Protecting the Rivers of California’s Wine Country

Wildlife & Ecosystems

Protecting the Rivers of California’s Wine Country

How can nature and people coexist successfully in California’s threatened wine country?

Previously Funded Expedition

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The facts

Why the research is important

Why the research is important

This research represented a unique opportunity to conserve critical habitat for local and migratory wildlife.

How can wine growers and wildlife live in harmony? Research helped provide an answer.

At vineyards and natural areas along the Napa, Russian, and Navarro rivers, Earthwatch volunteers collected data on plant, bird, and insect diversity, and took physical measurements of soil and vegetation to measure the ecosystem services that are valuable to farmers. They worked with the Nature Conservancy and other partners to find a balance between production and ecosystem integrity in riverside habitats. Streamside areas serve as natural filters between the river and the land and protect the river from pollution, provide habitat for birds, and stabilize freshwater food webs. This research represented a unique opportunity to conserve critical habitat for local and migratory wildlife and sustain agricultural production and livelihoods.

California vineyards

Data collection helps encourage sustainable agriculture in Northern California’s wine country.

This project contributed to establishing estimates of the true value of this ecosystem by evaluating carbon storage in native and cultivated vegetation and soils. It investigated and established data for native butterfly pollinators, estimated bird diversity, and identified a range of potential restoration strategies. The project helped scientists and the public gain a better understanding of the relative impacts of different land uses on native plant and insect diversity, define the benefits that agriculture derives from natural habitat, and use this information to develop new incentives for conserving and restoring streamside habitat.

About the research area

Sonoma County, California, United States, North America & Arctic

Daily life in the field


This is a summary:

The Scientists


Professor and Associate Director of the Center for Watershed Sciences, University of California at Davis

ABOUT Josh Viers

Earthwatch ecologist Dr. Josh Viers studies sustainable agriculture and conservation in the watersheds of California’s North Coast, Sierra Nevada, and Delta.


Accommodations and Food

Accommodations and Food


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