June 2021 San Joaquin River Restoration Program Update
The word "restoration" means different things to different people. For some, it implies replanting streamside forest, (also known as riparian habitat), removing invasive weeds, or cleaning up the bed and banks of the river; for others, restoration means additional water in the river for fish like salmon and steelhead trout. Whatever your definition of restoration, the River Parkway Trust has an opportunity for you to get involved and contribute to the health of the San Joaquin River.
Jensen River Ranch
The Jensen River Ranch Habitat Enhancement is our largest restoration project to date. In partnership with the San Joaquin River Conservancy, City of Fresno, and California Department of Water Resources, the Trust replanted 167 acres with native trees, shrubs, and grasses. The project is now complete. You can read documents related to the Jensen River Ranch Habitat Enhancement - from the conceptual plan to the final report - by downloading the pdfs below. Please note that we have broken the larger planning documents into individual chapters for easier download.
Spano River Ranch
Our latest revegetation project is taking place around the H-shaped pond at Spano River Ranch. You can read more about the project by downloading the documents below, and by signing up to help with planting during one of our upcoming volunteer days.
Why is restoration important?
Our stretch of the San Joaquin is home to a wide variety of wildlife, and provides a stopping place or travel corridor for many others including bald eagles, mule deer, valley elderberry longhorn beetles, coyotes, foxes, beavers, muskrat, and many types of waterfowl. With the help of a host of volunteers and partner organizations, the River Parkway Trust Land & Trails Program strives to improve missing and damaged areas of this valuable ecosystem.
What kind of restoration activities are taking place?
The River Parkway Trust is involved in habitat restoration work on several different Parkway properties. These projects usually involve re-contouring the land to diversify plant communities, then planting and maintaining the site for several years.
The larger San Joaquin River Restoration Program involves releasing more water down the river channel to recreate a salmon fishery; and carefully managing water supply in order to continue providing irrigation water to farmers. The River Parkway Trust is not one of the signatories to the restoration program agreement, but works closely with all of the agencies and organizations involved in the restoration effort. We expect to participate in the channel restoration projects that take place in the Parkway reach of the San Joaquin River - from Friant Dam to Highway 145. For more information about the San Joaquin River Restoration Program, please visit the program website at www.restoresjr.com.
Whether you are looking to ride your bike, walk, jog, ride your horse, or just escape into nature, there is a beautiful place to do all of these activities on the Parkway Trail Network. When complete, this system will consist of the Lewis S. Eaton Trail, a 22-mile paved path spanning the length of the Parkway, and a series of loop trails that provide public access into the heart of this conservation area. Currently, the following trails are in place and accessible to the public:
Lewis S. Eaton Trail System
The Lewis S. Eaton Trail is the mainstem trail of the parkway, and will eventually run from Friant Dam to Highway 99. Currently, six (6) miles of the trail are complete and provide a beautiful overlook of the river bottom. Access to the trail is provided in several ways:
Vehicles (including horse trailers): Trailhead parking is provided within Woodward Park for a day use fee. Parking is also available free of charge at the Coke Hallowell Center for River Studies on Old Friant Road.
Bikes: Access points along Friant Road are at the intersections of Audubon, Fort Washington, Champlain and Copper.
Bus: Route #30 (equipped with bike racks) stops at the trailhead at Friant Road and Audubon.
Facilities: Drinking fountains are located at the River Overlook inside Woodward Park, and two miles north on the trail. Vault Restrooms are located at Woodward Park, and on the trail between Rice Road and Old Friant Road. Flush restrooms are located at the Coke Hallowell Center for River Studies.
Riverside Segment, Lewis S. Eaton Trail
This short segment of the Lewis S. Eaton Trail is accessible from the Riverside Golf Course Parking lot. The trail dives into the river bottom down a steep, paved pathway; at the end of the paved trail visitors can wander down to a sandy beach at the river's edge. The next segment of this trail will link it with the neighborhood just east of the railroad crossing. This trail is not currently accessible to horses.
Thomas MacMichael Sr. Loop Trail
This trail ventures off the Lewis S. Eaton Trail onto Jensen River Ranch below Woodward Park. The trail meanders down to the banks of the river and is accessible via the Lewis S. Eaton Trail on the north side of Woodward Park.
Lost Lake Park Nature Trail
Wandering along the banks of the river, this trail takes you on a walk through the more natural areas of the park. Keep an eye out for impressive mortar stones near the river, used long ago by native americans for grinding acorn. Lost Lake Entrance Fee: $5 per vehicle.
Conserving land with the River Parkway Trust
The San Joaquin River Parkway and Conservation Trust has worked with 18 conservation-minded landowners along the river corridor to protect 2,864 acres of wildlife habitat, river access, recreation lands, historic or education sites, scenic vistas, and working farms and ranches. Some land transactions can be complex and the River Parkway Trust has partnered with many public agencies as well as other non-profit organizations to collaboratively plan and fund large projects. Some of our partners have included the San Joaquin River Conservancy, California Wildlife Conservation Board, The Trust for Public Land, Sierra Foothill Conservancy, American Farmland Trust, Resources Legacy Fund and the David and Lucille Packard Foundation.
We work with landowners that have expressed an interest in selling or donating their land for conservation purposes. In the early planning process of a transaction, we sit down with the landowner and their tax and legal advisors to structure a transaction best suited for protecting the property and meeting the financial needs of the landowner.
A conservation easement is a voluntary and legal land protection agreement between a landowner and a land trust that protects the natural, scenic, agricultural or historic integrity of the land. For example, by donating or selling an agricultural conservation easement to a land trust, landowners enter into an agreement that limits the uses of their land to farming and ranching activities while retaining ownership of the land and the right to continue farming and ranching as they always have. Again, the River Parkway Trust works with the landowner and their tax and legal advisors to structure the conservation easement.
An Accredited Land Trust
The San Joaquin River Parkway and Conservation Trust has achieved land trust accreditation from the Land Trust Accreditation Commission (www.landtrustaccreditation.org). The Land Trust Accreditation Commission, based in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., awards the accreditation seal to community institutions that meet national quality standards for protecting important natural places and working lands forever.
Member of the Land Trust Alliance (www.lta.org) and California Council of Land Trusts (www.calandtrusts.org)
The River Parkway Trust is a member, of the Land Trust Alliance, a national conservation group of land trusts that works to save the places people love by strengthening conservation throughout America. The River Parkway Trust It also a member of the California Council of Land Trusts. The National and California support organizations provide ongoing training, program services, and information to land trusts and landowners in order to increase the pace and quality of conservation.
For more information about conserving land with the River Parkway Trust, please contact Executive Director Sharon Weaver.
Sumner Peck Ranch
The River Parkway Trust acquired Sumner Peck Ranch in December 2020. The 76-acre property is located in Fresno County just south of Friant on the San Joaquin River, and contiguous with Ball Ranch, Ledger Island, and the Willow Unit of the San Joaquin River Ecological Reserve. The property includes a half-mile of river frontage and wildlife habitat in addition to farmland. Click here for more information about Sumner Peck Ranch.
The address to Sumner Peck Ranch is 14439 N Friant Rd, Friant, CA 93626.
Click here to view a 2.5-minute video featuring aerial footage of the property.
The Trust started operating Sycamore Island in 2013 under a 5-year agreement with the San Joaquin River Conservancy. We have an entire page dedicated to fishing at Sycamore Island. You can also buy park passes online, or follow us on Facebook.
Not a fisherman? Sycamore Island is still a great place to visit! Sycamore island has three access points to the river for canoeing and kayaking, and has several miles of dirt roads that provide an excellent surface for trail running or walking, and horse riding. There are three covered picnic shelters on the 350-acre property, and a bait shop that sells snacks and beverages. Check it out and let us know what else you would like to see at the site!
Canoes and Kayaks are available to rent on site on a first come first served basis. Canoes and Kayaks can be used in the ponds that are not connected to the river. Rentals fees are $20 for the first hour including a day-pass to the site, and $10 for each additional hour. The maximum/all-day rental fee is $50. Rentals are processed in the Bait Shop.
You can find a Google map of the site here: https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid=zmETwMqImBSE.kZP-fWYh0p38.
This beautiful park is operated by the City of Fresno and offers many amenities, including restrooms, picnic sites with barbecues, several ponds and streams, the Shin Zen Friendship Garden, 3 playgrounds, and access to the Lewis S. Eaton Trail and Jensen River Ranch. For more information, check the City's website at http://www.fresno.gov/.
Directions: Take Highway 41 north, exit right on Friant road, left on Audubon, right into park.
Hours: Open daily, 7am-10pm, April-September, Open daily, 7am-7pm, October-March
Jensen River Ranch
Below the Woodward Park bluffs lies Jensen River Ranch, a 167-acre property owned by the San Joaquin River Conservancy. The River Parkway Trust is currently working on a restoration project on the site that includes habitat restoration, a trail network, and picnic sites near the river. For now, the property is accessible to pedestrians, cyclists and equestrians from the Lewis S. Eaton Trail and through Woodward Park. River access is currently available via an interim loop trail, which runs between the two pastures, along the riverbank, and then back toward the bluffs. While you're on the loop trail, be sure to look for Mexican Elderberry bushes, host to the Threatened Valley Elderberry Longhorn Beetle.
Hours: Open Daily
Lost Lake Park
This 305-acre county park features riverfront picnic & barbecue facilities, restrooms, open wildlife habitat, boat launch, and a self-guided nature trail. Along the trail you’ll witness a variety of bird life as well as native American grinding holes in the boulders bordering the river. Straight across the river from the south end of the picnic area, you will see a tree that is home to a large flock of black-crowned night herons. Snowy egrets, Great Blue Herons and even an occasional bobcat can be spotted in the undeveloped areas of the park.
Directions: Take Highway 41 north to Friant Road. Follow Friant east 8 miles, park entrance will be on your left.
Hours: Open daily, 7am-10pm, April-September, Open daily, 7am-7pm, October-March
Wildwood Native Park
This park is owned by the San Joaquin River Conservancy and managed by the City of Fresno. Amenities include restrooms, parking and river access for boating (hand carried craft only) and fishing. For more information, you can contact the Conservancy at (559) 253-7324.
Directions: Take Hwy. 41 north, exit Rio Mesa, turn right onto frontage road, turn left on access road for Cobb's Tree Farm and Wildwood Mobile Home park, gate for Wildwood Native Park is straight ahead.
Hours: Open every Friday-Sunday and holidays, 7am-7pm
Friant Cove is a park-and-ride and fishing access point in the town of Friant. Friant Cove is owned by the San Joaquin River Conservancy and managed by California State Parks, Millerton Lake State Recreation Area. Includes a hand-carried canoe launch, fishing, picnic tables, and restroom. For information, call (559) 822-2332.
Directions: Located on the corner of Friant Expressway and Road 206
Hours: Open seven days a week