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Record Year for California Wetland Restoration

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(Sacramento, CA)
Monday, June 4, 2012

Since its start two decades ago, the Wetlands Reserve Program has restored one-fourth of California's wetlands.  It pays farmers and ranchers who voluntarily set aside -- and in some cases replant -- land that has historically been natural wetland.

Dean Kwasny is with the Natural Resources Conservation Service, which administers the program. He says it's restored wetlands in nearly every county in the state.

KWASNY: "So we've done tidal marsh restoration, we've done mountain meadow restoration projects on these wet meadow habitats, we've done projects along the San Joaquin river."

Marla DeDomenico-Bleecher and her family recently enrolled 4,500 acres of ranchland south of Sacramento.
The addition of her family land joins together several protected areas, creating about 32 square miles of grassland vernal pools -- possibly the largest in the state.
She says not only are they protecting unique habitat and wildlife but the NRCS program allows them to continue to graze cattle on the land.
DE DOMENICO-BLEECHER: "Because they discovered that they need the cattle to graze down the areas in the vernal pool, otherwise the grasses take over."
The project is a win-win-win, says Mike Conner of the Nature Conservancy, who also worked on the project.  First, it preserves natural waterways and grasslands, and: 

CONNER: "The win for ranching and agriculture, with the development potential removed, the ranch will always remain in ranching and ag.
And the win for people is by creating wetlands upstream that hold water that would otherwise flood residents downstream, during high flows it's providing flood prevention."
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