Resilience Matters: Opportunities for Action to Strengthen Communities

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34 • section ii: Climate Adaptation

Trust is focused on replenishing groundwater in basins designed to create habitat for migratory water birds and restoring habitat for imperiled upland species on formerly irrigated lands. These projects will increase local water supplies, while managing formerly irrigated lands in ways that improve air and water quality. We can think of these practices as “rewilding” our agricultural landscapes by restoring habitat and ecosystem function where it’s been lost. The latest science suggests that rewilding can reduce the economic impacts of idled farmland by bringing financial resources for projects that benefit water supplies. Importantly, these efforts help guarantee the long-term sustainability of remaining farms and the communities they support. Some water users may say that we should delay implementing groundwater sustainability plans until after drought has passed, arguing that those hit hardest by water shortages can’t afford to reduce water use any further during drought years. In fact, we can’t afford not to act now. During our last drought, the Public Policy Institute of California estimated that 2,300 groundwater wells in the San Joaquin Valley went dry, leaving many homes without drinking water. Without a new plan, our people, farms and wildlife will continue to suffer. A key component of implementing nature-based solutions is planning and coordination, and we can’t start soon enough. We need to be proactive in developing solutions that work in drought years like this one, as well as in a hotter, drier future. And we need public agencies to support planning and implementation when and where stakeholders are ready to take action. Nature-based solutions like wildlife-friendly recharge and restored habitat on retired farmlands are options that offer hope right now. They also lead us to a future in which the Central Valley not only produces the food we eat, but an abundance of other values as well—improved public health, recreational space, habitat for wildlife, and creating naturebased solutions now will put us on a path to achieve these benefits and strike a new balance for both people and nature.