Dreaming The Salinas is an innovative and collaborative region-based restoration and conservation initiative to reconcile nature and cultures along the 174-mile Salinas River corridor and the 4200 square mile watershed it serves. The premise is that dreaming the future can create the future, that by asking what success would look like and what are our dreams a transformative process can begin resulting in envisioning do-able dreams and serve as a tool and template for place-based initiatives elsewhere. It is itself inspired by the Dreaming New Mexico campaign, a semi-finalist this year in the Buckminster Fuller Challenge.
Dreaming the Salinas was Campaign was launched at the 2011 Central Coast Bioneers conference, with workshops that brought together community leaders, experts, stakeholders, farmers, military users, concerned citizens, environmental groups, fishermen, watershed communities, Native Americans, and Monterey and San Luis Obispo Counties, and to leverage the network and resources of the sustainability know-how of community partners and friends, to identify actions that can be taken to restore and conserve the Salinas watershed. As permaculturist Brock Dolman says, our watersheds are our lifeboats.
The Salinas River has been identified as one of the, if not THE most degraded major watersheds in California. The river runs from the mountains above Lake Santa Margarita in San Luis Obispo County and terminates in Monterey Bay at Seaside. Damming of its tributaries has resulted in a loss of water volume, causing an end to critical habitat for anadromous species in the River and its tributaries, and, combined with groundwater pumping near the River, is threatening the River’s Free Flow. The lack of water at the far end of the river has caused salt-water intrusion problem in Monterey County. Extensive sand and gravel mining far in excess of the River’s replenishment rate has diminished natural silt flows which has caused the river to carve out new borders, resulting in a loss of farmland. Siting of industrial uses along the River, like asphalt recycling plants, has had impacts on soil and water quality and the noise has impacted humans and wildlife. Human activity in the river has also affected its use by wildlife as a migration and habitat corridor for wildlife and recreation by humans.
This year, Ecologistics is proud to feature two new workshops and a report on the status of the Dreaming the Salinas campaign.
Panel 2 – Water Quality: Balancing Ecological Recovery Within Economic Viability
In the Salinas River, water quality and how to manage land uses to prevent water quality degradation continue to be at the forefront of conversations between agricultural producers, municipalities, local interest groups, and federal, state, and local regulatory agencies.
The Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board (CCRWQCB) has issued the Agriculture Order for waste discharges as well as 3 Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDLs) permits for nutrients, pesticides, and sediment. Together with Stormwater Management Plans, these regulations set criteria for reducing
discharge of pollutants into surface water bodies. The federal National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Fisheries Service has been working with CCRWQCB to assist them in developing and implementing these permits for the protection of Endangered Species Act-listed species. The Channel
Maintenance Program, conducted by land owners for flood risk reduction, and Food Safety, which removes riparian and wetland vegetation to insure safe food production, are two programs that impede water quality improvements.
Resource agencies and local stakeholders have been working together to develop reasonable ecological practices to meet food production goals and habitat conservation. However, what is unknown is how to meet the ecological needs of the Salinas River by improving water quality conditions while preserving the economic vitality of the Central Coast. This workshop will frame outstanding water quality issues, report on recent discussions among various stakeholders, and hopefully foster continued dialogue and
generate ideas that should help produce reasonable multi-beneficial alternatives that can be implemented.
Devin Best Devin is a Natural Resource Management Specialist in the Protected Resources Division of the National Marine Fisheries Service. For the past year he has been conducting consultations for federally funded bank stabilization projects, road building, pier construction, dam operations, land use development and water rights that may affect federally listed salmonids within Monterey, Santa Cruz and San Luis Obispo Counties. Prior to his employment with NMFS, Devin was Restoration Project Manager for the Crooked River Watershed Council in Oregon, developing restoration projects for 2.8 million acres of Crook, Wheeler, Grant, Deschutes, Harney, Lake and Jefferson Counties. He was also formerly employed by the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, Oregon to conduct fisheries research of steelhead populations in the Lower Deschutes River. Devin’s goal is to work at the watershed scale to see recovery of anadromous species, improved water quality and to help foster stewardship of the environment.
Robert brings 30+ years of managerial experience to the agricultural and environmental communities. After graduating with a B.A. in History from UC Berkeley in 1981 he joined the start-up team of the Salinas based Tanimura & Antle Company, which is now amongst the leading worldwide independent producer of fresh vegetables.
In 1986 Robert returned to San Francisco Bay Area to manage real estate and pursue his MBA. After earning a degree in International business, Robert spent 10 years in the technology industry providing consulting services to organizations such as Stanford University, Genentech, UCSF and British Telecom. Robert returned to agriculture in 1998, consulting on the Salinas Valley Water Project. In 2001, he founded the Cooper Land Corporation, which manages closely held, prime agricultural ranches in the Blanco region of the Salinas Valley. In 2008, he graduated from the California Agricultural Leadership Program as a Fellow of Class 35. Robert is currently developing cost/benefit models for integrating “Eco-systems Services” into Salinas Valley agricultural land use. Collaborative partnerships include UC Berkeley College of Natural Resources, California Agricultural Leadership Program, Central Coast Wetlands Group, EcoAgriculture Partners and Salinas Valley River Channel Coalition.