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13 Year Dry Spell!

Dos Rios Ranch, California's first new state park in 13 years, is just outside of the Bay Area

The confluence of the San Joaquin River, left, and Tuolumne River, right, along the Dos Rios Ranch Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021 in Modesto.

Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times via Getty Image

A 2,100-acre riverfront property once home to dairy pastures and vast almond orchards is slated to become California’s newest state park and will be regularly accessible to the public for the first time ever after Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Friday that he will allocate $15 million in the state’s revised budget toward the project.

Nestled between the Tuolumne and San Joaquin rivers, Dos Rios Ranch in Modesto will be California’s first state park in 13 years – the longest the state has gone without introducing a new park since the department was founded in 1927. It’s a welcome addition to the San Joaquin Valley, which has fewer state parks than any other region in the state, according to state parks director Armando Quintero.

The park will not only offer scenic views of the California landscape as it looked more than 150 years ago, but also provide restored habitats for endangered animals to thrive, such as the sandhill crane, the riparian brush rabbit and Central Valley Chinook salmon, a species that wildlife officials said had been practically decimated amid drought impacts last year. A formerly endangered species, the Aleutian cackling goose, was de-listed as a result of a $40 million floodplain restoration project – the largest of 17 identified by the state – made by Chico-based environmental group River Partners, which purchased the land in 2012. Monarch butterflies have also returned to the area as native milkweed planted by the organization flourishes, while 30-foot-high cottonwood trees provide shade and a place for birds to roost.

“Lots of wildlife are responding,” president Julie Rentner told the Mercury News on a visit to the site last Wednesday. “Birds are moving in like crazy. There hadn’t been deer on this property for 60 years. Now they are back.”

After River Partners donates the property, Dos Rios Ranch is expected to open for hiking in late 2023, with more trails, signage, restrooms, parking lots and a potential campground to be developed over the next five years, Brian Dewey, the department’s assistant deputy director for acquisitions and development, told the Modesto Bee.

Located just over 80 miles east of San Francisco, it will be the 280th state park in California.

Written By Amanda Bartlett

Amanda Bartlett is a culture reporter for SFGATE. Prior to joining the newsroom in 2019, she worked for the Roxie Theater, Noise Pop and Frameline Film Festival. Bartlett graduated from the University of Iowa and lives in San Francisco.



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