Nigiri Project

Nigiri Project

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Project Goal:

Scientifically demonstrate that productivity created by shallow inundation of floodplains is foundational to supporting self-sustaining populations of fish and wildlife in the Central Valley.

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Project Stages

Permitting Phase


Estimated Completion Date:
Nigiri South: 2024; Nigiri North: 2028


Project Funders

Water Foundation 

Cal Marsh and Farm Knaggs Ranch LLC

Battery Powered (Past)

Resources Legacy Fund (Past)

Fish Affected:

Project Description

Now in its eighth year, Nigiri has scientifically demonstrated that food web productivity created by mimicking natural winter flood patterns on farmed floodplains when the fields are idle is critical to recovering healthy robust populations of fish and wildlife in the Central Valley.

We organize and advocate for landscape-scale reactivation of river floodplains on working farmland. Only when we implement true ecological change at that scale can we expect to trigger the population-level response we need to recover endangered fish populations.

Our floodplain project continues to expand with more than 10,000 acres planned in the Yolo and Sutter Bypasses. The new combination of Nigiri North (Sutter Bypass) and Nigiri South (Yolo Bypass) continues to negotiate permitting regulations for large-scale implementation of floodplain management on working lands of the Central Valley’s flood control infrastructure. Working in partnership with DWR, CDFW, landowners, and the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences among many others, the science-based program has demonstrated that productivity created by shallow inundation of floodplains on dormant rice-fields is critical to supporting the food webs on which self-sustaining populations of fish, particularly endangered winter-run Chinook salmon, and wildlife in the Central Valley depend.

A new partnership with Ecological Investment Partners has accelerated the development of an ecosystem impact model that is critical to the permitting process. Additionally, new relationships and land acquisitions in southern Yolo Bypass have increased the footprint of Nigiri South. In order to expedite construction of multi-benefit water infrastructure improvements at the landscape scale, we are planning a public Floodplain Symposium in Fall 2021 to both highlight the last decade of floodplain research and engage panels of ecosystem experts on the potential benefits of permitting and implementing such ecosystem-scale infrastructure changes.

Project Partners:

Ecosystem Investment Partners

Cal Marsh and Farm

Knaggs Ranch LLC

UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences

Department of Water Resources

Northern California Water Association

the Water Foundation

River Partners

CA Department of Fish & Wildlife

Golden Gate Salmon Association

Pisces Foundation

California Water Foundation

Latest Project Info:

Salmon & Rice in the New York Times

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