Our Mission and Vision
River Partners mission is to bring life back to rivers by creating wildlife habitat for the benefit of people and the environment. We envision interconnected, thriving floodplains that sustain abundant wildlife, support productive farmland, preserve freshwater resources, enhance surrounding communities, and serve as the first line of ecological defense in a changing climate.
Two and a half decades ago, a pair of conservation-minded California farmers had a path-breaking realization: farmers and ecologists share a common interest in the health and sustainability of natural resources like water, soil and biodiversity. So, they should be working together to protect and regenerate nature.
Long story short, River Partners was born.
Today, we’re known for repairing native ecosystems in some of the state’s most imperiled river corridors at a pace and scale that matters.
River Partners innovated the use of agricultural techniques combined with ecological science to re-introduce critical habitat in California on a scale not undertaken by any other organization. Our practices establish self-sustaining forests from seeds in just three years.
Only 5% of California’s river habitat remains.
Help us bring back the rest. We’re doubling our pace and scale of riverway restoration during this critical decade.
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Since 1998, River Partners has channeled $160 million toward restoration of nearly 20,000 acres of river corridors throughout California. Every acre we restore yields many times its cost in broad ecological value:
- River forests lower flood risk to downstream communities by reducing erosion and allowing floodwaters to slow down and spread out.
- Floodwaters sink into the aquifer and contribute to groundwater recharge.
- Young, growing forests have higher rates of carbon sequestration than mature woodlands, reducing the impact of global warming.
- Riparian forests act as natural pollution filters to improve water quality.
- Reduced agricultural water use conserves freshwater.
- Healthy river ecosystems provide habitat for birds, animals, pollinators and enhance fisheries.
- Open space on public land creates recreational and educational benefits for surrounding communities.
- The majority of our funding is directed to local communities in under-resourced areas, strengthening local economies.
Our farming co-founders built River Partners upon values of ingenuity, perseverance, neighborly cooperation, and a strong dose of optimism. Their vision has shaped the trailblazing, multi-tiered approach we bring to our work:
Our all-hands-on-deck approach brings farmers, federal and state agencies, regulatory boards, foundations, ecologists, and local organizations together to take big action for our fivers. Long before we begin work on a restoration site, we work extensively with landownders, public agencies, nonprofit organizations, and local municipalities to outline shared goals. Then the hardest work begins. Regulatory hurdles. Red tape. Delays. Proposals and politics. Bringing life back to rivers requires patience and persistence. Often, moving complex projects forward means reaching out to new partners that may not initially seem like conservationists. River Partners has a track record of bringing new allies to the table with our pragmatic vision for improving ecosystems and communities.
As farmers we are keenly attuned to natural ecology, the cycles of the seasons and the value of precious water resources. We restore lands that are no longer economically viable, often due to flood problems, and we return them to use for wildlife, people and the environment. Our field staff are experienced in cultivating riparian plants and trained in equipment operation, irrigation, planting, weed control and monitoring. We use large-scale irrigation systems, commercial nursery production, tractors, spray rigs, belly scrapers and discs to mend the broken ecology of our floodplains and bring life back to our rivers with unmatched efficiency.
Our in-house team of biologists and ecologists along with expert partners oversee our restoration designs and their performance in the field. Restoration managers throughout California look to River Partners for new solutions that emerge from our projects. We frequently partner with renowned researchers to use our project sites as living laboratories. We are currently studying the effect of flood flows on vegetation successional patterns, the impact of climate change on wildlife migrations, and the groundwater regeneration capacity of restored floodplains. We actively share what we’ve learned to help policy leaders and land managers expand their toolkits, advocate for riparian restoration, and strengthen the field of applied restoration science.
Our sustained leadership on the ground has resulted in $160 million directed to restoration of over 20,000 acres of floodplain ecosystems. We leverage every contribution with an exponential amount of public investment in large-scale ecosystem recovery. Every gifted $1 catalyzes $10 in local, state and federal grants for the on-the-ground implementation of thousands of acres of restoration across California. Learn more about our 1:10 impact model. We also use our contractor’s license to bid on restoration activities consistent with our mission, and manage some agricultural leases for the same purpose, turning our earnings into more on-the-ground restoration that gives new life to river landscapes.