What does Climate Resilience look like for our community?

The Navarro River Watershed is the largest continuous coastal watershed in Mendocino County. It is rich with natural beauty and resources – from oak woodlands in the highlands, to the river valleys of Boonville and Philo, to the redwood forests at the “deep end” of the watershed. It is also threatened by many of the concerns that plague many regions of California: drought, wildfire, and depleted water resources that pose a threat to people and to endangered coho salmon. MCRCD has partnered with many of the local leaders in the region – Dogwood Springs Forestry, Anderson Valley Land Trust, Anderson Valley Fire Department, Anderson Valley Winegrowers Association, and San Francisco Estuary Institute – to begin to answer this question in a project funded by the Environmental Defense Fund.

The Goal:

  • Build on and support community driven stewardship efforts to increase climate benefits and ecosystem resiliency within the natural and working lands of the Navarro Watershed.
  • Develop a framework for investments in the improvement of the Navarro Watershed’s environmental and ecological assets
  • Be a model for climate resilience for California and beyond

The Outcome:

  • A Greenhouse Gas inventory for the entire Navarro River Watershed – a method for measuring increases or decreases to carbon stored in the landscape
  • Increased Community understanding and funding support to implement climate beneficial activities for forests, grasslands, vineyards, orchards and urban areas
  • The infrastructure to create a credible carbon market to fund land stewardship activities undertaken voluntarily by private landowners

Click through each slide to learn more about components of the project!

Community Engagement

The Navarro Watershed has an active and committed group of engaged landowners, public agencies, and non-profit organizations. Building on the success and trust of existing efforts, this project will support more community engagement our climate resiliency through community meetings and support to local organizations. This project hopes to reinvigorate our understanding of place in the Navarro River Watershed, to restore connections with indigenous communities that were forcibly removed from the land, and to encourage a stewardship ethic among all the residents of the Navarro Watershed.

Project outcomes will include “Activities Sheets” that detail specific stewardship activities (like forest thinning, or compost application on vineyards) that landowners can take to improve carbon storage in the landscape. A few willing landowners will be selected to implement these activities as “pilots” to demonstrate the type of work that could be funded through a carbon accounting program.

Greenhouse Gas Inventory

A major focus of this project to create a baseline reference scenario to better understand the direction each land cover type is evolving in terms of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions (i.e. are oak woodlands trending upwards, with carbon stocks increasing, or downwards, with carbon being lost). This GHG Inventory will include accounting for carbon, nitrous oxide, and methane across all land cover types including coniferous forest, oak forests, orchards, grasslands, riparian forests, vineyards, shrublands, and urban/developed areas. Inventories are being developed using publicly available spatial data and other resources and are measured in units of Carbon Dioxide Equivalent (CO2e).

In the end, GHG stocks will be assessed based on data from 2001 and will be compared to conditions in 2016 to understand the rate at which CO2e is being stored or emitted from each land type.

Historical Ecology

Historical Ecology is a process of looking back through history to imagine what the land looked like before European Settlement. In a process developed by the San Francisco Estuary Institute (SFEI), experts collect historical resources to create a map to better envision environmental conditions and ecological benefits of the historic landcover and prioritize actions based on that reference scenario. This product helps us understand the potential CO2e storage in our landscape and take actions to restore or improve our current conditions.

Through this project SFEI is beginning the process of assembling a Historical Ecology for the entire Navarro River Watershed. All products developed through this process will be available on our website for those who are curious.

Assessing and Prioritizing Actions

Based on the analysis and discussion generated by this project, suggested activities will be developed and prioritized. Opportunities to take action to preserve and restore CO2e stocks through stewardship will be synthesized into “Activities Sheets” which describe the activity, applicability criteria to implement it, maintenance and monitoring, and its estimated benefit in terms of GHGs addressed and environmental co-benefits like reduced flood risk or enhanced habitat corridors.

The process of identifying and prioritizing activities will include a technical advisory committee and community discussion.

Management Activity Tracking & Reporting System

Keeping track of Project activities and their anticipated climate benefits is a critical element in building credibility in any GHG accounting system. A monitoring and reporting system must keep track of the implemented activities, the quantified carbon reductions and/or removals associated with their activities, any alternative funding sources, and the timing in which benefits occur. The monitoring will occur at the watershed scale – tracking carbon storage overtime in our landscapes.

Ideally, monitoring and reporting will show that the needle is moving in a positive direction to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as a watershed, either through sequestration actions or activities to avoid emissions.

This project is funded by

Our Partnering Organizations: