Metropolitan is an active participant in efforts to preserve and enhance natural habitat and to improve watershed management and restoration.
Lake Mathews Reserve
The Lake Mathews Multiple Species Reserve, established in 1995, added 2,545 acres to the existing 2,565-acre State Ecological Reserve surrounding the lake to create a 5,110-acre preservation area that is managed for native habitat types and 65 sensitive plant and animal species.
Similar to the Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve and Southwestern Riverside County Multi-Species Reserve, the Lake Mathews Reserve was created and managed through important ongoing partnerships among Metropolitan, Riverside County Habitat Conservation Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Shipley Reserve, which connects Diamond Valley Lake with Lake Skinner, is home to at least eight types of habitat and up to 16 sensitive bird, animal and plant species. Three types of habitat dominate: Riversidian Coastal Sage Scrub, non-native grasslands and chaparral. Smaller habitats include: coast live oak woodland, southern willow scrub and live oak, and cottonwood willow riparian forests.
Southwestern Riverside Reserve
Metropolitan was involved with the creation of The Southwestern Riverside County Multi-Species Reserve, established in 1992 and California's first agreement for multi-species protection. The reserve provides mitigation for impacts and protects over 30 sensitive plant and animal species. Habitats include shrub, grassland and riparian communities, and pristine groves of oak woodlands. The reserve includes 9,000 acres surrounding and connecting Diamond Valley Lake with Lake Skinner via the 2,500-acre Dr. Roy Shipley Reserve, which Metropolitan purchased as partial mitigation for Diamond Valley Lake construction. Subsequent acquisitions have resulted in a nearly 13,500-acre reserve.
Metropolitan partners with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Riverside County Regional Park and Open-Space District, and Riverside County Habitat Conservation Agency to continue management of the Multi-Species Reserve.
Santa Rosa Plateau Reserve
The Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve, established in 1991, required innovative preservation partnerships involving The Nature Conservancy, Metropolitan, Riverside County Regional Park and Open-Space District, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Preserved lands include 3,100 acres originally purchased by TNC in 1984 and 3,700 acres of additional land that was purchased in 1991, with Metropolitan's assistance as partial mitigation for construction of Diamond Valley Lake.
Orange County Central-Coastal Natural Community Conservation Plan/Habitat Conservation Plan (NCCP/HCP)
Approved in 1996, the Orange County Central-Coastal NCCP/HCP, is one of the first regional NCCP/HCPs developed in the United States. An NCCP is a State-level program that allows for projects to occur, but also requires the regional conservation of endangered species and management of natural ecosystems. An HCP is a Federal-level program that allows for projects to occur, but requires those projects to incorporate measures to compensate for adverse impacts by improving or expanding habitat for endangered species. The Orange County Central-Coastal NCCP/HCP represents a voluntary, collaborative planning effort among the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, 16 local cities and agencies, and 11 participating landowners, including Metropolitan. The Plan created 37,378 acres of preservation area covering 39 species, including six federally-listed endangered species. Habitat and species covered under the Orange County Central-Coastal NCCP/HCP include: coastal sage scrub, grasslands and riparian habitat, the coastal California gnatcatcher, the coastal cactus wren, and the orange-throated whiptail.
Lower Colorado River Multi-Species Conservation Program (LCR MSCP)
In 2005, six federal agencies including the Department of the Interior, and public and private stakeholders in Arizona, Nevada, and California, including Metropolitan, implemented the LCR MSCP. The LCR MSCP is a habitat-based plan intended to contribute to the recovery of threatened or endangered species under the federal Endangered Species Act. The plan seeks to avoid, minimize, and fully mitigate for the permitted incidental take of covered species. The LCR MSCP is designed to benefit no fewer than 26 species, and provide habitat restoration along the lower Colorado River, including over 8,100 acres of riparian, marsh, and backwater habitat for six federally-protected species and at least 20 other species that are native to the river system. The program also includes plans for the rearing and stocking of over 1.2 million fish to augment populations of endangered fish. The LCR MSCP extends over 400 miles of the lower Colorado River from Lake Mead to the southernmost border with Mexico, and includes lakes Mead, Mohave, Havasu, and the historic 100-year floodplain along the main stem of the lower Colorado River.
Dennis Underwood Conservation Area
Established in 2019, the Dennis Underwood Conservation Area is the latest addition to the
River Multi-Species Conservation Program. The 635 acres of former farmland in the Palo Verde Valley are being transformed into a natural habitat of cottonwood, willow and honey mesquite trees next to the Colorado River. The Dennis Underwood Conservation Area is expected to attract numerous species, such as the yellow-billed cuckoo, vermilion flycatcher, Arizona Bell's vireo, western red bat and Colorado River cotton rat. The area was created through an easement granted by Metropolitan, which owns the land, to the Bureau of Reclamation for the development and management of the habitat in perpetuity. Restoration and planting work has begun and is expected to be completed in 2021.
Read the release.