Governor Gavin Newsom has proposed a new state park at Dos Rios Ranch, a waterfront reservation southwest of Modesto.
The governor earmarked $5 million for the effort Friday as part of his revised budget proposal for the fiscal year beginning July 1. It would provide the first regular public access to Dos Rios, a 2,400-acre stretch where the Tuolumne and San Joaquin rivers meet.
State Parks Director Armando Quintero toured the site Wednesday with River Partners, the nonprofit organization leading the restoration.
“The beauty of a place like this is that many people in the Central Valley don’t experience the Central Valley for its truly incredible, local natural beauty,” Quintero said. He spoke in the shade of a valley oak tree with other agency leaders.
Installations planned over the next decade
Friday was May’s annual review of the original January budget and must be approved by the state legislature. The overall $300.6 billion plan includes spending a surplus that has reached $97.5 billion thanks mainly to income taxes.
Dos Rios could get trails, picnic areas, restrooms and other basics within five years, said Brian Dewey, the department’s deputy assistant manager for acquisitions and development. Campgrounds could follow within five years.
Dos Rios would be the closest state park for Modesto residents, about 10 miles away. Stanislaus County also has Turlock Lake State Recreation Area, currently closed for lack of a concessionaire, and a remote portion of Coe State Park in the Southwest Hills. Caswell and Hatfield State Parks are just across the rivers that border the county.
Dos Rios would be California’s 280th state park and the first addition since Fort Ord Dunes near Monterey in 2009.
Valley Habitat Restoration
River Partners and its allies have invested approximately $46 million in Dos Rios since 2012. They are planting native trees, brush and grass on fields that were used to grow dairy foods and other crops. The broken levees allow floodwaters to spill out, mitigating the risk to Manteca and other points downstream.
Cottonwoods and other native trees grew taller than 30 feet, shading the floodplain for salmon and other critters. One place grows milkweed to feed monarch butterflies. Another produces basketry materials for indigenous peoples.
Dewey said approval of Friday’s budget request would initiate a process that includes public comment on possible features of the park. Parking lots and other amenities would be located away from flood plains. River Partners now oversees the site from an office off Shiloh Road.
Quintero noted that Dos Rios is just east of the San Joaquin River National Wildlife Refuge. And the new park could be reached by rowboats launched at Modesto and further up the Tuolumne.
“That’s how you spend the summer in the Valley…having shade and water to recreate,” said River Partners President Julie Rentner.