Prospects for preservation and restoration of riparian forests in the Sacramento Valley, California, USA

TitleProspects for preservation and restoration of riparian forests in the Sacramento Valley, California, USA
Publication TypeJournal Article
Hunter JC, Willett KB, McCoy MC, Quinn JF, Keller KE
Type of Articlearticle
Year of Publication1999

This GIS-based study analyzes the distribution and management of woody riparian vegetation in California's Sacramento Valley and discusses the prospects for its conservation. Although forests were the predominant floodplain vegetation prior to extensive settlement, only 3.3\% of floodplain was covered by forest in the late 1980s. This remaining forest was fragmented into 2607 patches with an average area of 3.1 ha. Only 180 patches were >10 ha, with three patches >100 ha. Despite over two decades of conservation efforts, these forests are essentially unpreserved: Only 14.5\% of extant forests are in public ownership or on land managed primarily for biological conservation. Some privately owned forests represent opportunities for preservation, but owing to their small size and scattered distribution, reforestation would be necessary to obtain a high cover of forest over large areas. Additionally, high property values, existing land uses, and regulated hydrology constrain conservation efforts. As a consequence of these constraints, and current distribution and ownership patterns, preservation or restoration of substantial areas of riparian forest would be extremely expensive and would divert conservation resources from other habitats in this rapidly developing state. Therefore, efforts to conserve these forests should satisfy two criteria: (1) that the specific goals are attainable with available funding and existing human uses, and (2) funding the effort will result in more effective regional conservation than would funding the conservation of other habitats.

Journal DateJUL
KeywordsCentral Valley
Citation KeyHunter1999