Making Big Ideas Work

In 2015, you fueled a transformational moment in Sustainable Conservation’s history. By helping us reach the financial goal of our first-ever capital campaign to scale up our programs and magnify our impact, you invested in enduring, common-ground solutions for our Golden State.

The name of our campaign – Making Big Ideas Work – perfectly reflects the essence of Sustainable Conservation’s guiding principles, and those of our community: think big; be bold in taking on the toughest challenges facing California’s air, land, and water; and build trust with a wide variety of partners.

Your campaign support from 2013 to 2015 leverages conservation progress through 2017. Together, we brought the following advances to life:

Ribbon cutting photo

Our first-of-its-kind alliance with fellow conservation and industry leaders unveils our 52-acre groundwater recharge basin in the heart of California’s San Joaquin Valley – the world’s most productive farming region that has been hit extremely hard by the lingering drought. In future wet years, floodwater from the nearby Kings River will be redirected to the basin where it will then percolate down through the soil and raise water levels in the aquifer below.

Southern California steelhead

The highly endangered Southern California steelhead receives a big boost – thanks in part to Sustainable Conservation and a new ruling from the California Coastal Commission to speed the implementation of voluntary habitat restoration projects. Thanks to a similar Commission decision in 2013, two regional programs now team up to benefit the entire California coastal zone.

Retired plant

Sustainable Conservation’s PlantRight campaign retires its 15th plant from our dynamic list of invasive garden plants. Retiring a plant means it’s being sold at less than 1% of the stores we survey annually – and that, together, our outreach to stop the sale of invasive plants in California continues to make progress.

Lowes and PlantRight logos

Lowe’s signs on as PlantRight’s newest retail nursery partner – pledging to stop selling environmentally damaging invasive plants from our list in their California stores. As 70% of plants in gardens come from “big box” outlets, leadership by these franchises makes a huge impact.

Flood water on active cropland

Our on-the-ground outreach unleashes a torrent of interest from farmers keen to receive flood flows on active cropland, and, in turn, help replenish our state’s depleted groundwater stores. We’re thrilled to select demonstration partners from over 20 farmers offering 131 sites on nearly 15,000 acres growing at least 11 different crops.


Peer-reviewed scientific journal PLOS ONE publishes PlantRight’s Plant Risk Evaluation (PRE) tool for assessing the invasive potential of ornamental plants. With 95% accuracy in predicting invasive behavior, the screening process equips growers and distributors with powerful knowledge to prevent new plant invasions.

Almond tree closeup

Sustainable Conservation, the Almond Board of California, and UC Davis launch a new partnership to explore the potential of California's one million acres of almond orchards for groundwater recharge. The bold coalition will work toward a sustainable water future for our Golden State.

Groundwater savings account

A California Water Foundation study, completed with our help, shows that on-farm groundwater recharge offers the most economical way to replenish up to 1/3 of the annual overdraft in critical areas of the San Joaquin Valley. This hopeful statistic corroborates our efforts to promote the practice – and build a much-needed groundwater “savings account” for future droughts.

Capitol building

Governor Jerry Brown signs the Habitat Restoration and Enhancement Act into law. Sponsored by Sustainable Conservation, the Act simplifies the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s permitting process – thereby expediting restoration projects on public and private lands to improve water quality and help imperiled wildlife statewide.

Drip irrigation

Our pilot project kicks off with De Jager Farms in Madera County to test the viability of fertilizing with liquid manure through drip irrigation – instead of flood irrigation– on dairies. Promising results will help spread the word about this innovative practice to address critical water quality and supply issues in the Central Valley.

Simplied Permitting

Thanks in part to Sustainable Conservation, a California Coastal Commission decision hastens help for troubled waterways and struggling fish populations. The Commission’s unanimous approval of a regional program simplifies permitting for restoration projects along California’s coastal zone from the Oregon border through San Luis Obispo County.


Introduce, with our Resource Conservation District partner, water efficiency performance metrics to Pajaro Valley strawberry farms that will achieve nearly 30% water savings among participating growers in just two years.

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