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The Cottonwood Creek Watershed Group has been the leading voice of the community in the fight to safeguard the scenic beauty, wildlife, and historic and cultural treasures of the largest and most diverse undammed tributary in the northern Central Valley. The Cottonwood Creek flows 124 miles through a watershed that encompasses over 603,000+ acres. CCWG and its many supporters are committed to preserving the environment, private property and water rights and economic resources for generations to come. We are a 501(c) (3) nonprofit and receive most of our funding from grants and donations.
Cottonwood Creek is located in northern California and is the largest undammed westside tributary to the upper Sacramento River. It lies within Shasta and Tehama counties; Cottonwood, the main town in the watershed, lies along Interstate 5 halfway between the cities of Red Bluff and Redding. The Cottonwood Creek is home to threatened salmon and steelhead, as well as several other listed species, including the Western Red Bat. Cottonwood Creek is also the primary source of spawning gravel for the Sacramento River, providing almost 85% of the gravel introduced between the towns of Redding and Red Bluff.
Approximately one third of the watershed is comprised of public lands, predominantly U.S. Forest Service land, as well as lands managed by U.S. Bureau of Land Management. The balance of acreage within the watershed is mainly private land, including timberland, small rural subdivisions and agriculture; both irrigated and grazing range land. A wide variety of habitats occurs within the watershed, including mixed conifer forest, chaparral, blue oak woodlands, valley grassland, and riparian forest, to name several. Like many rural areas, the watershed is under growing pressure from development and urbanization.
The Cottonwood Creek Watershed Group (CCWG), a 501(c)(3) non-profit incorporated ten years ago, manages over 603,000 acres of watershed, including over 120 miles of waterways.
Recognizing early in its formation that all residents living in the watershed have a vested interest in its health, and that, in order to be successful, that all members of the community must have a voice and be involved in strategic planning and project implementation, the CCWG quickly grew from an organized group of landowners into a community-wide partnership including schools, businesses, concerned individuals, community based groups, and government entities.
The CCWG works closely with government agencies and other environmental groups in developing conservation projects and, to date, has developed programs and projects directly related to invasive weed removal, stream-bank conservation, sediment budget, macro-invertebrate (insect) studies, sustainable agriculture projects, riparian restoration, oak woodlands preservation, and others. Most recently, the CCWG has been collaborating with The Nature Conservancy in further refining priorities and objectives for the watershed. The CCWG holds bi-monthly stakeholder meetings and operates under Watershed Assessment and Strategic Management Plans developed by the engineering firm of CH2MHill.
The CCWG also recognizes that a holistic approach to watershed management, which takes into account socio-economic factors, culture and lifestyle, environmental justice, in addition to scientifically-informed conservation projects, is vital to the long-term success of conservation programs and the health of the watershed. To further this vision, the CCWG has, recently:
- Been working ever more closely with local schools to expand watershed education programs to grow the next generation of watershed stewards.
- Expanded marketing potential for local small agricultural producers by establishing the Cottonwood Certified Farmers' Market and Artisans' Fair.
- Entered into a five-year agreement with Evergreen School District to establish a Community Garden to provide fresh food to local low-income individuals and families.
- Formed a partnership with Shepherd's Heart Food Bank to help in distributing fresh produce and to expand the food bank to help meet the needs of local, underserved populations.
With this vision as guide, the CCWG will continue to develop and implement projects and programs which are finely tuned, fiscally efficient, and which meet identified needs for all the inhabitants of the watershed - the animals, the plants, and the people.