California Riparian Habitat Conservation Program

Dense green vegetation lining sides of river


Riparian habitats are those plant communities supporting woody vegetation found along rivers, creeks and streams. Riparian habitat can range from dense thickets of shrubs to a closed canopy of large mature trees covered by vines. Riparian habitat provides riverbank protection, erosion control and improved water quality, as well as numerous recreational and aesthetic values.

Riparian systems are one of our most important and most neglected renewable natural resources. These systems also supply food, cover and water for a diversity of animals and serve as migration routes and stopping points between habitats. Riparian vegetation stabilizes streambanks and resists the flow of floodwaters, while increasing the time available for water to infiltrate into the soil recharging groundwater and alluvial aquifers.

Riparian habitat provides important food, nesting habitat, cover, and migration corridors. Over 135 species of California birds such as the willow flycatcher, yellow-billed cuckoo and red-shouldered hawk completely depend upon riparian habitats or may use them preferentially at a particular stage of their life history.

The California Riparian Habitat Conservation Program (CRHCP) was created within the Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB) by legislation in 1991. The Program’s basic mission is to develop coordinated conservation efforts aimed at protecting and restoring California's riparian ecosystems.

The goal of the CRHCP, as noted in its enabling legislation, is to protect, preserve, and restore riparian habitats throughout California. Typical riparian projects include, but are not limited to:

  • Restoration of riparian vegetation and re-establishing floodplain connectivity.
  • Active or passive restoration that may include an element of invasive plant removal and control.
  • Installation of fencing along the riparian corridor to manage livestock or wildlife and reduce impacts to streams or riparian vegetation.
  • Reconfigure degraded, incised, or undefined streams to restore natural hydrology and encourage reestablishment of native riparian habitat.

Project Criteria

Grantee or landowner will maintain protected and restored habitat in perpetuity for conservation easements, and typically for 25 years for other implementation projects. A long-term management plan is a requirement of any funded project.

Grantee will complete environmental review for their project as required by state and federal laws and obtain all required environmental permits.

A contribution of either cash or in-kind services is recommended for all projects; partnerships are strongly encouraged.


Cara Allen
(916) 926-9584

How to Apply

WCB accepts proposals on a continuous basis for the California Riparian Habitat Conservation Program and is authorized to award grants to nonprofit organizations (501(c)(3)), local governmental agencies, State departments and federal agencies.

Prospective applicants should first complete the Pre-application Form (Word) and then submit it to the WCB program manager for review and discussion. WCB staff may request the applicant to complete a full application - standard Restoration Funding Application (Word) for further review and evaluation.

All applications will be evaluated with assistance from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. If a proposed project is accepted, a grant agreement will be prepared, and the proposal will be scheduled for consideration at a future WCB meeting.

The Board of WCB meets four times a year. Please allow a minimum of six months from submittal of full application to project approval.

Wildlife Conservation Board
Physical Address: 715 P Street, 17th Floor, Sacramento, CA 95814
Mailing Address: Wildlife Conservation Board c/o CDFW, P.O. Box 944209, Sacramento, CA 94244-2090
(916) 445-8448 | Contact WCB