Native Plant Species in California Floodplain Wetlands

By Z.Q. Richard Chen, M. Levent Kavvas, H. Bandeh, Elcin Tan, John Carlon, Thomas Griggs, and Stefan Lorenzato

June 2009

Wildlife Response to Riparian Restoration on the Sacramento River

By Gregory H. Golet (The Nature Conservancy), Thomas Gardali (PRBO Conservation Science, Christine A. Howell (PRBO Conservation Science), John Hunt (California State University, Chico), Ryan A. Luster (The Nature Conservancy), William Rainey (University of California, Berkeley), Michael D. Roberts (The Nature Conservancy), Joseph Silveira (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service), Helen Swagerty (River Partners), Neal Williams (Bryn Mawr College)

San Francisco Estuary and Watershed Science, June 2008

Studies that assess the success of riparian restoration projects seldom focus on wildlife. More generally, vegetation characteristics are studied, with the assumption that animal populations will recover once adequate habitats are established. On the Sacramento River, millions of dollars have been spent on habitat restoration, yet few studies of wildlife response have been published. Here we present the major findings of a suite of studies that assessed responses of four taxonomic groups (insects, birds, bats, and rodents). Study designs fell primarily into two broad categories: comparisons of restoration sites of different ages, and comparisons of restoration sites with agricultural and remnant riparian sites.

Older restoration sites showed increased abundances of many species of landbirds and bats relative to younger sites, and the same trend was observed for the Valley elderberry longhorn beetle (Desmocerus californicus dimorphus), a federally threatened species. Species richness of landbirds and grounddwelling beetles appeared to increase as restoration sites matured. Young restoration sites provided benefits to species that utilize early successional riparian habitats, and after about 10 years, the sites appeared to provide many of the complex structural habitat elements that are characteristic of remnant forest patches. Eleven-year old sites were occupied by both cavity-nesting birds and special-status crevice-roosting bats. Restored sites also supported a wide diversity of bee species, and had richness similar to remnant sites. Remnant sites had species compositions of beetles and rodents more similar to older sites than to younger sites.

Because study durations were short for all but landbirds, results should be viewed as preliminary. Nonetheless, in aggregate, they provide convincing evidence that restoration along the Sacramento River has been successful in restoring riparian habitats for a broad suite of faunal species. Not only did the restoration projects provide benefits for special-status species, but they also appeared effective in restoring the larger native riparian community. Increases in bird abundance through time were observed both at restoration sites and in remnant habitats, suggesting that restoration efforts may be having positive spillover effects, although observed increases may have been caused by other factors.

Although positive overall, these studies yielded some disconcerting results. The Lazuli Bunting (Passerina amoena) declined at restoration sites and remnant habitats alike, and certain exotic invasive species, such as black rats, appeared to increase as restoration sites matured.

The article is online at http://escholarship.org/uc/item/4z17h9qm.

Considerations for Designing Riparian Restoration for Wildlife in California’s Central Valley

By Dan Efseaff, Stacy Small and Nick Pacini, River Partners

Ecesis Newsletter, Summer 2008

Hunting, Hiking, and Habitat, Oh My!

By Erin McKinney and Tamara Sperber, River Partners

California Waterfowl, February/March 2004

Rebirth of Riparian Forests on the Sacramento River Provides Hope for Wildlife

By Daniel Efseaff and Tom Griggs, River Partners

Outdoor California, May/June 2004



Incorporating Native Grass Planting into Riparian Restoration on the Sacramento River

By D.S. Efseaff, J. G. Silveira, F.T. Griggs, F.L. Thomas, John Carlon

From California Riparian Systems: Processes and Floodplain Management, Ecology, and Restoration. 2001 Riparian Habitat and Floodplains Conference Proceedings, Riparian Habitat Joint Venture, Sacramento, CA

Abstract: In the fall of 1999, Sacramento River Partners planted native grass seeds and plugs in a riparian zone at the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s Ord Bend Unit in Glenn County, California to examine strategies for the successful introduction of native grasses. The Ord Bend Unit is part of the Sacramento River National Wildlife Refuge and is currently being restored to riparian woodland and savanna. Native grass was planted between the tree and shrub species on approximately half of the 100- acre site. Native grasses support a wide variety of wildlife species and provide important ecological benefits, yet native grasses are often not included as part of riparian restoration projects. This project intended to: 1) demonstrate that native grass could be successfully incorporated within a riparian restoration project, 2) use an ensemble of cultural strategies to provide a selective advantage to native grasses (and woody riparian species), and 3) to quantitatively compare the relative success of the native grasses planted at this site. We established replicated test plots of ten different species on the site to provide a comparison between species. The first year’s preliminary results indicate that native grass species have been successfully established at the site, although success varied by species.


La Barranca — A Study in Integrated Restoration Design Utilizing Adaptive Management in the Recovery of the Endangered Riparian Brush Rabbit at SJRNWR Ecological Resilience: Performance of Large Scale Riparian Restoration Projects Great Valley Riparian and Floodplain Meadow Habitat Observations and Future Research