Development of Revegetation Strategies, Methods, and Infrastructure to Meet Land Retirement and Restoration Demands in the Central Valley of California

Project ID: 1224
Principal Investigator: Ken Lair
Research Topic: Ecosystem Needs
Funded Fiscal Years: 2004
Keywords: None

Research Question

This proposal targets three major activities to develop partnerships and increase involvement of water users and suppliers to:

Expedite refinement and application of research on species adaptation, and planting methods in light of limited supplemental water, extreme soil salinity, and weed competition

Develop infrastructure and coordination between research, industry, and end users that will connect agency, commercial, and private stakeholders in common, cost-effective pursuit of site restoration

Determine how plant selection, propagation, seed increase, and supply of plant materials can be coordinated for landscape-scale application

This latter activity will incorporate research, interagency cooperation, and coordination with commercial retail supply.

Need and Benefit

Thousands of acres of farmland impacted by drainage are being retired from irrigated agriculture in the central-western San Joaquin Valley as one avenue to mitigate a complex drainage problem. The Land Retirement Program (LRP) is implemented under the authority of the Central Valley Project Improvement Act (CVPIA) by an interagency team with representatives from Reclamation (with support from Reclamation Science and Technology [S&T] Program funding), Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS).

In order to assess restoration potential for and environmental impacts of land retirement, a 5-year, 15,000-acre research and demonstration project has been implemented with the assistance of the California State University--Stanislaus' Endangered Species Recovery Program (ESRP).

Soil and ground water salinity and selenium and boron content are of concern because of potential toxicity to wildlife and plants and resultant biogeochemical constraints on native plant re-establishment, vigor and productivity. Results of the demonstration project also have shown that retired agricultural lands provide valued wildlife habitat and do not result in the increased bio-accumulation of selenium. Although the existing projects have produced valuable information, results applicable to large-scale restoration techniques are incomplete and, as such, are of limited value to CVP end users and LRP stakeholders. Viable recommendations to land owners and water users regarding plant establishment techniques, weed control, cover crop usage, soil texture amelioration and species adaptation, and soil microbial remediation are needed. Of particular importance to fulfill the objectives of the CVPIA and LRP, for which Reclamation is the responsible project lead, is development of revegetation protocols, agency/commercial/private infrastructure, and product (e.g., native seed, planting guidelines) delivery avenues sufficient to fully address land retirement needs on a landscape scale.

Considerable research is still needed, particularly on species adaptation; seeding/planting methods; seed harvest and storage techniques; supplemental water needs during initial plant establishment phases; and economically sound infrastructure logistics connecting seed production to demand. This latter activity entails development and dissemination of strategies and techniques that integrate Reclamation research results with end user land retirement needs, CVPIA and Westlands Water District (WWD) stakeholders, NRCS Plant Materials Centers, and the commercial seed industry. These strategies entail public workshops and complex multiple-entity coordination to disseminate techniques and protocols for collecting, increasing and growing weed-free plant materials; seed processing and conditioning; harvest equipment; storage; seed testing; certification through California Department of Agriculture (CDA), and many other technical issues.

Reclamation and ESRP leadership in interagency coordination with landowners, stakeholders, and private industry to achieve these goals will be of foremost importance. Surface water salvage, water delivery efficiency, ground water quality, and sustainability of soils as an adequate growth medium for LRP restoration activities are all critical issues that will be addressed more completely by this proposal.

Contributing Partners

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Research Products

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Last Updated: 4/4/17