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Restoration of the Lower American River Parkway. Part I. Landscape history and planning background.
BROWN, SHERYL*,1, BURWELL, TREVOR1, 1 JONES & STOKES, SACRAMENTO, CA
ABSTRACT- The 6,047-acre Lower American River (LAR) Parkway is one of the largest natural landscapes within an urban setting in the United States, providing recreation and riparian habitat along a 25-mile corridor in Sacramento, California. Conflicting land uses, flood control projects and water management projects, however, have fundamentally altered riparian ecosystem patterns and processes and degraded habitat. Gold rush-era mining resulted in excess sediment inputs to the system and aggraded historic floodplain elevations. Construction of Folsom Dam and controlled flow releases subsequently starved the LAR of sediment and reduced the frequency and magnitude of flood events. Consequently, an incised river channel and elevated floodplain surfaces characterize the present river corridor. Existing mature riparian forest and woodland are senescing and there is limited new suitable floodplain for regeneration. Bank erosion, wildfire, relict mining debris, and nonnative species threaten remaining native riparian habitat and limit its regeneration. To address future flood control, urban and natural resource management issues, the LAR Task Force was formed in 1996 as a consensus-based consortium of federal, state, and local agencies; members of the public; and interest groups and organizations. The LAR Task Force developed the River Corridor Management Plan (RCMP), a multi-disciplinary planning document that incorporates recreation, public safety, flood control and water supply with riparian habitat restoration and management. The RCMP provides an instructive approach to multi-disciplinary planning, adaptive management and restoration of complex urban wild lands.
KEY WORDS: riparian habitat restoration, stakeholder processes, vegetation management, adaptive management