The Conservancy at 40: Urban Greening
The Coastal Conservancy was established with the core mandates of providing public access to California’s coastline and preserving endangered coastal habitats. Urban greening projects have emerged as an approach that blends the two goals in unexpected ways. Streets, medians, parking lots, and parks can bring nature to people and all the attendant benefits that come with having a respite from a heavily urban environment. They are also constructed in ways that benefit water quality, provide habitat for native species, capture and reuse stormwater, and provide shade and cooling that help reduce energy demand. Projects that incorporate those elements are referred to as urban greening projects. Green infrastructure helps restore the health of the watershed, which translates into a healthier coast, and a better environment in which people can recreate.
When first attempting to restore coastal wetlands back in the early 1980s, Conservancy staff quickly realized that most impacts were generated in the upper watersheds. Urbanization, agricultural practices, timber harvesting and other land uses in the watersheds affected the amount of sediment produced and transported, and the amount and quality of water in the streams feeding the coastal estuaries. Soon we were expanding our project scopes to include land use practices in the watersheds. In Los Angeles, the LA River became a focus of efforts to restore natural functions within the LA River watershed, and the Conservancy worked with California State Parks to create a natural park area within Rio de los Angeles State Park.
In 2008, the Coastal Conservancy worked with the City of Los Angeles Public Works Department to create the Riverdale Avenue Green Street Demonstration Project, from which the City adopted residential green street building standards. The project involved installation of infiltration tanks under the street to collect runoff, and bioswales in the parking strips. In 2012 the Conservancy gave a grant to The River Project to undertake the Los Angeles Rainwater Harvesting Project (aka Water LA) to work with homeowners in two different neighborhoods to redesign their front gardens to allow for stormwater capture and infiltration by creating bioswales and replacing concrete driveways with permeable surfaces.
Our work on climate change has increased since 2012, and several of our Southern California Climate Ready projects have focused on the water-energy nexus. Los Angeles in particular draws a huge amount of water from the State Water Project, which pumps water from northern California over the Tehachapi Mountains, into LA County. By reducing the amount of water pumped, less energy would be consumed and, by extension, fewer greenhouse gases emitted. Grants to the Council for Watershed Health and Community Conservation Solutions looked at Stormwater Capture as a Climate Adaptation Strategy and at Green Solutions for water capture and reuse on publicly owned land.
We look forward to a future where green streets are the standard, parks that provide multiple benefits to wildlife and humans are ubiquitous, and our coastal watersheds are healthy with clean water in streams and acquifers.
- Request for Partnership Proposals/Letters of Interest for the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant ProgramNOTE: This is a call-for preproposals for projects who would like to partner with the California State Coastal Conservancy in order to apply for US Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Coastal Wetlands Conservation (NCWC) Program funding. a) This is NOT the official NCWC call for applications. b) Projects hoping to receive NCWC funding are NOT […] (Read more on Request for Partnership...)
- Coastal Conservancy Awards $14.7 Million for Coastal Protection, Restoration and AccessOakland, CA – This week, the Board of the California State Coastal Conservancy awarded $14.7 million to 13 projects to protect and restore the California coast and San Francisco Bay, and increase public access to these natural resources. The projects were: NORTH COAST A grant of up to $200,000 to Gold Ridge Resource Conservation District […] (Read more on Coastal Conservancy Awards...)
- CEQA Notice of Intent to Adopt a Mitigated Negative Declaration for Save the Redwoods League’s Redwood National and State Park Visitor Center and Restoration ProjectIn accordance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) Guidelines Section 15072 and Public Resources Code Section 21092, the State Coastal Conservancy is providing notice of intent to adopt a mitigated negative declaration (MND) of environmental impact for the “Redwood National and State Parks Visitor Center and Restoration Project” as described here. The public is […] (Read more on CEQA Notice of...)