San Joaquin Valley

Hidden Valley Ranch—Stanislaus County

Project Highlights

  • Size: 460 acres
  • Annual VWBs: 1,955 AF/year
  • Total restoration cost: $13,771,250

On the San Joaquin River, immediately upstream of its confluence with the Tuolumne River and adjacent to thousands of acres of national wildlife refuge lands and River Partners’ Dos Rios Ranch sits the 460-acre Hidden Valley Ranch.

Goals of the restoration include reestablishing native riparian vegetation on 380 acres formerly under commercial-crop cultivation, removing a private levee to reconnect 40 acres of floodplain to the San Joaquin River, replacing two dilapidated water control structures and a culvert with two state-of-the-art water control structures to reconnect habitat on 4.4 miles of an existing slough, regrading approximately 40 acres of farm fields to create a managed seasonal wetland, monitoring the site to ensure effectiveness, and pursuing the permits necessary to breach a federal levee to reconnect 920 acres of floodplain on Hidden Valley and the neighboring Dos Rios Ranch.

Water Conservation, Replenishment

Retiring 380 acres of irrigated agriculture on the site and replacing it with native vegetation will reduce consumptive use of water by approximately 40 percent and fully eliminate consumptive use of surface water after three years (the time needed to fully establish native restoration). Based on a consumptive use study performed by the Irrigation Training and Research Center at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, restoration at Hidden Valley Ranch will reduce consumptive use by 1,955 acre-feet annually.

Co-Benefits

  • Wildlife habitat for a variety of imperiled aquatic, terrestrial, and avian species
  • Increased stream flows and floodplain connectivity to support endangered Chinook salmon, steelhead, and other struggling fish
  • Regenerative agriculture through elimination of ag chemicals, among other benefits
  • Increased flood safety for underserved valley communities along the San Joaquin River
  • Recreational use for public, including birding, hiking, and water access
  • Supporting Tribal cultures through access to native vegetation for creating baskets, tools, traditional foods, and other culturally significant items

Crows Landing—Stanislaus County

Project Highlights

  • Size: 235 acres (purple outline)
  • Annual VWBs: 841 AF/year
  • Total restoration cost: $8,705,500

River Partners is implementing habitat restoration at Crows Landing River Ranch located along the San Joaquin River southwest of Modesto in Stanislaus County. With a mix of government and private funding, restoration at the site will include grading to improve floodplain inundation and associated groundwater replenishment, planting approximately 230 native plants per acre, seeding a robust native understory, and maintaining and monitoring the habitat for a period of three years until fully established. Once restoration is complete, River Partners will retire irrigation use.

The proposed project is located 4.5 miles northeast of the town of Crows Landing, and 9 miles southeast of Patterson, California, a rapidly growing community. Regionally, approximately 12% of the population lives below the poverty level and seasonal unemployment can exceed 20% due to the fluctuating nature of agricultural jobs.

This project supports the all-important community and economic aspects of a local regenerative-agriculture system by not only increasing local water supplies that are vital for a thriving agricultural sector but also by creating good-paying jobs in underserved communities that boost local economies. In River Partners’ 25-year history, we’ve channeled more than $160 million to local communities—from which we hire our restoration workforces and administrators and procure products and services that support our habitat-farming activities.

Crows Landing River Ranch is in an ecologically important location along the primary floodplain of the San Joaquin River and is part of the 31,800 square-mile San Joaquin Watershed. Most of the water occurring in this watershed falls as winter snow in the upper reaches of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, which flows to the valley floor in late spring and early summer. The location and proximity to existing riparian habitat magnify this project’s water-replenishment and ecological benefits.

Water Conservation, Replenishment

In converting irrigated farmland to native vegetation, the project will help conserve 433-576 acre-feet of water annually and reconnect 130 acres floodplain critical for increasing floodplain inundation and associated groundwater recharge in the area.

These native plants we’ll install will use less water than the crops currently being grown on the property, plus irrigation of the property will cease at the conclusion of the establishment period which will lead to decreased evapotranspiration. 

Co-Benefits

  • Wildlife habitat for a variety of imperiled aquatic, terrestrial, and avian species
  • Increased stream flows and floodplain connectivity to support endangered Chinook salmon, steelhead, and other struggling fish
  • Increased flood safety for underserved valley communities along the San Joaquin River

Crows Landing—Stanislaus County