To minimize risk of flooding to landowners along the Salinas River and improve riparian habitat for wildlife, the Salinas River Stream Maintenance Program (SMP) was developed as a collaboration between Monterey County Water Resources Agency, the Salinas River Channel Coalition (landowners), the Grower Shipper Association of Central California, The Nature Conservancy, Conservation Collaborative, the RCDMC, and other local entities and contractors. The SMP employs a multi-benefit approach for stream maintenance that enhances conveyance capacity of the river corridor by mimicking the sandy-bottomed river’s natural, braided form in a manner that protects fish and wildlife habitat values of the river channel. A key approach of the SMP involves clearing vegetation (often invasive weeds like Arundo) to open and maintain secondary channels on the river floodplain that could convey storm flows when the river low-flow channel is overwhelmed, reducing the risk of flooding onto adjacent farmlands. In 2014, a Demonstration Project was initiated on two stretches of river near Chualar and Gonzales (south of the City of Salinas) comprising a total of 11.5 river miles. The SMP will expand to include much of the river over the next ten years. Participation in the program is voluntary, and the work is funded by the participants (typically landowners, growers, and municipalities).
The RCD’s role in this program is to provide permit-support to participating landowners by carrying the Streambed Alteration Agreement permit for the program and through mapping and monitoring stream maintenance activities in cooperation with MCWRA and participating landowners. More information about the Salinas River Stream Maintenance Program can be found on the Monterey County Water Resources Agency SMP project webpage.