Carmel River Floodplain Restoration and Environmental Enhancement Project (Carmel River FREE)

In partnership with the County of Monterey, we are leading the landmark Carmel River Floodplain Restoration and Environmental Enhancement (Carmel River FREE) Project. Another example of Big Sur Land Trust's long-term commitment to conservation and land in service of community, Carmel River FREE will restore habitat and help significantly reduce flood risks for homes and businesses in the lower Carmel River watershed.

This project is one of the most extensive and important multi-benefit flood protection and riparian habitat restoration efforts on the Central Coast! Using a nature-based green infrastructure solution, it will reclaim the southern floodplain to direct water away from developed areas north of the river. It includes numerous partners and stakeholders, engineering, design and environmental review, permit approvals and, of course, dollars. The project's design is 60% complete. The Monterey County Board of Supervisors certified the project's Final Environmental Impact Report on January 28, 2020.

Big Sur Land Trust’s 128-acre project site at the former Odello (East) Fields was donated to us by Clint Eastwood and Margaret Eastwood.  While Big Sur Land Trust is the largest landowner at the Carmel River FREE site, portions of the project are also located on Palo Corona Regional Park and Carmel River State Beach.

How you can contribute

Ongoing floodplain restoration and stewardship will require additional funding. Anticipating this critical need, in 2016 we set up a stewardship fund with the Community Foundation for Monterey County. The Carmel River FREE Stewardship Fund has a fundraising goal of $2 million to cover the estimated $100,000 annual project stewardship costs over the next twenty years. For more information contact Kate Mitchell Mehle at 831.625.5523 ext.105.

Carmel River FREE Project Overview Slides