Gray secures funding for river restoration and conservation

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Assemblyman Adam Gray, D-Merced, has secured a $40 million budget allocation for river restoration projects in his district and statewide, his office announced Wednesday.

The award will bolster the efforts of River Partners, a conservation group that played a key role in creating Dos Rios Ranch Preserve, the first state park located entirely within Stanislaus County’s borders.

The Merced, Tuolumne, Stanislaus and San Joaquin Rivers all flow through Gray’s 21st District – the Tuolumne River is about 10 miles north of Turlock, while the Merced River is about 15 miles south – and it is the ne of the reasons why water policy has been a central issue for Gray.

“These rivers are not only the lifeblood of my district, providing the foundation for every farm, every job, and every bite of food we eat, they are also vibrant, living wildlife habitats that need to be protected and enhanced” , said Gray. in a press release. “River Partners has been a leader in helping us preserve our rivers. Now we can focus on improving them, both for wildlife and people. »

Gray, who is running against Republican Hughson John Duarte to represent the 13th congressional district, said he was especially proud of the Dos Rios Ranch Preserve, which has been designated as California’s next state park. With the help of local farmers, farmhands and volunteers, River Partners has acquired approximately 2,100 acres near Grayson and turned it into an oasis for fish, waterfowl and native plants.

Atmospheric rivers – think of them as rivers in the sky that carry water vapor, and when these rivers make landfall they often release the vapor as rain or snow – will become much larger and more frequent in years to come, threatening virtually every community in the valley with flooding, according to models created by scientists at the University of California.

In restored floodplains like Dos Rios, these rapid floodwaters have a place to spread and settle, reducing pressure on levees and, in turn, protecting communities downstream.

As this water penetrates the ground, it replenishes aquifers that provide drinking water and irrigation to dozens of communities in the valley. Already, forests of valley oak and poplar grow in the restored floodplains, trapping greenhouse gases as they grow.

Julie Rentner, president of River Partners, envisions similar refuges and parks along many rivers in the San Joaquin Valley.

“The science couldn’t be any clearer,” Rentner said in the press release. “The San Joaquin Valley is ground zero for both more intense and more frequent climatic floods and droughts on the horizon. Expanding and restoring the valley’s floodplains provides significant benefits on both fronts.

The legislation is reserved for the San Joaquin and Tulare Basins and directs River Partners to use it for research, planning and restoration projects.

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