Coastal Conservancy Awards 11 Climate Ready Project Implementation Grants

In January 2015 the Coastal Conservancy awarded more than $2 million for 11 competitively selected projects to help California adapt to climate change. The funding came from the second grant round of the Climate Ready program, designed to help California’s coastal and San Francisco Bay Area communities prepare for rising seas, drought, warming temperatures, and other effects of a changing climate.

This grant round focused on funding implementation of on-the-ground multiple-benefit actions that provide public benefits while lessening the impacts of climate change on coastal communities and natural resources. The awarded projects were chosen from 32 proposals received. More than $9.7 million was requested—a clear indication that there is a widespread, immediate, and recognized need to fund implementation of activities that reduce the effects of climate change.

The focus of the projects is to increase resiliency of urban areas, agricultural operations, and wetlands and wildlife habitat. Project objectives include creating greener and cooler parks in inner-city neighborhoods, restoring tidal wetlands for flood protection and wildlife refuges, and improving rangeland management practices to conserve rainwater, improve soil health, and increase carbon sequestration.

Climate Ready Round 2 grant awards are described in more detail below:

South Coast

  • From Lot to Spot is receiving $206,000 to restore one-half mile of Dominguez Creek in Hawthorne, Los Angeles County. The restoration will include plantings of 60 trees and more than 1,500 native plants plus renovation of an existing bike path that is expected to draw more than 12,500 annual users. Students at nearby Environmental Charter High School will help design and maintain the project and enlist community support for its construction. The project is modeled on the success of restoration of another area along the creek south of Rosecrans Avenue.
  • The Trust for Public Land is receiving $200,000 to transform an underutilized alley at 51st Street and Avalon Boulevard in South Los Angeles into a “green alley” that will be integrated with the life of the community. Existing black asphalt will be replaced with a light-colored permeable surface that will capture stormwater and allow for its storage underground. Local volunteers will join in planting fruit trees and climbing vines and making the alley a desirable place for outdoor recreation and social gatherings. Along with its neighborhood benefits, the alley will reduce flows of polluted and trash-laden stormwater to Compton Creek, the Los Angeles River, and, ultimately, the ocean.
  • The Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation will apply its $100,000 grant to transform the popular Eugene A. Obregon Park in East Los Angeles into a model “green park” that will help the community adapt to effects of a changing climate, including reduced rainfall and rising temperatures. 30,000 square feet of dark asphalt will be replaced with light-colored porous pavement to capture underground rainwater while cooling the pavement surface and surrounding air. The revamped park will feature drought-tolerant trees, plants, and grasses to reduce water use plus basins and swales to collect stormwater and allow it to percolate into the ground.

Central Coast

  • The Coastal San Luis Resource Conservation District is using its $308,000 grant to demonstrate on-farm practices that will help ranchers adapt to drought, extreme storms, and other effects of a changing climate. Rangeland operations throughout the State are suffering from decreased productivity from drought that reduces forage production and water availability for livestock. At the same time, they are threatened with more extreme storms and flooding that can wash away soils. Adaptive management practices, however, can help soils retain rainwater and minimize erosion while improving wildlife habitats and increasing the capture of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, from the atmosphere. The demonstration site is located at the base of Hollister Peak near Morro Bay and will be open to presentations and field tours.
  • The Resource Conservation District of Santa Cruz County is using its $200,000 grant to help Pajaro Valley farmers adapt to the effects of climate change by reducing the use of irrigation water, limiting soil erosion, and improving soil health and resiliency to extreme weather. The Pajaro Valley, located in southern Santa Cruz and northern Monterey Counties, has the highest per-acre farm production value in California. It supports an $895 million dollar agricultural industry that is threatened by droughts that reduce water availability, extreme storms that cause flooding and topsoil erosion, and sea level rise that exacerbates saltwater intrusion into underground freshwater aquifers.

San Francisco Bay Area

  • The Trust for Conservation Innovation is applying its $236,000 grant to establish demonstration grassland restoration plots on grazing land at three Bay Area locations: TomKat Ranch in San Mateo County, Rush Ranch in Solano County, and Sears Point in Sonoma County. The California Rangeland Conservation Coalition will conduct the work, which will include plantings of native perennial grasses, management and monitoring, and sharing of results with land managers and ranchers throughout the State. The project is expected to demonstrate how native grasses can be used to make rangelands more resilient to effects of climate change—longer dry spells, reduced rainfall, and higher temperatures—while improving habitats for wildlife.
  • The Alameda County Resource Conservation District is using its $250,000 grant to install, improve, and repair livestock watering facilities on 6,260 acres of the Sunol Regional Wilderness. The existing watering facilities include developed springs, stock ponds, troughs, pumps, pipelines and storage tanks that date back to the 1950s and are well beyond their expected useful life. The new and refurbished facilities will allow grazing practices that are adaptable to drought and other effects of climate change while protecting wetlands and other sensitive wildlife habitats. Lessons from and results of the project will be shared with land managers and ranchers throughout California through meetings, workshops, and other outreach efforts.
  • Save the Bay is applying its $126,000 grant to restore 1.75 acres of wildlife habitat on the upper edge of San Francisco Bay marshes—the “transition zone” between tidal wetlands and uplands. Healthy transition zones can respond quickly to rising sea levels by migrating inland, ensuring that valuable marsh habitats are maintained while providing flood protection to shoreline communities. The restoration site is within the Eden Landing Ecological Reserve in Hayward adjacent to 2.5 acres whose restoration is already underway. About 1,000 volunteers are expected to assist in the restoration work, which will include replacement of invasive vegetation with plants native to the bay.
  • The Watershed Project is using its $202,000 grant to improve the water quality of Baxter Creek by building two bioswales—vegetated, shallow ditches that collect and filter stormwater—in the parking lot of Booker T. Anderson, Jr. Park in Richmond. The section of Baxter Creek that runs through the park was restored in 2001, but runoff from the parking lot continues to pollute the creek. The project will benefit shoreline habitats of San Francisco Bay, less than a mile downstream, and will add to almost twenty years of restoration efforts along different sections of the creek. It will also make the park more resilient to aggravated flooding expected from climate change and will serve as a model for restoring the creek in other areas.
  • The National Audubon Society is applying its $200,000 grant to improve water drainage and wildlife habitat in marshlands along Sonoma Creek south of Highway 37 near Sears Point. Abandoned levees in the marsh—a former hayfield—cause water to pond for long periods, leading to high populations of mosquitoes and degraded habitat for wildlife. California Audubon will excavate drainage channels, build refuge areas for wildlife, and, using excavated materials, construct a 10-acre, gradually sloping transition zone on the marsh’s edge that will provide flood protection for neighboring lands. The work will help the area adapt to effects of climate change including sea level rise, extreme storm events, and warming temperatures.

North Coast

  • The Gold Ridge Resource Conservation District is using its $218,000 grant to construct a 1.4-million-gallon pond and rainwater catchment system that will enable a dairy to stop diverting water during the summer from Salmon Creek near Bodega. The project, designed in part through a 2013 Climate Ready grant, will eliminate one of the largest summer diversions of water from the creek. The creek contains historic habitat for coho salmon and steelhead trout, whose survival is threatened by reduced rainfall resulting from climate change. The project will allow the dairy to capture rainwater from a barn roof and store it for use in the summer, when reduced stream flows are particularly damaging to the fish.

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