The California Riparian Habitat Conservation Program (CRHCP) was created within the Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB) by legislation in 1991. The program has a basic mission to develop coordinated conservation efforts aimed at protecting and restoring the state's riparian ecosystems.
Riparian habitat is composed of the trees and other vegetation and physical features normally found on the stream banks and flood plains associated with streams, lakes, or other bodies of water. Scientists have long recognized the unique value riparian habitat holds for fish and wildlife species. Unfortunately, this valuable habitat has been removed, degraded, and disturbed at an alarming rate since the first settlers arrived in California.
In recognition of this major loss of California's riparian habitat and in an effort to reverse this trend to the extent possible, many conservation organizations, state and federal agencies, and local governments are actively developing programs to protect these valuable ecosystems. The legislation which enabled the CRHCP also recognized that the responsibility for protecting and restoring riparian habitat must be shared by all state agencies whose activities impact riparian habitat. The CRHCP is therefore a cooperative effort involving state and federal agencies, local government, nonprofit conservation groups, private landowners, and concerned citizens. Flexibility is the keyword for the program to ensure that all available approaches and solutions are explored.
Program Goals and Objectives
The goals of the CRHCP, as noted in its enabling legislation, are to protect, preserve, restore and enhance riparian habitat throughout California. To achieve these goals the program has adopted the following seven objectives:
- Assess the current amount and status of riparian habitat throughout the state.
- Identify those areas which are critical to the maintenance of California's riparian ecosystems.
- Identify those areas which are in imminent danger of destruction or significant degradation.
- Prioritize protection needs based on the significance of the site and potential loss or degradation of habitat.
- Develop and fund project-specific strategies to protect, enhance, or restore significant riparian habitat.
- Develop, administer, and fund a grants program for riparian habitat conservation.
- Provide a focal point for statewide riparian habitat conservation efforts.
Eligible Applicants for Grant Funding
To accomplish the Program's objectives, while maximizing available public funds, the WCB is authorized to award grants for riparian conservation purposes (acquisition and restoration) to nonprofit organizations, local government agencies, state departments and federal agencies.
Examples of Eligible Restoration Projects
- Bank stabilization and revegetation to control excessive erosion and establish a functional riparian corridor.
- Restoration of riparian vegetation on flood-prone land.
- Installation of fencing along the riparian corridor to control and/or manage livestock or wildlife.
- Modification of the existing land form to allow a stream to regain its historic connection with its floodplain (for example, move a levee back away from the stream or remove it).
- Removal of nonnative invasive plant species and restoration (active or passive) of native riparian vegetation.
The Program is coordinating with several statewide and regional conservation programs and initiatives, including the California Riparian Habitat Joint Venture, which is developing a statewide strategy for protection and restoration of this highly valuable habitat (see more on the Web at PRBO Conservation Planning).
WCB is authorized to acquire interest in real property and water rights through gift, purchase, lease, easement, and transfer or exchange of easements, development rights or credits, and other interests in real property. For information about how to apply for funding for property acquisition, please contact your local CDFW regional office (see attached list).
For information about how to apply for funding for riparian habitat restoration, please contact the Riparian Program Manager:
Wildlife Conservation Board
Riparian Program Manager
Contact California Riparian Habitat Conservation Program