SFEI partnered with the Napa County Resource Conservation District and the Napa County Farm Bureau to develop a watershed-based framework for addressing agricultural management challenges related to improving the health of the Napa River ecosystem. In particular, the project sought to identify possible adaptive management measures that could allow the State Water Board to declare the Napa River unimpaired under section 303(d) of the US Clean Water Act.
This project, funded through a Proposition 40 Agricultural Water Quality Program Grant awarded by the State Water Resources Control Board, used a watershed-based approach to develop a landscape profile of the Napa watershed. The project report is Napa River Watershed Profile: Past and Present Characteristics with Implications for Future Management of the Changing Napa River Valley. This report integrates historical ecology analysis with documentation of changes in the land use, the river’s hydrology, and its geomorphology.
Our intent was to use this exploration of the past to frame consideration management alternatives for the future. The information from this study was intended to:
- Fill information gaps that currently prevent evaluation of alternative restoration and management alternatives required for removal of the Napa River from the 303(d) list of waters impaired by sediment
- Utilize existing partnerships in the Napa River watershed to promote technical transfer and monitoring guidance to landowners in prioritized reaches of the Napa River and major tributaries and to assist in the preparation of implementation plans.
- Compare and contrast the historical and current aquatic habitat mosaics of the Napa River ecosystem, with a focus on the Napa River and its tributaries within the Napa Valley
- Identify how land use changes have contributed to current undesirable conditions in the ecosystem
- Describe relationship between agricultural land use practices and the major attributes of a highly functioning, healthy river ecosystem
- Identify management approaches or practices that could help improve the health of the river ecosystem
- Increase understanding within the agricultural community of the Napa River Watershed about the relationships between past and present land use and river health
Related Projects, News, and Events:
The Napa Valley Historical Ecology Atlas takes readers on a richly illustrated tour of the iconic Napa Valley landscape from 200 years ago to the present and future.
Using the pioneering SFEI Historical Ecology approach, the Atlas challenges many preconceived notions about the nature of California landscapes, and suggests strategies to increase the health and resilience of local watersheds based on an understanding of how natural systems function. The Atlas is designed to support a broad range of local efforts for ecological restoration and watershed stewardship in Napa Valley, while providing a new and accessible model for historical ecology studies in other regions.