Delta Conservation Framework

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Delta Conservation Framework 2018-2050

The Delta Conservation Framework is intended to serve as a comprehensive resource and guide for planning conservation in the Delta through 2050.

The Framework provides a template for regional and stakeholder-led approaches to restoring ecosystem functions to the Delta landscape. It incorporates feedback from a series of public workshops initiated in 2016, prior planning efforts and the best available science on Delta ecosystem processes.

The history, culture, politics and ecosystems of the Delta are complex. The Delta is also connected in many ways to the lands, watersheds and communities that surround it. If the Delta Conservation Framework is used as a guide toward future conservation project planning and implementation, and its conservation goals and strategies are pursued by all Delta stakeholders, it is possible to achieve the vision of a Delta composed of resilient natural and managed ecosystems situated within a mosaic of towns and agricultural landscapes, where people prosper and healthy wildlife communities thrive.

The Delta Conservation Framework includes broad goals that acknowledge the importance of effective communication, community engagement, and education, making decisions based on science, and working collectively on conservation permitting and funding. The Framework suggests multiple strategies that could be used by all Delta stakeholders to move conservation forward.

CDFW initiated the process to develop the Delta Conservation Framework to maintain and increase conservation momentum in the Delta after the pivot away from the Bay Delta Conservation Plan.

Please access the Delta Conservation Framework (DCF) documents below:

Thank You for Your Participation in the Delta Conservation Framework Workshop Series

Your input and recommendations throughout the workshops provided us with invaluable contributions to the Delta Conservation Framework document.

salt marsh harvest mouse

Please find materials from the 2017 Delta Conservation Framework public draft review workshops below.

Beginning in June 2016 the Delta Restoration Network held a series of six public meetings/workshops to capture input and feedback from the Delta stakeholder community and inform the development of the central elements of the Delta Conservation Framework. These elements include the Delta Conservation Framework purpose, vision, principles, goals, and strategies that address the need for:

  1. Integration of conservation, agriculture and community goals,
  2. Conservation of ecosystem processes to promote function, and
  3. Addressing conservation implementation challenges and establishing good-neighbor practices.


Workshop Materials for Download


Introductory Meeting - June 28, 2016

Workshop 1 - August 18, 2016

Workshop 2 - September 21, 2016

Workshop 3 - October 20, 2016

Workshop 4a - November 30, 2016


Workshop 4b - December 1, 2016

people looking at papers in a meeting August 2016 workshop stakeholders

September 2016 workshop stakeholders October 2016 workshop stakeholders

November 2016 Workshop Stakeholders 

Delta stakeholders participating in the public workshop series.

Franks Tract Restoration Feasibility Study

Delta Smelt

The 2016 link opens in new tab or windowDelta Smelt Resiliency Strategy (PDF) identified a number of actions to be implemented to improve conditions in the Delta for the declining state listed endangered and federally listed species. As a result of the extended drought between 2013 and 2015 Delta Smelt abundance had declined to historic lows. The Strategy identified thirteen management actions including development of the Franks Tract Restoration Feasibility Study. The Department of Fish and Wildlife is the lead for preparing the study.

The objective of the Study was to assess the feasibility of restoring components of the historic tidal marsh form and function to create habitat suitable for Delta Smelt. Key restoration objectives include reducing the extent of aquatic weeds, decrease predation on Delta Smelt and other native fishes by lowering habitat suitability for non-native species, and improve food webs.

Franks Tract & Little Franks Tract
Franks Tract & Little Franks Tract facing westward - CDFW Photo

Franks Tract and Little Franks Tract are flooded islands in the Central Delta located in northeastern Contra Costa County adjacent to the community of Bethel Island. The 3,532 acre area, flooded by levee breaches in 1937 and 1982, is currently shallow open water habitat and remnant levees managed as part of the Franks Tract State Recreation Area.

Franks Tract is one of the most popular and heavily used areas of the Delta. Neighboring Bethel Island hosts numerous bass fishing tournaments, including some of national importance.These tournaments and associated recreational boating directly affects the sustainability of the local communities.

Franks Tract Futures?, the final study report, summarizes the restoration concepts developed to date, early stakeholder feedback, and results of initial hydrodynamic modeling and engineering studies including preliminary cost estimates. Findings conclude that it is feasible to restore portions of Franks Tract to improve habitat conditions for Delta Smelt and other native and pelagic fish species. Restoration has the potential to enhance water quality in the central and south Delta, reduce the extent of aquatic weeds, and limit the entrainment of fish from the west Delta into the south Delta.

Invasive species control has been identified as a high priority component of a Central Delta Corridor vision, and as an important near-term action within this corridor. Improving habitat for endangered Delta smelt populations is another primary focus of the vision, as has been outlined in the Delta Smelt Resiliency Strategy.

Existing Delta Intrusion - click to view video in new window
Existing Delta salinity intrusion video
The restoration design eliminates tidal pumping from False River, an important mechanism of salinity intrusion into the mid-Delta. Two video animations, one of the link opens in new windowexisting Delta salinity intrusion (YouTube) in the summer, where saline water from San Francisco Bay is entering and exiting the central Delta with the tides, and a simulation with a link opens in new windowrestored Franks Tract (YouTube) also in summer. The video animations provide conceptual illustrations of how tidal pumping of saline water works with and without a restored Franks Tract. On flood tide, a jet of higher salinity (red) water is seen entering Franks Tract from False River through an aperture sometimes referred to as a nozzle. Water quality in this jet is heavily influenced by that of the San Joaquin River at Jersey Point which is saltier than most of the Delta and Franks Tract. The return flow from Franks Tract is fresher— the salty jet of water will have mixed out somewhat and the ebb flow is drawn radially from a broader area so it includes more of the ambient water in Franks Tract.

Restored Frank Tract Video - click to view video in new window
Restored Franks Tract video
Even if the volume of flow is the same in both directions, the asymmetry between a salty flood and fresher ebb adds up and causes a net transport of salt into the Delta — like a bus that travels both north and south, but carries many more passengers in the southern direction. The CDFW Franks Tract restoration approach reduces False River flows and isolates the tidal pumping region from the Old River fresh water corridor. Regions upstream of the restoration site are shielded from ocean saltwater intrusion and the central Delta becomes fresher.

Stakeholders have many concerns about restoration adversely affecting economically important navigation access, fishing, recreational boating and hunting. The report makes recommendations for next steps in planning following the Delta Conservation Framework. While local boaters, hunters, and fishers value the open waters of the Tract, the ecological and water quality problems of the area are starting to impinge on the greater Delta and California water uses. Franks Tract/Little Franks Tract restoration is part of a larger vision that the link opens in new windowCentral Delta Corridor Partnership is exploring further in a regional planning process in 2018.

The restoration feasibility study was conducted in 2017-18 to inform a feasible and locally accepted restoration design. The following versions of the report are available for download here:

For fast viewing

For high-resolution on-screen viewing and printing

Reports of the following study components are available below

  1. link opens in new tab or windowAppendix A: Hydrodynamic Modeling in Support of Franks Tract Restoration Feasibility Study, Delta Resiliency Strategy (PDF)
  2. link opens in new tab or windowAppendix B: Franks Tract Engineering Feasibility Assessment (PDF)
  3. link opens in new tab or windowAppendix C: Franks Tract & Little Franks Tract User Survey (PDF)
  4. link opens in new tab or windowAppendix D: Franks Tract ROM Cost Estimate - Locally Proposed Conceptual Design (PDF)