Central Valley Project Funds Recovery

By Trout, Basia | Endangered Species Update, January-June 2009 | Go to article overview

Central Valley Project Funds Recovery


Trout, Basia, Endangered Species Update


Over many decades, wildlife and its habitats have declined significantly in the Central Valley of California. To help mitigate this loss, the Bureau of Reclamation and the Fish and Wildlife Service co-manage two programs that contribute to the recovery of threatened and endangered species: the Central Valley Project Conservation Program (CVPCP) and the Central Valley Project Improvement Act (CVPIA) Habitat Restoration Program (HRP).

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With about $3.5 million available for funding each year, these programs have provided more than $30 million to various organizations and agencies to complete over 130 projects since 1996. Established under separate regulatory and legislative authorities, the CVPCP and HRP share the same objective: to benefit federally listed species affected by the Central Valley Project (CVP) in California.

The CVP is one of the nation's major water developments. It protects California's Central Valley from water shortages, improves Sacramento River navigation, produces electric power, protects against floods, provides opportunities for recreation and water quality enhancement, and delivers water to farms, homes, industries, and the environment. At the same time, it has had inevitable impacts on the valley's wildlife.

Each year, the CVPCP and HRP receive and evaluate conservation project proposals under a single integrated process. The programs are guided by a technical team composed of biologists and managers from Reclamation, the Service, and the California Department of Fish and Game. Potential projects are ranked based on established priorities related to species affected, critical habitats, and geographic areas. Proposals considered for funding under both programs are grouped into four categories: habitat protection, habitat restoration, research, and other projects described below.

The programs have limited funding and therefore rely heavily on contributions by project partners. In fact, project applicants are highly encouraged to seek complementary sources of funding.

Twelve to 15 projects are funded annually. Approximately 50 percent of the funds go toward the protection of habitats through fee title acquisition or conservation easements. For example, in 2004 the programs contributed funding to purchase a conservation easement on the 3,185-acre (1,290-hectare) Forster Ranch in San Joaquin County. Partners included the Bureau of Land Management and The Nature Conservancy. This property supports important vernal pool and grassland habitats, and such endangered species as the vernal pool tadpole shrimp (Lepidurus packardi). The project was considered urgent, as urban and vineyard development surrounded the property.

About 20 percent of program funds go toward habitat restoration. …

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