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A Delta Renewed: A Guide to Science-Based Ecological Restoration in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

April Robinson, Samuel Safran, Julie Beagle, J. Letitia Grenier, Robin Grossinger, Erica Spotswood, Scott Dusterhoff, Amy Richey | November 1st, 2016

A Delta Renewed and the larger Delta Landscapes project are part of an ongoing effort to address these critically important challenges. They provide guidance for restoration that renews critical functions over time without having major negative impacts on the current human enterprise in the Delta area and on other areas dependent on its services. The idea is to determine the most efficient ways to recover Delta functioning so that human benefits are maintained, while investing in process-based recovery of landscape functions. The scientists working on this project assume that this goal is best achieved if we can understand how the Delta functioned before major European modification. We can then use that knowledge as a guide to developing a diverse portfolio of habitats and connections that might sustain native species, and the attributes of a healthy Delta into the future. The effort to reconstruct the Delta of the early 1800s has been challenging, but is now completed. The next step is to devise management scenarios that will recover important functions and native species where possible. There is no intent to try to recreate the Delta of the past. That is impossible without sacrificing our objective of maintaining and even improving the human enterprises now present. What is essential now is to obtain general agreement among all of the stakeholders, which includes all citizens of California, that the Delta should be managed for the benefit of people and wildlife in a sustainable way. Given the uncertainties inherent in any large-scale reconciliation effort, there is a real need to appreciate the complex interactions and inter-dependencies that characterize the various components of the Delta landscape. There is also a need to understand the uncertainties of future climate change and to recognize the diversity of needs among our fellow citizens. Our hopes for success will ultimately depend on generating a spirit of cooperation for the common good. It won’t be easy, but the stakes are high. The Delta Landscapes project is dedicated to that goal.


floodplain restoration, history, infrastructure, land use, planning and management, Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta, science management, stormwater, water quality