Comprehensive plan takes in Colusa watershed needs
• Protect, maintain and improve water quality.
• Promote activities to ensure a dependable water supply for current and future needs.
• Preserve agricultural land and open space.
• Manage and reduce invasive plant populations.
• Reduce destructive flooding.
• Enhance soil quality and reduce erosion.
• Preserve and enhance native habitat.
• Address unknown future effects of climate change.
The first comprehensive Colusa Basin Watershed Management Plan is done, a kind of roadmap to the health of an area of more than 1 million acres.
The plan has a variety of goals and specific projects — each with a suggested implementation or action plan.
However, it is strictly voluntary whether landowners want to take part, and funding for such projects is difficult to find, said Mary Fahey, watershed coordinator for the Colusa County Resource Conservation District.
"I think our biggest challenge will be to get funding. There are specific goals and actions in the plan ... and that is going to take funding," Fahey said.
"But everything in the plan are very do-able. ... Some of the (projects) can be done by landowners on their own and would not cost very much."
The others, Fahey admits, could have a significant cost.
"There just is not a lot of grant funding out there ... so we have to get a little creative. There is funding out there — it is just harder to find," Fahey said.
It took Fahey nearly three years to put the plan together. She is quick to credit a number of other agencies and individuals who helped make it happen.
She said it is driven by the various stakeholders within the watershed, and the success or failure of the goals will largely depend on those same interests.
"There has never been a plan like this in place," she said. "We have called it in the past random acts of conservation, and this is a comprehensive plan that takes in the whole watershed area, which includes part of Glenn County and Yolo County."
The watershed takes in 1,045,445 acres — or about 1,634 square miles.
The watershed extends from the Stony Creek Watershed in the north to the Cache Creek Watershed in the south, and from the Sacramento River westward to the inner Coast Range foothills.
It largely drains into the Sacramento River at Knights Landing throught he Colusa Basin Drain.
Less than 1 percent of the area is urbanized, with the primary use being agriculture.
Another challenge is the fact that some watershed coordinator positions are being eliminated. The grant that funded Fahey's position ends at the end of January. While she will stay on at the Resource District in a different capacity, her duties will change.
That means that if projects addressed in the plan are to be started, it may be the private landowners who must initiate them.
Fahey admits that is not likely. "It is not their first priority," she said.
"I think for this plan to be successful, it will take folks at the (resource conservation districts) to spearhead the projects."
One project that Fahey views as essential, and one that has already been started in Colusa and Glenn counties, is an effort to chop back invasive weeds such as Arundo.
"I did some outreach with invasive weeds, and we signed a contract with the county ... and (the Board of Supervisors) told us to work with our Ag Department on invasive weeds," Fahey said. "And I would like to see invasive weeds projects done in Colusa County, and the longer you wait, the more expensive it will be."
In Glenn County, the resource district pays teens go out an eradicate some of the weeds. Additionally, the watershed is being mapped for the areas most impacted by the weeds.