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California Leads Effort to Let Rivers Roam, Lower Flood Risk

The Tuolumne and San Joaquin rivers meet on the edge of the Dos Rios Ranch Preserve in Modesto, Calif., Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2022. The 2,100-acre preserve is California's largest floodplain restoration project, designed to give the rivers room to breath and restore traditional riparian habitats. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
The Tuolumne and San Joaquin rivers meet on the edge of the Dos Rios Ranch Preserve in Modesto, Calif., Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2022. The 2,100-acre preserve is California's largest floodplain restoration project, designed to give the rivers room to breath and restore traditional riparian habitats. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
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Modesto, Calif. (AP) -- Between vast almond orchards and dairy pastures in the heart of California’s farm country sits a property being redesigned to look like it did 150 years ago, before levees restricted the flow of rivers that weave across the landscape.

The 2,100 acres (1,100 hectares) at the confluence of the Tuolumne and San Joaquin rivers in the state’s Central Valley are being reverted to a floodplain. That means when heavy rains cause the rivers to go over their banks, water will run onto the land, allowing traditional ecosystems to flourish and lowering flood risk downstream.