Environmental Incentives
Environmental Incentives


Mokelumne Watershed Environmental Benefits Program


Jackson, CA


The Challenge

The Mokelumne supplies drinking water to more than 1.3 million California residents, produces an average of 1000 GWh of hydropower which gives electricity to about 215,000 homes, and supports an extensive agricultural economy of more than 800,000 acres of important crops such as winegrapes and orchards. At the same time, the watershed provides critical habitat for many sensitive fish and wildlife species, including fall-run chinook salmon, steelhead trout, red-legged frog, northern goshawk and American marten. The Mokelumne also offers outstanding recreational opportunities such as hiking, camping, biking, rafting, and fishing. But like many watersheds in the state, the Mokelumne faces threats from high-intensity fire, land use patterns and practices, and climate change impacts.

The Solution

The Mokelumne Environmental Benefits Program is an innovative, collaborative and voluntary effort to protect and restore nature’s benefits, support local economies, and sustain rural communities, from the headwaters of the Mokelumne River in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains to its confluence with the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. Our premise is simple: by measuring and tracking economic investments and environmental outcomes, we can substantially increase both the amount and effectiveness of watershed restoration activities. By creating a framework where environmental benefits are tracked and traded, the Program incentivizes environmental stewardship.

The Outcome

We envision a future in which public and private sectors are brought together to develop and participate in investment opportunities that reward sustainable resource management and watershed restoration in the Mokelumne River watershed. Under this vision, landowners and land managers will be compensated for undertaking sustainable management practices and restoration activities. By providing incentives, the Mokelumne Program will foster healthier forests and streams and improved water quality and flows, resulting in jobs, cost savings, and other societal benefits.


“For the Lodi region, productive agriculture depends on a healthy Mokelumne River; by protecting the watershed and its wildlife we are investing in a thriving economy and community.”

- Chris Storm, Vino Farms

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