Fighting for the return of this great river

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Few people can give a clear and accurate answer to explain why the Kern is so often dry. This is because the river's history and current situation is complex and hard to understand. The truth doesn't have to be confusing - we've done the work of distilling down the facts, making it easy for anyone to understand the history of water rights on the Kern River and how they affect the river today. Click here to learn more.


The Kern River has sustained our valley for years. The water from the river sustains farming operations that have made Kern County a top agricultural producer in the nation. Our goal is to work in concert with growers and community members to create a local ecology that is healthy for farming, wildlife, and our citizens. Returning water to the river is not an either/or proposition. It is possible to run water through the river and provide needed water to industry, but we need local leaders to think creatively, work cooperatively and find new solutions to old problems. Join the movement by signing the petition now.

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In recent years, dry rivers across California have been restored. This happened thanks to the determination and voices of local people. We need Kern County residents to speak on behalf of the river. Water flowing through the city will provide not only a healthier ecology, but also a healthier community. Every summer people die when they swim in the swift currents at Hart Park or in the Kern Canyon. Running water through the center of town provides a safe place for children and families to swim and play. People shouldn’t have to risk their lives to cool down in the summertime, but it will take many voices speaking together to make this change come about. Click here to learn about upcoming Bring Back the Kern events and how to get involved.



Our mission is to restore a reliable flow of water to the 10 miles of Kern River that runs through Bakersfield. The riverbed is dry not just because of seasonal conditions, but rather from decades of business deals that have left the citizens of Bakersfield in the dust. We have three points of focus:

  • The State Water Resources Board needs to award all unappropriated waters of the Kern to the City of Bakersfield

  • Bakersfield should decide how to best use water that residents have owned since 1976, which it has been prevented from putting down the river for nearly 10 years

  • The Kern County Water Agency must do its part to restore the river, as was agreed upon when KCWA applied for Prop 13 funds in 2000. They received money for water infrastructure improvements but never used the infrastructure to restore the river

Keep updated on news & ways to help Bring Back the Kern.

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“Everything that is done in the world is done by hope”

Martin Luther


Bring Back the Kern is a group of Bakersfield residents united by both their love of community and the Kern River. This all-volunteer organization includes people from all walks of life. Some have spent years advocating for ecological issues, while for others this is their first experience with a community project. While our backgrounds may differ, our goal is shared: to improve the ecological and physical health of Bakersfield by running a regular flow of water down the Kern River. If you have a deep connection with the Kern and would like to be a part of our team, please reach out to us today

Powerhouse at mouth of Canyon sat sh HS_