On October 10, 2010, River Partners’ co-founder Bernard “Barney” Flynn passed away in Sacramento due to heart failure. His loss is profoundly immeasurable for his family, friends, and all of River Partners. Also profoundly immeasurable is the legacy Barney left for the citizens of California and the migratory wildlife of the Pacific Flyway. Major restoration initiatives along the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers were made possible thanks to Barney’s innovations, commitment, and vision.
As River Partners’ Vice President for 8 years, Barney Flynn developed the technological base and sustainable business model that gave this organization the capacity to deliver habitat projects of significant acreage. Further, he motivated River Partners to acquire land along the Sacramento River and donate it to State Parks. He firmly believed such land and access to the river belonged to the people of California.
According to Barney, “We took restoration projects to a new level of scale. We were unique in that we owned tractors, we hired farmers and we knew how to regenerate large tracts of fallow land into viable habitat. We resolved the tension between biology and farming by making them work together.”
For Barney, restoration work was about the future of the Central Valley: “California’s population is projected to double by 2039 placing ever-increasing demands on the state’s natural resources. This growth will occur mainly within California’s Central Valley, the most expansive watershed system in the state. This means that future citizens of California will be living in a highly impacted world. Remnant ecosystems, especially those protecting watersheds, will be invaluable.”
We at River Partners will miss Barney’s passion, intellect, and friendship. Yet, we are comforted by the fact that all will benefit from his drive to protect California’s rivers and riparian forests.