3 Amigos and Dos Rios Ranch: Restoring Floodplain Habitats and Recovering Endangered Species

The Dos Rios Ranch and Hidden Valley properties served as dairy and farming operations until they were purchased for restoration by a public-private partnership. The 2,000-acres of contiguous floodplain property is being restored to become a keystone piece of a 10,000-acre non-structural flood control effort referred to as the “3 Amigos Non-Structural Flood Control Project.” Jointly with the San Joaquin River National Wildlife Refuge, Dos Rios Ranch will provide undeveloped floodplain access for the San Joaquin and Tuolumne Rivers during times of high water, and short-term floodwater storage opportunities that can reduce flood peaks in the City of Stockton and other down-river properties.

The project is located where the Tuolumne and San Joaquin Rivers come together. The properties encompass both sides of the San Joaquin River for over five miles and one side of the Tuolumne River for three miles, as well as one side of the Stanislaus River for three miles. The land provides essential habitat for migrating birds along the Pacific Flyway and for fifteen animal species that are listed as endangered, threatened, or species of concern on California State and/or Federal registries including VELB, Least Bell’s vireo, Swainson’s Hawk, Yellow Warbler, riparian brush rabbit and riparian woodrat.

Restoration efforts will include modifying federal levees to reconnect the river with more than 3,000 acres of floodplain. Innovative design features also include high-water flood refugia for wildlife, mosaics of native plant species to provide habitat for diverse species, expansion and connection of remnant riparian vegetation, and fish screens for water diversion infrastructure. Additional projected benefits include improved water quality, increased water supplies, and enhanced recreational opportunities. Restored habitat also reduces pressure on agricultural operations by helping to recover imperiled species and reducing local demand for water by retiring up to 20,000 acre-feet of riparian water diversions annually.

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Multiple Benefits Delivered

  • Enhancing public safety.
  • Reducing costly flood damage.
  • Protecting fish and wildlife.
  • Protecting working farms and ranches.
  • Providing recreational opportunities.
  • Addressing public health concerns.
  • Improving water quality.
  • Contributing to water supply reliability.
  • Reducing costs by moving beyond mitigation.
  • Preparing for extreme weather events and climate change.

Project Partners

  • American Rivers
  • California Conservation Corps
  • California State Department of Water Resources
  • California River Parkways Program
  • Central Valley Flood Protection Board
  • Ducks Unlimited
  • National Resources Defense Council
  • Natural Heritage Institute
  • The River Islands Fund
  • River Partners
  • San Francisco Public Utilities Commission
  • San Joaquin Regional Conservation Corps
  • Tuolumne River Trust
  • US Army Corps of Engineers
  • US Bureau of Reclamation
  • USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service
  • US Fish and Wildlife Service