Raise the River is working to bring life back to the Delta.
Restoring the Delta is a long-term project. But, we are making great strides in showing how a relatively small amount of targeted and regular water flow, combined with on-the-ground restoration activities, can revive and expand the native habitat that is so vital to the Delta’s people, birds, and wildlife. Our goal is 2300 acres of restored habitat.
Raise the River partners Sonoran Institute and Pronatura Noroeste have partnered with local communities in areas of the Delta that have the best restoration potential.
The Laguna Grande Restoration area is located in the heart of the Colorado River riparian corridor in Mexico. As of year-end 2016, over 665 acres have been restored under Sonoran Institute’s leadership, with additional acreage expected to benefit from the ongoing water flows. The goal of 795 restored acres for this site by June 2018 would make this one of the largest and most dense stands of native vegetation in the Lower Colorado River. Local residents have been employed to help with the restoration and more are being trained as nature tourism guides.
Pronatura Noroeste has worked closely with the small community of Miguel Alemán to establish a 500-acre riparian restoration site located right across the river from the Yuma’s Hunters’ Hole restoration project. Planting of 233 acres of native vegetation, with over 67,000 young trees grown by local community members, has been completed, and local residents are also employed in the restoration work. Both of these projects provide habitat for at-risk bird species, including the yellow-billed cuckoo and the Yuma clapper rail.
Between 2013 and 2017 Raise the River provided active management of restoration sites, including regular releases of water, to restore over 1,000 acres of riparian habitat along the river’s main channel where more than 230,000 native cottonwoods and willow trees were planted (including the above two key sites). Raise the River was also an active participant in the scientific monitoring of the results of these environmental water flows.
In addition to these restoration results, Raise the River established a water trust in Mexico that permanently acquired water rights from voluntary sellers in the Mexicali Valley to support their commitments. This was funded by raising more than $10M for restoration and water acquisition from U.S. and Mexico foundations, corporations, federal agencies, and individuals.
Raise the River engaged over 9,800 local residents, school children, and volunteers from around the world in on-site restoration work and environmental education programs, as well as created more than 140 jobs in 2016 alone, related to completing the restoration work.
Raise the River’s successful habitat restoration under Minute 319 helped lay the foundation for Minute 323. On a larger scale, this project shows how governments and stakeholders with diverse interests can come together to manage the river for people and nature in the face of drought. If it can be done across international borders, then surely we can do it in the rest of the Colorado River Basin and other places in the world.