Tuolumne River Trust Celebrates Opening of California’s Newest State Park

By Giving List Staff   |   June 14, 2024

We are thrilled to celebrate the grand opening of Dos Rios, California’s newest State Park. This project, initiated by Tuolumne River Trust (TRT) over twenty years ago, offers a vision of the future where restoration and recreation seamlessly come together.

On Wednesday, June 12th, the park officially opened to the public. A symbolic handing off of a giant key from TRT and River Partners to California State Parks marked the event, witnessed by state and local leaders, key partners, and community members.

Governor Gavin Newsom expressed, “Our state parks are a point of pride and inspiration for Californians and visitors from around the world. Today, we celebrate the opening of Dos Rios – our first new State Park in a decade – which creates new outdoor recreation opportunities for Central Valley communities, provides habitat for threatened and endangered wildlife, and advances the state’s innovative efforts to combat the climate crisis using nature-based solutions.” 

Located about 8 miles west of Modesto in the San Joaquin Valley, the approximately 1,600-acre Dos Rios property is the largest public-private floodplain restoration project in California to restore habitat for threatened and endangered wildlife at the Tuolumne and San Joaquin Rivers. 

California’s Central Valley once boasted 4 million acres of floodplains, but by the mid-1800s, 70% of these ecosystems were transformed for agricultural use. The devastating floods of 1997 highlighted the need to let rivers flood naturally, creating an opportunity to integrate parks and recreation with flood management.

Dos Rios’s transition from a working ranch to a public park has been a long time in the making. In the early 2000s, TRT’s Executive Director Patrick Koepele began seeking private landowners who shared a vision for wetland restoration. After several years of TRT’s diligent work, Patrick met the Lyons family, and the seeds of an innovative partnership began to germinate. 

The Lyons family, Central Valley farmers, had a conservation ethic already threading through their agricultural lives. Bill Lyons Sr, a third-generation farmer, worked with the US Fish and Wildlife Service on the San Joaquin River National Wildlife Refuge, and the family had initiated ecological projects of their own. As one example, they grew alfalfa and forage mix to benefit the threatened Aleutian Cackling Goose. Due in part to the work of the Lyons family and others along the goose’s migratory route, this species recovered and is now off the endangered species list—a rare reversal.

Once the Lyons family committed to returning Dos Rios Ranch to its pre-agricultural character, purchasing the land took ten years. This sense of time and labor is imbued with the logic of the river itself: A slow, steady trickle of work turns into a flowing project, endlessly interconnected with many collaborators along the way. In partnership with River Partners, TRT raised $22 million to purchase the ranch by 2012. This collaborative effort has secured a future for the diverse species and ecosystems of the valley floodplain.

“Seeing Dos Rios officially open after two decades of dedicated effort fills me with immense pride and gratitude. This park represents the culmination of countless hours of hard work, collaboration, and unwavering commitment to restoring a vital piece of California’s Central Valley floodplains. Every visit, every educational tour, and every bike ride through the park contributes to our ongoing efforts to protect these vital ecosystems for future generations. I couldn’t be more thrilled to share this incredible resource with our community,” Patrick shares. 

While the trees are still young, we envision a future where gallery forests of Valley Oaks and Cottonwoods provide habitat for thousands of birds. Visitors will enjoy biking through riparian forests, paddling on the river, and fishing in the serene waters. Our goal is to connect local communities with the great outdoors, nurturing a lifelong relationship with nature.

The collaborative creation of Dos Rios speaks to networks of support that play out over expansive timescales and geographies with many species, ecosystems, and human communities in partnership throughout the watershed. This collective energy connects whole ecosystems and supports river health from the Central Valley to the San Francisco Bay and beyond.


Tuolumne River Trust

Donate now!

(415) 225-6115
Chief Advancement Officer: Nicole Cibellis


We protect and restore the Tuolumne River watershed for present and future generations. We do this through three key program areas: education, advocacy, and restoration.

Begin to Build a Relationship

We know you care about where your money goes and how it is used. Connect with this organization’s leadership in order to begin to build this important relationship. Your email will be sent directly to this organization’s Director of Development and/or Executive Director.

We truly appreciate TRT’s stewardship to protect and restore historical populations of Chinook salmon and Central Valley steelhead to the Tuolumne watershed. Fishing for these species in a healthy river system is a fly fisher’s dream… a dream TRT can help realize for future generations. That effort starts with habitat restoration, river flow management, and community outreach… cornerstones of TRT’s fishery restoration approach.
Jeff and Diane Wilson

Keep the Source of Your Water Protected

Your support today protects the Tuolumne River that fills the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir providing drinking water to more than 2.7 million Bay Area residents. You are actively protecting the water flowing through your tap each and every day. This is the water you shower in, that grows your food, and that you rely on. Every dollar helps the Tuolumne River Trust continue to safeguard your water source.

Key Supporters

Campbell Foundation
Clif Family Foundation
Holdfast Collective
Marin Community Foundation
Silicon Valley Community Foundation
Stanislaus Community Foundation
Sunlight Giving
Amy Meyer
Cindy Charles
Diane and Jeff Wilson
Kristina and Eric Riemer
Kyle and John Kreiter
Molly and John Hooper
Nancy and Bart Westcott
William Reller