Building Climate Resiliency in the Navarro River Watershed

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 on natural and working lands, including for forests, shrubs, grasslands, vineyards, orchards and urban areas
  • The infrastructure to quantify greenhouse gas benefits to encourage private and public investment into land stewardship activities.

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 on 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.

The first of several community meetings was held on November 11, 2023 at the Anderson Valley Grange.

Greenhouse Gas Inventory

A major focus of this project is to create a baseline reference scenario to better understand the trajectory of natural and working lands in terms of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions, opportunities for carbon sequestration and vulnerabilities of sequestered carbon to natural disturbances. The GHG Inventory will include accounting for carbon, nitrous oxide, and methane across all natural and working lands including coniferous forest, oak forests, orchards, shrublands, grasslands, riparian forests, vineyards, 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).

GHG emissions and carbon stocks will be assessed using historic and current data to interpret trends of change in terms of land use and in terms of the carbon storage and GHG emissions within each of the land cover types assessed. 

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

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: