Photo courtesy of TNC LA/Ventura Project
Promoting Multi-benefit Floodplain Conservation Strategies Along the Lower Santa Clara River Through the Prioritization of Agricultural Conservation Easements
The objective of this project is to prevent the need for additional flood control structures along the Santa Clara River in Ventura County, California. The Santa Clara is one of the last major river systems in Southern California that remains in a relatively natural state. The Nature Conservancy (TNC), who is leading the Natural Floodplain Protection Program (NFPP) along the Santa Clara River, has acquired funding to purchase agricultural conservation easements within the 500-year floodplain to preserve flood control benefits. This project seeks to prioritize parcels for easement acquisition outside of developed areas and within the floodplain. A multi-criteria analysis was developed that incorporates predictions of future structural flood control needs and downstream flood reduction benefits on a parcel-based scale. Two models were used to predict the locations of future development that would necessitate structural flood control. Downstream flood reduction benefits were analyzed using a 2-dimensional hydrological flood model. Additionally, the project outlined several methodologies to estimate the price of agricultural conservation easements in the study region. The results of the development and hydrological analysis were combined to produce parcels organized by ranked tiers. These results are presented in a report of recommendations and are included in a decision guidance tool that includes additional relevant agricultural and ecological information. The ultimate objective of the project is to provide easement acquisition recommendations to TNC and facilitate future acquisition decisions that best achieve the goals of the NFPP through the use of the decision guidance tool.
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The Santa Clara River Group Project Team gratefully acknowledges the support of the ACE Group