WRA Co-Presenting at SJRRP Science and Engineering Meeting

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The San Joaquin River Restoration Program 2023 Science and Engineering Meeting is a two-day event May 2-3 in Fresno, California. This year’s theme is “Pathway to Success” and will highlight efforts to restore fish, flows and passage within the Restoration Area of California’s second longest river from Friant Dam to the confluence with the Merced River.

Members of WRA’s team supporting the River Rock Mitigation Bank project will attend and co-present on a talk with Sharon Weaver, Executive Director of the San Joaquin River Parkway and Conservation Trust. The presentation will highlight the multi-benefit restoration and recreation work planned for the site located on the south bank of the San Joaquin River on Wednesday, May 3rd at 1pm. Team members will include Geoff Smick, Virginia Mahacek, Nate Bello, and Andrew Smith, PE.

To learn more, visit the event website.

Presentation Abstract:

River Rock is a former 900-acre gravel mine on the south bank of the San Joaquin River, 8 miles downstream from Friant Dam and 1 mile upstream of Hwy. 41 (Reach 1a). The operator, Vulcan Materials, is planning a multibenefit project that includes stream and riparian habitat restoration and recreation benefits. The project concept includes regrading over 700 acres to expand the floodplain and create new side channels resulting in over 500 acres of new floodplain and riparian habitat. The current design has over 200 acres of floodplain that would be inundated with flows of 1,400 cfs. While the majority of the historic mining pits would be regraded, the two largest pits will remain and be used primarily for recreation.

The San Joaquin River Conservancy owns approximately one-third of the property and is a project proponent making this a great example of a public private partnership. The San Joaquin River Parkway and Conservation Trust also owns several inholdings and is a project proponent that would manage the recreation aspects of the project. While the scale of the project is impressive, it requires considerable earthwork (>4.5M cy). By creating a mitigation bank, the project sponsor can fund and implement the project with reduced financial risk. An added benefit of the project as a mitigation bank includes the establishment of a management plan and endowment to ensure the project functions well into the future.

The current grading concept was developed to minimize fish stranding and to support habitat elements of the experimental population of spring-run chinook. The project proponents are eager to receive feedback from SJRRP member agencies and experts on various aspects of the project including habitat elements, salmonid issues, and the potential for other multibenefit uses such as flood abatement and groundwater recharge.