Meet Dos Rios Ranch, California’s newest state park
If all goes well, California’s newest state park will be open and accessible to visitors within a year. The 2,500-acre Dos Rios Ranch is at the confluence of the Tuolumne and San Joaquin rivers, about ten miles southwest of Modesto in California’s Central Valley.
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First, archeologists will do a survey to make sure that no Native American sites are disturbed. Then, planners will work on park infrastructure. California Governor Gavin Newsom earmarked $5 million for the new park in his state budget proposal.
“We are really excited to be evaluating this preserve as the next state park,” said State Parks Director Armando Quintero, as reported in the LA Times. “We strongly believe that everyone deserves to have close-to-home access to vibrant parks. In a way, it is a walk back in time to a gentle valley. It is one of those places where people will visit and say, ‘Oh, my goodness, this is where I live.’ That’s my hope.”
Dos Rios is right on the Pacific Flyway, so migrating birds depend on it. Conservation groups such as River Partners participated in California’s largest public-private floodplain restoration project here. Eleven funding sources provided the $40 million necessary to restore the habitat for endangered and threatened species.
Birds and animals that visitors might see at Dos Rios include Aleutian cackling geese, brush rabbits, riparian woodrats, sandhill cranes, and neo-tropical migratory songbirds. Volunteers have been vital to habitat restoration and water quality monitoring. Local science students have used Dos Rios as a living outdoor laboratory. Now, with added protection, even more people will be able to learn about the riparian environment and enjoy some outdoor time.
Big Basins Redwoods State Park, established in 1902, is California’s oldest state park. The state was aggressive in preserving land for state parks in the late 1900s, but land acquisition slowed down in the last decade. Fort Ord Dunes State Park, which runs along the Monterey Bay and was established in 2009, was the most recently acquired state park before Dos Rios.