Integrated Levee Vegetation Management – Flood Maintenance and Habitat

Project Lead: River Partners

Potential Project Partners:
Funding partners - WCB, DWR, USBR, NRCS; landowners; RDs; environmental NGOs; technical experts - as needed

Short Project Description:
This project includes re-establishing appropriate vegetation on levee slopes to promote terrestrial wildlife survival during floods – either native sod on active levees or native brush vegetation on inactive levees (RDs 2099, 2100, 2102, and 2092 in the future).

Long Project Description:
Since 2002, wildlife researchers at the Endangered Species Recovery Program at CSU Stanislaus have been working with landowners and other stakeholders to identify habitat management and restoration activities that can contribute to the recovery of terrestrial riparian species in the region including riparian brush rabbit and riparian wood rat. Levees in the region provide crucial high-ground refugia for such wildlife during flood events. Vegetation on levees in the region is currently not managed to facilitate levee use during floods for wildlife survival and post-flood recovery. On levees that have been or will be removed from the federal project, brushy vegetation can be re-established on the levees through a three-year restoration project and live trapping has shown that these efforts are successful for wildlife recovery. On levees that must continue to pass state and federal inspections/maintenance requirements, native grass sod has been shown to provide marginal habitat that can act as a movement corridor for terrestrial species during flood events. This project includes re-establishing appropriate vegetation on levee slopes to promote terrestrial wildlife survival during floods – either native sod on active levees, or native brush vegetation on inactive levees (RDs 2099, 2100, 2102, and 2092 in the future).

Unique Project Characteristics:
Once established, the vegetation proposed for levee slopes requires very low maintenance. On inactive levees, the vegetation is left alone after the initial 3-year establishment period. On active levees, maintenance requirements can be reduced to mowing once per year to facilitate spring inspections. Native sod promotes erosion control on levee slopes as well as wildlife usage, thus this is a multi-benefit project. On private lands, this project will require consultation with the wildlife agencies regarding future levee vegetation maintenance.
 

Project Status Planning
Project Cost $6,400,000
Project Timeframe 1-5 years
Cost-sharing Varies: Some costs for levee vegetation management may be eligible for funding from local, state or federal grant programs.
Multi-benefit Project Yes
Types of benefits The project would improve operations and maintenance; promote ecosystem functions; improve institutional support; and promote multi-benefit projects.
Source of Project River Partners

Background Information:
Check next CNGA Grasslands Journal; Various technical reports from ESRP – please request from River Partners.