Exploring the San Joaquin River Watershed

Exploring the San Joaquin River Watershed

Posted on June 3, 2024

Self-Help Enterprises’ Leadership Institute (LI) builds the capacity of community members and water management agencies to find rural community water supply solutions. Education is key! On May 17th, LI participants explored the San Joaquin River Watershed. The first stop of the tour was near Coyote Sno-Park to learn about a Beaver Dam Analog Project (BDA)… man-made beaver dams… that improve meadow health and water supply in one of three meadow study areas in the southern Sierra National Forest. Lunch at Camp Edison on the shores of Shaver Lake was paired with a presentation about hydroelectric power and irrigation systems that supply electricity and water to San Joaquin Valley residents. Learning about the San Joaquin River Restoration Program included informative visits to the Salmon Conservation and Research Facility and the San Joaquin River Parkway and Conservation Trust.    

The group of 30 included: 

  • Community members from Madera, Merced, Planada, Stanislaus, Coulterville, Modesto, Fresno, and Visalia.  
  • Staff from Merced County, Madera County, Madera GSA, Assemblymember Soria’s office, Water Wise, River Partners, Adobe Ranch, Lideres Campesinas, Valley Improvement Projects. 
  • Staff and students from UC Merced, a visiting professor from UNAM – University of Mexico 
  • SHE staff for training purposes. 

Together this group learned how Sierra Forest health, fire management, river and ecosystem restoration, multiple use, and coordinated management of snow melt and rain runoff supply water to the Valley. Presentations and discussions covered a wide range of environmental and water conservation topics, including hydroelectric power and water storage to support a secure water supply for drinking, agriculture, and environmental benefits. Interactive activities encouraged participants to view water sources and water management from a broad range of perspectives to broaden their understanding of the value of water to all.  

SHE Leadership Institute staff extend a huge “thank you” to UC Merced staff including Professors Tom Harmon, Safeeq Khan, and support staff for their invaluable partnership in preparing and conducting the Water Tour, to presenters at all the destination points, and to a retired Deputy/SoCal Edison employee who helped secure the perfect lunch spot.  This was truly a perfect example of collaboration among various stakeholders toward community engagement.

In Fall 2024, SHE’s Leadership Institute will address where water goes after reaching the Valley floor and the journey it takes to get to our homes, farms, and businesses. Discussions between community members and local water management agencies, activities, and a water tour along the San Joaquin Valley on the valley floor will develop working relationships toward shared solutions to increase climate change resiliency for all. Watch for updates in future SHE newsletters to learn more and get involved! 

More on the 2024 Rural Communities Water Managers Leadership Institute

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