River Partners Science Team Expands, Looks to Even Larger Outcomes

By Julie Rentner, Executive Vice President, Science & Development

At River Partners our staff and partners in riparian restoration don’t move mountains, but close. To successfully restore 11,000 acres of riparian habitat over the past two decades, we have had to understand and manage complex river physical processes – flooding, erosion, deposition, channel meander – along with the models that allow us to predict their magnitudes and changes over time. At the same time we had to connect that understanding to the needs of endangered wildlife and the complex and often poorly-understood ecology of riparian vegetation that serves a last resort for many fragile species.

2018 is shaping up to be a very important year for large-scale outcomes, and we have hired three new staff scientists to support our work in the Sacramento Valley, San Joaquin Valley and in San Diego. Our new science staff bring critical capacity to River Partners: expertise in fisheries and avian ecology, permitting, project management, public outreach, and even herpetology!

We have initiated a comprehensive training program of workshops on topics supporting transformative restoration projects. Our first three-day workshop covered restoration planning and permitting. Drawing on our expert partners as well as some new perspectives from agencies, other partner nonprofits, and neighbors, we had a robust discussion about developing conceptual site models. These models entail developing a thorough description of a site’s ecology, justifying proposed restoration actions, and carrying those ideas through the process of planning, budgeting and permitting at all levels.

River Partners has built a solid and engaged community working on these tough issues, and a body of work that shows that despite enormous complexity, we can improve habitat conditions and bring life back to degraded riparian areas across the State.

The above article originally appeared in the Spring 2018 issue of the River Partners Journal.