On Northern California's Cosumnes River, the only remaining waterway flowing unchecked from the Sierra Nevada to the Sacramento River Delta, a new research project is beginning that is likely to become a model for future river management and restoration across the nation.
The Cosumnes Research Group is the outgrowth of a long-standing collaborative relationship between UC Davis scientists and The Nature Conservancy, which operates the Cosumnes River Preserve and is its largest landowner.
Start-up funds of $1.5 million have been provided by the CALFED Ecosystem Restoration Program and $500,000 by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation Conservation Program. Participants in the research program include the state, federal and private partners in the Cosumnes River Preserve, the East Bay Metropolitan Utility District and local landowners.
"In this new project, the Cosumnes watershed will serve as an extraordinary natural laboratory and classroom," said Jeffrey Mount, chair of geology at UC Davis and director of the UC Davis Watershed Center. "The river has an active floodplain and no dams, making it ideal for studying the relationship between the hydrologic cycle and the plant, animal and human communities that live in the watershed. What we learn here will have implications for how we manage our relationship with all of the rivers of the Great Central Valley."
The work of the Cosumnes Research Group is of critical importance in guiding the preserve's management and restoration activities, said Mike Eaton, director of The Nature Conservancy's Cosumnes River/Delta Project. "We expect this program to become a model for collaboration elsewhere. We also recognize the tremendous research values of these lands and encourage learning on location at all age levels."
Since its first purchase of a 100-acre grove of valley oaks on the Cosumnes River in 1984, The Nature Conservancy has secured permanent protection for nearly 40,000 acres in the floodplains
Contact: Jeffrey Mount
University of California - Davis