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Background: Lower Putah Creek Restoration Planning


This is not the first planning effort focused on Lower Putah Creek. In 1986, the University of California, Davis (U.C. Davis) finalized its first management plan for the Putah Creek Riparian Reserve. The goal of protecting and enhancing the riparian and aquatic ecosystems of Lower Putah Creek were identified at that time. That plan was significantly updated with the 2005 Putah Creek Riparian Reserve Management Plan which has a primary goal of maintaining and enhancing the ecosystem health of the creek.

In 1991, lobbying by Putah Creek Council and others convinced then-Congressman Vic Fazio to include an appropriation for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to develop a resource management plan for the entire creek below Monticello Dam. The resulting document - August 1993 Fish and Wildlife Resource Management Options for Lower Putah Creek, California by the USFWS, Ecological Services Field Office - focused on the issues affecting the protection, restoration, and enhancement of fish and wildlife resources on Lower Putah Creek and recommended managment options to protect and improve the creek's resources. As part of the project, public scoping workshops were conducted in the fall of 1991 in both Davis and Winters to identify planning issues. The USFWS recommended measures to enhance fish and wildlife along the creek that included:

  • increased flows and release schedules to benefit native fishes, spawning gravels, and riparian vegetation

  • invasive weed removal

  • improving the continuity of the riparian habitat within the creek channel

  • establishing native perennial bunchgrass and oak savannah on upland areas

  • physical improvements to the creek channel, including excavating low-flow channels

  • establishment of a monitoring and research program

Some of the above measures have already been accomplished and some are ongoing. 

The next comprehensive planning effort for Lower Putah Creek began in 2005 with the Watershed Management Action Plan (WMAP). The WMAP provided a blueprint for actions to protect and enhance resources in the Lower Putah Creek watershed. The first phase of the WMAP involved doing Resource Assessments and producing a  Map Volume.  After the resource assessments were complete, the second phase of the WMAP evaluated opportunities and constraints for improving the creek, established goals and objectives, and recommended project ideas. The second phase of the WMAP in 2006 included community meetings in Winters to develop guiding principles for the process and also working groups of stakeholders for in-depth discussions and identification of criteria to select future projects. When this phase of the WMAP planning was done, the LPCCC issued a Report to the Community with a list of prioritized projects. The third phase of the WMAP was the implementation phase and the resulting 2008 Proposed Projects report. It has been used for the past nine years by the LPCCC, creek landowners and land managers, and stakeholders to identify and implement creek improvement projects to restore and enhance the lower Putah Creek watershed to a more self-sustaining ecological condition.


In September 2015, the Lower Putah Creek Coordinating Committee (LPCCC) applied for a watershed restoration planning grant from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Watershed Restoration Grant Program, which is funded by the Water Quality, Supply, and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014 (Proposition 1). Prop 1 authorized the Legislature to appropriate funds to CDFW to fund multi-benefit ecosystem and watershed protection and restoration projects and planning efforts. The LPCCC planning grant proposal was awarded funding in January, 2016 and a contract for the project was in place by mid-September, 2016 (CDFW Watershed Restoration Grant Program Grant # P1696004). This planning grant/project will have a significant amount of public outreach and engagement so that future habitat enhancement projects on Lower Putah Creek are scientifically sound and community-supported.

To stay informed about this project, enter your name and email at the following link so we can keep in touch: Lower Putah Creek Restoration Planning Email List