By Juliana Gonzalez
The Watershed Project has been dedicated to creating a resilient community in North Richmond through its work at the Wildcat Operational Landscape Unit. Located in the watersheds of San Pablo, Wildcat, and Rheem Creek, our team has been actively enhancing the landscape and promoting environmental sustainability in the region. Through various initiatives and projects, The Watershed Project strives to foster a resilient community that values and protects our precious watersheds.
Our Executive Director, Juliana Gonzalez, highlights some of our most recent successes in advancing climate adaptability and resiliency in North Richmond:
We have had a long list of successful projects in North Richmond, and we are particularly excited for the North Richmond Living Levee Project. The Watershed Project (TWP) has been actively working towards creating a resilient community in North Richmond. This project has been funded by the San Francisco Restoration Authority and coordinated by West County Wastewater.
The Watershed Project has played a crucial role in leading community engagement efforts for the North Richmond Living Levee Preliminary Design. In 2022, TWP conducted webinars, focus groups, and working groups to gather community input. The project consultants, Mithun/ESA/TWP, are currently working on final conceptual designs for the entire shoreline and detailed designs for a pilot horizontal levee project at the West County Wastewater facility.
In 2022, another important project was the Wildcat Creek Planning and Design of Fish Passage Structure and Adjacent Community Amenities. This project received funding from the Department of Water Resources (DWR) through a grant awarded to the Contra Costa Flood Control and Water Conservation District (CCFCD). Flowwest/Trout Unlimited/TWP served as consultants for the CCFCD and played a key role in developing the grant.
TWP has also been leading educational programs and community engagement efforts related to the community benefits plan for the project. This includes the development of a trail and potential parks or other community amenities near the fish passage project area. TWP hired Mithun to incorporate community preferences into a preliminary architectural design. Additionally, Flowwest is responsible for designing the fish passage structure and securing the necessary permits.
In 2023, The Watershed Project is implementing the Watershed Connections Project. This project encompasses the Adopt a Tree Project, the Urban Greening Action Plan for North Richmond, and bicycle-pedestrian improvements to enhance active transportation experiences. TWP will plant and install an additional 40 trees to expand the existing urban forest. The current tree canopy will be inventoried, and stories from current and past residents of the neighborhood will be captured to create a walking tour. The project also involves revitalizing safe routes to school with stencils and art along the walking corridor, installing new interpretative signs, and adding wayfinding markers along the bicycle-pedestrian corridor to highlight the local creeks, riparian corridors, and natural resources of North Richmond.
This project is also complementing the publication of the Urban Greening Action Plan for North Richmond. This plan serves as a roadmap for Contra Costa County to promote green initiatives in the North Richmond neighborhood. It includes a step-by-step guide to implementing an Adopt a Tree program, not only in this community but also in similar communities throughout the county. The plan encompasses a tree inventory methodology, an opportunities analysis, a tree species list, an outreach strategy, a permitting checklist, an installation plan, and a maintenance and operations plan.
These ongoing projects and collaborations aim to improve the resilience of the North Richmond community while incorporating community input and ensuring the protection of the local environment. If many of these initiatives are implemented in the next 10 years, North Richmond could become a true Resiliency Hotspot in the Bay area.
To further advance our regional planning efforts, the Watershed Project is thrilled to announce a new partnership with the Greenbelt Alliance to collaborate on their Resilience Hotspots initiative. Together, we will work towards building stronger and more resilient communities in these critical areas.