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Home Where We Work Colorado River Delta Legacy Program Colorado River Delta Restoration

Colorado River Delta Restoration

nurseryThe once free and mighty Colorado River collected silt along its path, creating the two million-acre Colorado River Delta before disappearing into the Gulf of California. Plants, fish, animals and native peoples flourished there. Today, the Delta has shrunk by more than 90% due to dams and diversions upstream, sustained only by a trickle from agricultural return flows, effluent, and canal seepage. The river itself rarely reaches the Gulf of California.

Preliminary research shows that relatively modest flows of freshwater and appropriately managed brackish water could stimulate ecological recovery in the Delta. This potential for restoration spurred the Sonoran Institute and its partners to set an ambitious goal of doubling the Delta's existing wetlands by protecting and restoring more than 160,000 acres over the next 20 years. In the next 10 years, we will develop several areas of healthy terrestrial and aquatic habitat by planting native trees and securing an instream flow of at least 25,000 acre-feet. Each year we will enhance approximately 100 acres of riparian habitat and 100 acres of marsh wetlands to create two ecologically functional demonstration sites by the year 2017: the Colorado River Restoration Demonstration Site (4,400 acres), which includes the Laguna Grande and Laguna Roja sites, and the Lower Hardy River Demonstration Site (4,500 acres), which includes the Hardy River Ecological Camp and Las Arenitas Wetland. In order to achieve conservation on this scale, the Sonoran Institute is working with U.S. and Mexican governmental and nongovernmental organizations, local communities, indigenous tribes, schools, and universities.

A success on many levels, our on-the-ground restoration projects promote local understanding of restoration in the Delta through capacity-building and active community participation—essential to building the broad constituency needed to advocate for policy reform in support of restoration and vital to ensuring a sustainable future for restoration efforts.

Restoration Projects:

Riparian:

Hardy River Ecological Camp…coming soon

Colorado River Restoration Demonstration Site  

Marsh/Wetland:

Las Arenitas Wetland