Paradise Cut easement roadblock

Saturday, 11/25/2017, 6:00 am

The Paradise Cut Project is a multi-benefit project proposed in the South Delta between the two cities of Tracy and Lathrop that will expand flood ways just southwest of Paradise Cut to channel dangerous flood waters away from the Stockton Metropolitan area during major flood events. The project is in alignment with Proposition 1 guidelines, the governor’s California Water Action Plan, and the Delta Plan, and also presents an opportunity to create new habitats for different types of plants, fish, and wildlife, as well as new recreational venues for the public.

Some locals are supportive of the project, in part, because the allotted land will largely be used for agriculture in the absence of extreme flood conditions. The project is Proposition 1 funded, and supplemented by $2 Million each from both the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Delta Conservancy, as well as other funding sources. Near Head of Old River Fish Barrier, California Delta

John Cain, Director of Conservation for California Flood Management with American Rivers, is helping move the project along quickly, working with the Department of Water Resources, and negotiating with local land owners to purchase flood easements on the approximate 2,000 acres of land in the South Delta that will be used for the project. According to Cain, negotiations with the landowners are currently going well so far, and about 70 percent of the acreage is approaching finalization.

At the Delta Plan Interagency Implementation Committee (DPIIC) meeting this month, Cain presented the details of a particular agricultural conservation easement currently in place that is hindering the implementation of new flood easements on about half of the land proposed for the project area.

The Central Valley Farmland Trust (CVFT) holds the easement, and has been working with Cain to find a solution. The CVFT recommended that Cain put his head together with other experts to come up with a way to work around the easement, as it doesn't allow additional easements on the land that would significantly impact the protected agriculture. Cain said to the council, “It's likely that we will need some kind of extraordinary measure, like new legislation to actually make this work...I may need your help.” Flooding, California Delta

Earlier in the DPIIC meeting, Cain spoke about the recently updated Central Valley Flood Protection Plan, which goes hand in hand with the Paradise Cut Project. He said, “By being an outcome-driven plan, it's not a list of actions or list of projects, rather it's a commitment to work together collectively to invest towards a predefined set of objectives, and then measure our progress against predetermined performance criteria, and adapt accordingly.”

With all the support and funding behind this project, it will be interesting to see what new ideas develop in the coming months.