What We Make Possible Together

Sustainable Conservation

Despite the many curveballs of 2021, we’ve shared a year of hard-won progress toward thriving California communities, farms, and wildlife. From the water pumped up from our aquifers that sustains us during droughts, to the families who grow the food we eat, and the habitat that nourishes our plant and animal neighbors – our health depends on so much that is interconnected. Thank you for understanding this, joining us, and celebrating the milestones that are even sweeter for being achieved in a time of hopelessness for so many.

Our collective momentum depends on a diversity of perspectives and efforts – including partnerships, practices, and policies – to build resilience for California. Thank you for taking action with us for the enduring benefit of nature and people.

The Habitat Restoration and Enhancement Act


Chinook salmon

With your help, Sustainable Conservation continues to make progress in accelerating habitat restoration to save fish and wildlife from extinction, build climate resilience with natural infrastructure, and grow our green economy.

Last year, we celebrated the 5-year anniversary of the Habitat and Restoration Enhancement Act (HREA). This year, we’re thrilled to announce that Governor Newsom signed Senate Bill 716 (McGuire) to extend the Act until 2027!

Sponsored by Sustainable Conservation and administered by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), HREA provides a novel approach to permitting small-scale (up to 5 acres), environmentally beneficial habitat restoration projects in California. HREA, originally sponsored by Sustainable Conservation in 2014, created an expedited 30-to-60-day approval process – and put these projects on a separate permitting track from development projects.

This track enables better collaboration between agencies and applicants to meet common restoration goals, including positioning California to better meet the time-sensitive challenges of habitat loss, species decline, and our warming climate. HREA is also coordinated with another key agency process at California’s Regional Water Boards.

Check out our blog coverage of these three amazing HREA projects on Rancheria Creek, French Creek, and Dennet Dam.
This means restorationists who want to revitalize streams, remove barriers to fish passage, restore wetlands, or replenish natural water supplies can partner with CDFW to get their projects approved more quickly and efficiently – without sacrificing any environmental protections. More of the project funding can go toward construction, and agency staffers can save administrative time so they can provide more technical assistance to applicants.

The successful passage of this bill speaks to the great restoration work completed because of HREA (over 100 projects and counting), and the commitment of the Governor’s Administration to the value of streamlining permits for environmentally beneficial projects.

HREA is one part of the overall strategy memorialized in the California Natural Resources Agency’s Cutting Green Tape Initiative, focused on improving interagency coordination, partnerships, and agency processes and policies to allow ecological restoration and stewardship to occur more quickly, simply, and cost-effectively.

We thank CDFW for their partnership with Sustainable Conservation and project proponents to help create an efficient pathway to permit these important restoration projects in California. And, we applaud Senator McGuire for his leadership in carrying this important legislation. We look forward to working with our legislative partners next year to keep the momentum going to enable projects that ensure a sustainable future for California’s natural resources.

Our Accelerating Restoration team is laser-focused on partnering with the State Water Board and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to complete statewide programmatic permits for restoration. We expect these two landmark permits to be formally issued in the summer of 2022. Restoration practitioners are eagerly awaiting these expedited pathways and already have projects in the works that plan to use them.
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Feeding the Future & Water in a Warming World


2021 Webinar Series

A resounding THANK YOU to everyone who joined us for our double-header webinar series in 2021. We’re grateful to all our amazing panelists, staff members, and audience members who contributed to our deep dives into various aspects of our food and water systems amid a changing climate. We’re honored to unite and shed light on the wide-ranging network of amazing people committed to solving California’s complex environmental challenges.

If you didn’t get a chance to tune in, or if you want to take a closer look at a particular subject area, we’ve got a one-stop-shop video round-up for you below. Click, watch, learn, share with friends, and don’t hesitate to Tweet your questions at us.

Feeding the Future

Water in a Warming World

Generously sponsored by Iron Horse Vineyards and Spottswoode Estate Vineyard and Winery

Replinish aquifers
Growing Our Team



This year, we grew our team to advance our collaborative stewardship of California’s land, air, and water for the benefit of nature and people. Meet the folks who joined Sustainable Conservation’s staff in 2021:

Sarah Castle

Sarah Castle Sarah joins us as our Senior Research Analyst with more than 10 years of experience as a soil scientist working to understand land use and climate change impacts on soils. Sarah works with our Waste Not and Water for the Future teams, initially focusing on three key efforts: prioritizing where to target adoption of dairy drip irrigation systems to maximize benefit to drinking water, identifying pathways for exporting excess manure, and evaluating opportunities for using soil health practices to generate water and climate benefits.

Charles Delgado

Charles Delgado Following a decade as Assistant Legislative Director with the State Water Resources Control Board, Charles joins us as Policy Director to work with government agencies, legislative bodies, and stakeholders to represent the organization. Charles coordinates with public agency, NGO, and private sector partners to ensure that priorities identified by Sustainable Conservation are part of the implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, CV Salts, the Irrigated Lands Regulatory Programs, and other policies.

Elliot Grant

Elliot Grant Sustainable Conservation hired Elliot as a full-time Program Associate after his stint with us as a GrizzlyCorps fellow. GrizzlyCorps is a new AmeriCorps program run out of UC Berkeley that focuses on sustainable agriculture and forestry. Elliot, a recent graduate of UC Santa Cruz and former farm hand at Route One Farms, joins the part of our team hatching our foray into the complex and promising field of soil health.

Rogell Rogers

Rogell Rogers Rogell joins Sustainable Conservation as our staff Agronomist. Rogell brings extensive experience in agronomy and production management in partnership with Central Valley farmers, and most recently held an agronomist position with A&L Western Laboratories in Modesto. Two key projects for Rogell will be completing our on-farm recharge manual, complete with field data analysis, for water managers and industry groups, and working with growers at six new recharge monitoring and demonstration sites funded by the Department of Water Resources.

If we’re able to safely gather beyond the screen, we look forward to introducing you to our new team members in the field and in person next year!
Securing Our Water Future


A decade of Recharge

In 2021, we’re celebrating 10 years of Sustainable Conservation guiding groundwater recharge in the field and at the state level. Groundwater is critical to the health of our communities, farms, and wildlife habitat. This subterranean resource also makes up a whopping 2/3 of our water supply in drought years. Capturing water when it is available during big storm events and storing it in our vast underground aquifers is a critical climate adaptation strategy for California.

Over 1 million Californians don’t have secure access to water. Research indicates that groundwater recharge has the potential to offset up to 25% of California’s average annual overdraft in the San Joaquin Valley. Sustainable Conservation is proud to be a driving force behind this big slice of the solutions pie for California’s water future.

For over a decade, Sustainable Conservation has worked with farmers, water districts, policymakers, scientists, and community members to test, site, and plan recharge – in individual farm fields, and in entire watersheds. We’ve built partnerships with recharge pioneers like Don Cameron, Brian Davis, and Mark McKean who helped spread the word to their peers about this technique to shore up a more reliable water supply for California.

On a larger scale, we’ve worked with water districts to build dedicated recharge basins and implement district-wide recharge programs, and we’re expanding our field work to four more counties.

We didn’t stop with on-the-ground projects, though. We also built a first-of-its-kind groundwater recharge planning tool (GRAT) to help water managers learn where, when, and how to use recharge in regions suffering the most from depleted aquifers. We worked with the state to ensure recharge gets done right so it can also benefit ecosystem health and community safety. And, we developed key water quality guidance so growers can replenish our underground bank account and protect drinking water quality for the 600,000+ people who rely on contaminated groundwater in their domestic wells. Early next year, our team will offer our guidance resources in Spanish, and partner with environmental justice and community groups to get this information into the right hands for the biggest impact.

To every partner, supporter, colleague, and water champion who’s walked this path with us: thank you. We can’t do it without you, and we’re so excited for the work ahead.

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The Future Is in Your Hands


Feeding the Future Panelists

Join our community of donors and fellow problem solvers. As a member of the California Conservationists, you are part of our community and share in our vision of bringing people together to solve California’s most pressing environmental challenges.

You’ll be in good company; hear more from three of our Board members about why they give:

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Dan Dooley
My family farmed their entire life, so I’m a San Joaquin Valley farmer at heart. Our family values have always been rooted in natural systems and I’m invested in both Sustainable Conservation’s approach and work because this provides hope that my grandkids and their grandkids will be able to enjoy California’s unrivaled resources just as I did. We all want to ensure that recharge does not deteriorate water quality, particularly communities’ drinking water supplies, and ideally helps improve water quality for everyone. It’s never felt more important to support Sustainable Conservation’s work than it feels today.”

- Dan Dooley

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Ginger and Dan Oros with children
We trust and support Sustainable Conservation because we share their values and want to do what we can to ensure our children will enjoy a thriving, productive California for many years to come. That is why our family has chosen to double our support this year – and we hope you will consider doing the same.”

- Ginger and Dan Oros

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Adán Ortega
Sustainable Conservation is a true environmentalist’s environmental group. We prove concepts, validate strategies, and bring people together in ways that might seem otherwise impossible to drive lasting change in California. I increased my support in 2021 to empower critical efforts like developing water quality guidance so farmers can practice recharge to protect our drinking water, and building out tools to help water managers plan and site recharge projects where they’ll be most effective when water is available.”

- Adán Ortega