Floodplain Restoration – Defenders of Wildlife Blog

GR:  If you’ve ever wondered if we could get along without nature, if you’d like to know if the only plants we need are those we plant for food, and if you wonder if the only animals we need are those we ride or eat, you may find this article interesting. It’s concerned with maintaining and restoring one of nature’s essential functions and one of the richest types of ecosystems.

Restoring Floodplains: A Multi-Benefit Strategy in a Warming Climate

“The dramatic failure of the spillway at Oroville Dam and the evacuation of 188,000 downstream residents highlight the importance of effective flood management in California. After years of drought, Californians are suffering from water whiplash, with the current swing from drought to flood conditions.

“If you think something strange is happening here, you’re right. The last seven years have included a wet 2011, five years of drought (2012-2016) – four of which were the driest four-year period in state history – and now an extraordinarily wet 2017.

“This fluctuation from wet to dry – without anything approaching average conditions – is consistent with the projections of climate scientists. In 2011, the State of California warned “(a)s the climate warms, extreme events are expected to become more frequent, including wildfires, floods, droughts, and heat waves.”

“You don’t need to make a trek to the arctic to see on-the-ground impacts of climate change. Californians can simply look to their local rivers or the Sierra Nevada. The Sierra snowpack is now the largest in two decades – 177 percent of average. This comes just two years after a record low snowpack that was only 6 percent of average. Californians are already seeing more extreme weather events.

“The last five years taught Californians that we need to make conservation a way of life and that we must invest in tools like water recycling that are drought resilient. This year – and the weather patterns of the past seven years – teach us that California must prepare for floods as well.

How can we prepare for floods?

Floodplain:  The normal overflow zone that fills with water after rainfall. It must be large enough to handle the runoff from heavy rainfall, and it must be well vegetated with flood-tolerant shrubs and trees that slow the water. This is necessary to prevent erosion and the sudden arrival of too much water downstream. (Diagram from Wired.)

“One of the best ways is to restore portions of our historic floodplains to increase the ability of our rivers to handle high flows. We’ve seen the flood-protection benefits of floodplains this year. By opening gates to the Yolo Bypass floodplain, flood managers have lowered the risk to the cities of Sacramento and West Sacramento, and avoided potentially catastrophic flooding.” –Rachel Zwillinger (Continue reading:  Floodplain Restoration – Defenders of Wildlife Blog).

Mass mangrove restoration: Driven by good intentions but offering limited results

GR:  Ecosystem restoration is difficult and expensive. The mangrove example provided here shows how easy it is for even large-scale efforts to fail. One study I read found that restoration of one acre of shrubland can cost $100,000 or more. Preservation is extremely cheap compared to restoration. Perhaps one day we humans will become a responsible species and begin devoting a large part of our wealth and energy to restoring the lands and seas that we have damaged.

“There is an urgent need to address the global degradation of coastal ecosystems, but are mass mangrove planting initiatives sustainable?”

“In recent years, hundreds and sometimes thousands of volunteers have been involved in mass mangrove planting efforts, gaining media recognition and even earning entries into the Guinness Book of World Records. This has drawn attention to the urgent need to address the global degradation of coastal ecosystems. But are these planting initiatives sustainable? Do they have the desired impact? In short, do they work?

“Coastal communities are first to face the impacts of coastal degradation – reduced flood protection, decreased water quality, extreme soil erosion and a rapid decline in the variety and abundance of food sources (many of which come from mangroves in the tropics). Mass mangrove plantings should help address these challenges in certain areas, but instead many restoration efforts worldwide (for example, in the Philippines) are failing.

What’s going wrong?

“There are several issues. Restoring a mangrove is a complex process that needs to be founded on the principles of ecosystem management. Often, fast-paced and large-scale ‘restoration events’ are not necessarily scientifically robust in terms of which mangrove species should be restored, and where.” –IUCN (Continue reading: Mass mangrove restoration: Driven by good intentions but offering limited results | IUCN.)

Bay Area Voters Approve Tax to Fix Marshes As Seas Rise | Climate Central

GR:  Individuals, not the corporations responsible for the problem are paying this tax.  Hey, Republicans, why not reverse fossil-fuel subsidies and let the fossil-fuel industry’s past profits help pay to clean up polluted air, water, and land?

John Upton:  Voters in the San Francisco Bay Area approved an unprecedented tax Tuesday to help fund an ambitious vision for restoring lost marshlands, handing electoral victory to shorebirds, crabs and advocates of a muddy strategy for adapting to rising seas.

Measure AA is projected to raise an estimated $25 million a year for 20 years. As of Wednesday morning, 69 percent of voters in the nine Bay Area counties supported it, with only a small number of votes left to be counted. The $12 annual tax proposed for each parcel of property owned in the Bay Area needed two thirds of votes to pass.  Read more:  Bay Area Voters Approve Tax to Fix Marshes As Seas Rise | Climate Central

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Protecting New England Cottontail Habitat on Cape Cod

Source: blogs.usda.gov

Yay, cottontails.  From the article:  Private landowners, conservation groups, a tribe and government agencies have joined forces to restore New England Cottontail habitat throughout New England. In Mashpee, Mass., on Cape Cod, habitat restoration work at three sites is yielding results.

Not a big area, but if we all try to accomplish as much, we can slow the mass extinction.