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Ceres River Bluff Park improvements coming
City plans to restore lower terrace to its native state
The design for the lower terrace of Ceres River Bluff Regional Park. - photo by Courtesy of the city of Ceres

Ceres River Bluff Regional Park is on track to be completed this year.

The city is putting the finishing touches on the design for the lower terrace of the park near the Tuolumne River and expects to start construction this summer on pathways and ponds in an effort to restore the area to its native habitat.

In 2016 the city was awarded a $489,000 grant through the Ceres Rotary Club A California River Parkways (RP) grant program through the California Natural Resources Agency from a $7.6 million pot of money.

The city completed the first phase of the project with a similar grant awarded years ago.

The River Bluff Regional Park is divided into two geographically different sections. The upper terrace, which is level with Hatch Road, is the recreational portion of the park. The northern half of the park, which is on a lower terrace near the river, is planned for habitat ponds, more native landscaping, an access road, more trails and resting benches, and a non-motorized boat ramp. The lower terrace near the Tuolumne River is being restored to its natural river habitat from its former use as a walnut orchard.

The work will cost an estimated $1.5 million.

In 2015 the city ordered $2.3 million worth of projects to expand the park. The work involved removing one soccer field and adding two championship fields and three youth fields, doubling the size of the existing parking lot, adding a roundabout entrance, fencing off a well site, building a $132,750 arbor, installing landscaping and other improvements. With six fields, Ceres competes with Modesto, Ripon and Turlock for state cup tournaments.

Eventually the park will be equipped with a two-million-gallon water tank in the middle of the east side of the park needed when the regional surface water project goes on line.

While the park is owned by the city of Ceres, it will be incorporated into the Tuolumne River Regional Park design that stretches between Modesto and Ceres. The city is a member of the joint powers authority that governs the park.