2022 Annual Report


California’s climate resilience is critical, and we’re grateful for your generosity and steadfast support as we build a more sustainable water future for our state.

In an increasingly polarized public sphere we’re still here, working together to craft lasting solutions to our most pressing environmental problems. We are honored you shared your time, values and financial support with us to work for real change.

Check In & Connect

A triptych of three webinar promotion graphics from Sustainable Conservation's Resilience through Restoration webinar series

Thanks to you, we continued our popular webinars with two series, Climate Resilience from the Ground Up and Resilience through Restoration. We’re so grateful to come together to explore what California can do to boost our climate resilience and how we can accelerate the pace and scale of badly needed restoration together. Thanks also to our generous 2022 webinar series sponsors Environmental Science Associates, The Foster, Holland & Knight, Iron Horse Vineyards, and Spottswoode Estate Vineyard and Winery for supporting our online gatherings.

Your generous, increased support helped us meet three matching gift challenges from the Emmet Family foundation and two generous individuals: John Dawson and Michael Spiegelman.

Photo: Doug and his daughter Jennifer Beretta, 2022 Leopold Conservation Award recipients, Paolo Vescia for Sustainable Conservation

We honored more dedicated California land stewards this year with the Leopold Conservation Award, and celebrated two amazing finalists in their efforts to leave the land better than they found it for future generations. 

And, thanks to you, we were able welcome new team members to Sustainable Conservation and share your stories! You shared your environmental journeys with our community and illuminated why Sustainable Conservation’s values align with your own. You are all are a beautiful reminder of our individual and collective power to be environmental champions.

Replenishing Aquifers

Almond trees are flooded with water during a groundwater recharge event.

Thanks to you, we capitalized on our watershed moment after a decade of groundwater recharge work to chart a path for our joint effort to expand our Merced River Watershed study to four additional watersheds in the San Joaquin Valley.

With the Department of Water Resources, we connected their snowpack and runoff climate scenarios with our Groundwater Recharge Assessment Tool to learn where we can direct water across the landscape during heavy rain and flood events.

The study found that with no changes to current infrastructure, the Merced watershed could reduce groundwater overdraft by 31%. We can also prioritize where to recharge to ensure reliable drinking water supplies for communities, habitat for fish and wildlife, and irrigation for farming. And, we’re working with local water agencies, communities, farmers, and environmental groups to implement the findings on the ground.

Your generosity helped us transform our partnerships and vision for a sustainable California water future, and we’re excited to share our progress in 2023.

Accelerating Restoration

Thanks to you, we celebrated dual milestones in our award-winning Accelerating Restoration program. We worked with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the State Water Resources Control Board on large and small aquatic habitat restoration projects for all of California.

The power of these permits is enormous, and we look forward to continuing this vital work with more partnerships, comprehensive outreach for restoration proponents, and systemic change to restore our state.

What does this all mean? More restoration, at scale, more quickly in California – thanks to your longtime support.

From county-by-county efforts to multi-agency statewide permits, our work has grown tremendously in three decades. Hundreds of organizations and landowners have used the permits we’ve helped put in place to restore miles of critical riparian habitat, revitalize our rivers, protect iconic species, and reconnect our surface and groundwater resources.

Thanks to you, our community, for believing in and supporting this critical work!

Solutions in our Soil

Thanks to you, we were able to keep doing what we do best: listening, learning, and collaboratively ideating to discover what role we can play in California’s soil-water nexus.

In 2022, we held two critical events as part of our Soil-Water Interface Expert Convenings: Cover Crops’ Impact on Water Budgets. Thank you to the California Department of Food and Agriculture, the National Resources Conservation Service, and the California Association of Resource Conservation Districts for co-hosting.

Soils can be a critical component of drought-resilient agriculture, and a key part of our toolbox to combat climate change.

Planting cover crops. applying compost, and low-impact tillage can enhance soil’s ability to capture and store water, retain nutrients, and maintain or even increase organic matter. This organic matter supports an active and biologically diverse microbial environment, and helps store carbon.

Healthier soils also have a host of other benefits, like improving the nutrient density of the food we eat, helping farms reduce their impacts on water quality and water supply, and even improving overall community air quality.

We’re thrilled to launch our official soil health program in 2023 thanks to your steady partnership, and we look forward to celebrating together!

Circular Economies

Thanks to you, we’ve developed, tested and expanded our award-winning, innovative manure drip irrigation system (SDI) across California – and saved 1.3 billion gallons of water per year!

Because of your continued investment, the system we built in 2016 with our partners is now active on 3,582 acres in California, with a further 3,000 acres in process, and over 1,600 acres in three states in the Midwest.

With the system, dairy producers can utilize their herds’ manure to grow winter and summer feed crops in ways that protect groundwater quality, reduce the need for synthetic fertilizer, and use less water from our severely depleted aquifers.

We’ve also worked hard to ensure cost-share funding for the system so dairies of all sizes and budgets can invest in this incredible technology and be part of the solution for California water sustainability.

This effort would not be possible without years of patient, cross-sector collaboration – all enabled by your support.

THANK YOU to our donors, project partners, Board, Advisory Board, and San Joaquin Valley Regional Committee. We would not be able to do this work without you.