Our Work

Our Work

Central Valley Flood Protection Plan and Conservation Strategy

Central Valley Flood Protection Plan and Conservation Strategy

The State of California plans the future of the state’s flood control system through 5-year updates to its Central Valley Flood Protection Plan (CVFPP), with a focus on ensuring public safety and reducing flood risks. Recognizing that the flood control system strongly influences riverine ecosystem health, the State has committed to enhancing riverine ecology as part of its management of floodways, levees, and bypasses in the Central Valley. Passage of the Central Valley Flood Protection Act in 2008 underscored the urgent need to improve the natural functions of floodways, to restore habitats, and to support the recovery of native species.

Working with the California Department of Water Resources (DWR), H. T. Harvey & Associates has played, and continues to play, an essential role in the long-term planning of the State’s effort to improve river and floodplain ecosystems. For the 2012 CVFPP, we participated in development of a Conservation Framework. Building on this framework, we continued to provide leadership, technical expertise, and content, while participating in numerous in-depth consultations with DWR and other resource agencies, ultimately developing the 2017 CVFPP Conservation Strategy. 

The Conservation Strategy, with a scope covering flood facilities throughout the Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys, describes a comprehensive, science-based, and implementable approach to integrating conservation into flood management. It identifies issues, provides goals and measurable objectives, and describes tactics for achieving objectives. The work of our team also provides guidance for implementing the strategy by outlining ways to share costs, optimize project benefits, fund conservation, streamline regional permitting, coordinate proactive mitigation efforts, and adaptively manage the strategy through monitoring and evaluation.

In addition to crafting the Conservation Strategy, H. T. Harvey & Associates synthesized current scientific knowledge of 17 special-status, at-risk, river-dependent species that represent one focus of the strategy. From our synthesis, we developed 17 species-specific conservation plans, for Swainson’s hawk, yellow-billed cuckoo, least Bell’s vireo, bank swallow, Chinook salmon, riparian brush rabbit, giant garter snake, and others. Another focus of the Conservation Strategy, reduction of invasive plants throughout the flood system, is guided by our Invasive Plant Management Plan. 

To further shepherd implementation of the Conservation Strategy, our permitting experts are developing a way to obtain permits for large sets of multi-benefit projects, by region. We will use Habitat Conservation Plans and other regional planning mechanisms to cover projects, operations and maintenance activities, vegetation management, restoration, and other activities benefiting numerous species and habitats. Our team, alongside State and federal resource agencies, participates in the Interagency Advisory Committee and various subgroups supporting this major project. Our staff also provides insight and technical expertise on the Technical Advisory Committee that spearheads finding ways to improve fish habitat within the flood control system. Additionally, we are assisting DWR in developing a protocol to identify and remove hazardous trees on levees, but to retain beneficial vegetation where feasible. Lastly, and essential to all of these efforts, we have contributed significantly to education, outreach, and public workshops, which seek to win buy-in and broad support by key stakeholders and the public.