The timing was no accident; he’d delayed his departure from the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) to see the project through after helping to launch it ten years earlier. But even from the very beginning of his career, McEwan had been committed to doing all he could for declining species in and around the Delta. That “calling,” as he put it, began with 25 years at the California Department of Fish and Game (now Fish and Wildlife) supporting Pacific salmon and steelhead trout—including protecting valuable freshwater habitat upstream of the Delta and helping to get the coho salmon listed under the California Endangered Species Act. In 2007, McEwan jumped to DWR and was soon leading an effort to restore 8,000 acres of tidal wetlands across 11 individual sites—of which Flyway Farms was first to be completed—designed to serve as mitigation for impacts to Delta smelt resulting from operation of the State Water Project. “I got into government service to try to do some good in the world,” he says. “I’d always been interested in biology and I knew [conservation] was the direction I wanted to go for my career.” Yet he also found that habitat restoration is often hindered by permitting delays at government agencies. “If you have a restoration project that needs to be permitted under the Endangered Species Act, it should go to the top of the pile.”o DWR and was soon leading an effort to restore 8,000 acres of tidal wetlands across 11 individual sites—of which Flyway Farms was first to be completed—designed to serve as mitigation for impacts to Delta smelt resulting from operation of the State Water Project. “I got into government service to try to do some good in the world,” he says. “I’d always been interested in biology and I knew [conservation] was the direction I wanted to go for my career.” Yet he also found that habitat restoration is often hindered by permitting delays at government agencies. “If you have a restoration project that needs to be permitted under the Endangered Species Act, it should go to the top of the pile.” NS

Pearls in the ocean of information that our reporters didn’t want you to miss
 

Dennis McEwan finished work on the 430-acre Yolo Flyway Farms Tidal Habitat Restoration Project in September 2018. A month later, he retired.

The timing was no accident; he’d delayed his departure from the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) to see the project through after helping to launch it ten years earlier. But even from the very beginning of his career, McEwan had been committed to doing all he could for declining species in and around the Delta. That “calling,” as he put it, began with 25 years at the California Department of Fish and Game (now Fish and Wildlife) supporting Pacific salmon and steelhead trout—including protecting valuable freshwater habitat upstream of the Delta and helping to get the coho salmon listed under the California Endangered Species Act. In 2007, McEwan jumped to DWR and was soon leading an effort to restore 8,000 acres of tidal wetlands across 11 individual sites—of which Flyway Farms was first to be completed—designed to serve as mitigation for impacts to Delta smelt resulting from operation of the State Water Project. “I got into government service to try to do some good in the world,” he says. “I’d always been interested in biology and I knew [conservation] was the direction I wanted to go for my career.” Yet he also found that habitat restoration is often hindered by permitting delays at government agencies. “If you have a restoration project that needs to be permitted under the Endangered Species Act, it should go to the top of the pile.”o DWR and was soon leading an effort to restore 8,000 acres of tidal wetlands across 11 individual sites—of which Flyway Farms was first to be completed—designed to serve as mitigation for impacts to Delta smelt resulting from operation of the State Water Project. “I got into government service to try to do some good in the world,” he says. “I’d always been interested in biology and I knew [conservation] was the direction I wanted to go for my career.” Yet he also found that habitat restoration is often hindered by permitting delays at government agencies. “If you have a restoration project that needs to be permitted under the Endangered Species Act, it should go to the top of the pile.” NS

About the author

Nate Seltenrich is a freelance science and environmental journalist who covers infrastructure, restoration, and related topics for Estuary. He also contributes to the San Francisco Chronicle, Sonoma and Marin magazines, the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, and other local and national publications, on subjects ranging from public lands and renewable energy to the human health impacts of climate change. He lives in Petaluma with his wife, two boys, and four ducks. www.nate-reports.com

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