CALFED Bay-Delta Program heading
  • Governor Brown
  • John Laird, Resources Secretary
  • Joe Grindstaff, CALFED Director

Ecosystem Restoration

CALFED’s Ecosystem Restoration Program is implemented through the ERP and Watershed Program Elements and works to improve the ecological health of the Bay-Delta watershed through restoring and protecting habitats, ecosystem functions and native species. The Watershed Program Element specifically works in tandem with the Ecosystem Restoration Program Element to ensure that ecological health of the Delta is restored and that water management is improved by working with communities at the watershed level. More information about CALFED's Ecosystem Restoration Program can be found at


What is the goal of the Ecosystem Restoration Program?

The goal of the Ecosystem Restoration Program Element is to improve and increase aquatic and terrestrial habitats and improve ecological functions in the Bay-Delta to support sustainable populations of diverse and valuable plant and animal species.

The goals of the Watershed Program Element are to provide financial and technical assistance for watershed activities that help achieve the mission and objectives of CALFED, and to promote collaboration and integegration among community-based watershed efforts.


History of the Ecosystem Restoration Program.

The Ecosystem Restoration Program began three years prior to the signing of the CALFED Record of Decision in recognition of the fact that ecological systems take time to show change. In the first nine years of implementation, ERP met or exceeded nearly 80 percent of the 119 ecosystem milestones listed for Stage 1 of the CALFED ROD. This progress has been significant among Delta-related actions, but not as much so among in-Delta actions. This is due to the fact that resolution to the declining populations of Delta pelagic species is still pending as scientists refocus and renew their efforts to pinpoint an elusive cause.

The Watershed Program was established in 1998, as an aid to achieving the overarching goal of the CALFED Bay-Delta Program to restore ecological health and improve water management by working with the community at the watershed level.

What parts of the Delta are most affected by the Ecosystem Restoration Program?

Both the Ecosystem Restoration and Watershed Program Elements have focused on areas upstream from the Delta, where the greatest level of investment has taken place. These areas are showing the strongest results. Significant investments made there in fish screens, temperature control, fish passage improvements and upstream habitats have resulted in an improved outlook for salmon throughout the Central Valley. Additionally, watershed funding, training and staffing has been a strong focus, primarily upstream from the Delta. Unfortunately, efforts have been less successful at acquiring and protecting important lands in the Delta along its tributary rivers and streams. The decline of pelagic organisms, most notably Delta smelt, and the increasing proliferation of non-native, invasive species in the Delta, has made it one of the most invaded ecosystems in the world.

How does the Ecosystem Restoration Program affect residents, agriculture, industry and the environment of California?

The Ecosystem Restoration Program Element has been successfully acquiring and protecting important lands in the Delta and along its tributaries. To date, more than 130,000 acres of habitat targeted for species of import to the Delta have been enhanced, protected and restored, mostly through easements obtained by working with local land owners and communities. Protection of agricultural lands remains a high priority as well, with more than 54,000 acres protected for their significant habitat values. Efforts to date have led to a significant rebound of salmon species in the Central Valley and investments in protecting habitat have preserved lands and stream passage for migrating and/or spawning fish species.

The Watershed Program Element has awarded more than $60 million in watershed improvement grants, funded 64 statewide watershed coordinators, developed assessment criteria for nearly 30,000 square-miles of watersheds statewide and continued an ongoing effort to provide watershed education for local managers.

What progress has been made in meeting Ecosystem Restoration Program objectives?

Since its inception, ERP agencies have consolidated their vision into a single “blueprint” for ecosystem restoration. They further identified more than 600 programmatic actions and the 119 milestones throughout the Bay-Delta watershed. The blueprint has been implemented through a large number of competitive and directed grants. Details of Ecosystem Restoration Program performance are available in the Program Performance section of this website.


What benefits have been achieved for the Delta’s ecosystem and water supply reliability through the Ecosystem Restoration Program?

Benefits include significant rebounding of some species, a delisting of the Sacramento Splittail and protection of thousands of acres of habitat, including agricultural land.

What has been spent to date on the Ecosystem Restoration Program?

Details of Ecosystem Restoration Program expenditures are available in the Program Performance Projects by Objective section of this website.


What state and federal agencies are responsible for the Ecosystem Restoration Program?

Ecosystem Restoration Program Element implementing agencies are the California Department of Fish and Game, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service.

The Watershed Program Element implementing agencies are the California Resources Agency, the State Water Resources Control Board, the State Department of Fish and Game, the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

What are the most notable success stories of the Ecosystem Restoration Program since its inception?

The Narrows 2 synchronous bypass constructed on the Yuba River below Englebright Dam provides a structural remedy to eliminate flow and temperature fluctuations from emergency and maintenance shutdowns, allowing up to 3,000 cubic feet per second to flow from Englebright Lake. The CALFED Ecosystem Restoration Program contributed more than $8 million to this project. ERP also provided funding to help establish the 4,235-acre Llano Seco Ranch Conservation Easement that includes active agricultural lands and native habitats supporting native wildlife and at least six threatened and endangered species.

The Watershed Program has used its resources and expertise to conduct four Watershed Partnership Seminars throughout California to train a total of 146 graduates equipped with the skills and technology transfer network to make signfiicant improvementns in the management of key watersheds in our state, including Putah Creek, Stony Creek, the American River, the Lower Mokelumne River and its Dry Creek tributary, among others.


Who is in the contact person for this program objective?

David S. Zezulak, Ph. D
EPM I - Water Branch
Ecosystem Restoration Program
Department of Fish and Game
830 S Street
Sacramento, CA 95811-7023

John Lowrie
Watershed Program Manager
CALFED Bay-Delta Program
650 Capitol Mall, 5th Floor
Sacramento, CA  95831
(916) 445-5011
(916) 445-7297

Dan Castleberry
Field Supervisor
Ecosystem Restoration Program
Bay-Delta Fish and Wildlife Office
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
2800 Cottage Way, W-2606
Sacramento, CA 95825

Sam Ziegler
Watersheds Office
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
75 Hawthorne Street (wtr-3)
San Francisco, CA 94105
(415) 972-3472