Evading Dam-Nation to Build a Working Floodplain on the Cosumnes River

Due to this extensive reclamation and the damming of most of the Central Valley’s rivers, the Valley lost nearly all of its native habitat with a few notable exceptions, such as the Cosumnes River watershed.
Between 1900 and 1974, there were five distinct water projects totaling more than 30 dams proposed for the Cosumnes River.
These two land uses happened to be compatible with waterfowl and some native habitat types like vernal pools and riparian forests.
Unlike the riparian forest stands in the lower watershed, waterfowl have resided in the region, as well as the rest of the Central Valley, for more than a million years.
Due to the Cosumnes’ annual flooding, farmers opted to grow crops that could be planted and harvested before the unregulated deluge could destroy their agricultural investment.
TNC, along with its myriad partners, quickly realized that other rare habitat types and bird species resided in the lower watershed and capitalized on their presence to create a cutting-edge conservation model for the Delta.
The Cosumnes River Preserve today protects the Cosumnes’ free flow, floodplain, and rare native habitats.
As a result of the Cosumnes River Preserve’s innovative public-private partnership management model and restoration techniques, state policymakers today look to the Cosumnes River as a restoration model for other rivers in the Central Valley and for the Delta.
She completed her senior honors thesis, “Evading Dam-Nation: Land Use History of the Lower Cosumnes River Watershed, ca.
“Managing the Sacramento Valley Vernal Pool Landscape to Sustain the Native Flora.” In Ecology, Conservation, and Management of Vernal Pool Ecosystems – Proceedings from a 1996 Conference, edited by C.W.

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