Grant to help discover restoration opportunities for California’s Russian River

May 22, 2015 — The Freshwater Trust received $124,875 from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation to expand a Geographic Information Systems (GIS)-based methodology known as StreamBank® BasinScout™ to assess and prioritize potential conservation opportunities in California’s Russian River basin.

“The BasinScout methodology was designed to give communities, conservation funders and restoration partners a road map to restoring freshwater health at the basin-scale,” said Joe Whitworth, president of The Freshwater Trust. “This analysis will make it possible to direct funds to the sites and projects that will have the biggest impact on the watershed as a whole.”

Snaking southward and draining Sonoma and Mendocino counties, the Russian River provides valuable drinking water for several hundred thousand Californians and serves as critical wildlife habitat for fish migration and spawning. The watershed has also been used to support vineyards and valuable orchard crops. Yet loss of streamside vegetation and excess sediment from runoff have impacted the region’s waters.

Restoration actions, such as planting trees along a river bank, and agricultural practices, such as conservation tillage and cover cropping, can reduce “non-point” sources of pollution like runoff. Yet historically it’s been difficult to assign value to restoration actions or prioritize them in a meaningful way.

“Throughout the United States, conservation in general is largely opportunistic with funding directed to projects where conservation-minded landowners show interest – as opposed to being guided by prioritized lists of projects that can generate significant benefits for water quality,” said Whitworth. “We’re hoping to change that. Cooperative environmental solutions have the potential to dramatically expand the pace and scale of restoration across the landscape.”

Founded in 1983, The Freshwater Trust is a 501 (c)(3) not-for-profit that uses technology, data, and cooperative, market-based solutions that benefit rivers, working lands and local communities. The organization is dedicated to accelerating the pace and scale of river restoration in order to achieve environmental gains on a timeline that matters. For more information, visit www.thefreshwatertrust.org or 503.222.9091 x30.

The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation believes in bold ideas that create enduring impact in the areas of science, environmental conservation and patient care. Intel co-founder Gordon and his wife Betty established the foundation to create positive change around the world and at home in the San Francisco Bay Area. Environmental conservation efforts promote sustainability, protect critical ecological systems and align conservation needs with human development. Patient care focuses on eliminating preventable harms and unnecessary healthcare costs through meaningful engagement of patients and their families in a supportive, redesigned healthcare system. Science looks for opportunities to transform-or even create-entire fields by investing in early-stage research, emerging fields and top research scientists. Visit Moore.org or follow @MooreFound.


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