McCormack Williamson Tract Floodplain and Tidal Habitat Restoration with Audio Description

Text, McCormack Williamson Tract, Floodplain and Tidal Habitat Restoration. Water ripples around reeds as they blow in the wind. A map of Sacramento northeast of San Francisco. South of Sacramento is McCormack Williamson Tract. Anitra Pawley, Program Manager -The McCormack Williamson Tract project
is a 1500 acre restoration project on the Northeast side of the Delta. The aim
is to restore natural floodplain and tidal marsh habitats and also to reduce
flood risks in the area. These are habitats which are very rare
in the Delta, have been lost and we can recreate those habitats in this location
without significant cost as in the central Delta. -Dawit Zeleke -This is a project that
brings together the goals of the Nature Conservancy, The Department of Water
Resources, Local Reclamation District 2110, and the flood districts of
Sacramento County. It’s kind of a sweet spot in conservation because it has
multiple benefits to both people and Wildlife. The goals of the McCormack
Williamson project are habitat restoration and public safety. The
habitat restoration is the building of the tidal wetlands and the riparian forest
which serve as habitat for both fish and waterfowl and migratory birds in the
Pacific Flyway. The public safety part of the project is McCormack Williamson no
longer becomes a threat by filling up with water and having a huge slug of
water coming through the system. With McCormick Williamson tract operating the way it is, there’s uncontrolled flood events. What
happens now is that the water overflows the East levee,
flows into the tract and then you have this build up in a very short amount of
time, it breaks out the bottom creating a wall of water for the surrounding levees
and stakeholders. That’s something that the stakeholders don’t want to happen.
Contrast to that, with the restoration project we’re creating a situation where
this water can slowly drain through the island sort of like a bathtub if you
will. During the high water of 2017, the island started filling up with water,
there was a breach on the north end, and as the island was filling up the concern was it would fill up and it would have a sudden break in the levees downstream,
and all that water would start going downstream, raising the elevations on
the levees on the surrounding islands, which nobody wanted. And so the Agencies,
the Nature Conservancy, the Reclamation Districts all got together, and we
decided the best thing to do was to intentionally notch the island on the
South end to relieve the flood pressure and have the island drain on a gradual
basis instead of having a catastrophic break, which ironically is what we want
the restoration to be, but also have all this habitat structure. -A blue heron. -Prior to the flooding of 2017, the Delta Stewardship Council had funded UC Davis and other
entities to do a sort of a pre-evaluation of the restoration at
McCormack Williamson tract. It was an ideal situation it turned out because
when the island flooded they were able to actually study the island. There’s a
lot we learned through this last flood scenario, which was unplanned, because of
this existing research project. Restoration projects like the McCormack Williamson take a long time because there are so many stakeholders involved.
And this year we’ve met a major milestone, where we’ve been able to
protect infrastructure, where we have completed large portions of the design,
and really the next phase of the project is to strengthen some of the interior
levees, and to design the wetlands that are going to be there and the riparian
forests and to start implementing those projects. And this will take work with
the local communities and the local reclamation districts moving forward, but
I think our track record so far as partners with Department of Water
Resources, the Nature Conservancy and the Reclamation District make me very
bullish about completing this project. -Text, California Eco Restore, A stronger delta ecosystem. Produced by Department of Water Resources State of California. Additional footage courtesy of Judah Grossman, The Nature Conservancy.

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