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Audubon California Steps in for Salton Sea

 

Last updated 8/1/2016 at 5:19am

Anne McKinnell

Birds continue to flock to the Salton Sea. Up to 30 percent of American White Pelicans winter here, and Double-crested Cormorants breed here in larger numbers than at any other inland site.

Conservation groups have been vying unsuccessfully for years to stop the slow-motion ecological disaster at the Salton Sea, but that isn't scaring Audubon California away now.

"There's just no way that you can talk about doing flyway-level bird conservation in California and not throw your weight into finding a solution at the Salton Sea," says Audubon California Executive Director Brigid McCormack. "The challenges are daunting, but there hasn't been a better time to make real progress than right now." With the sea facing major water cutbacks starting in 2018, Audubon California is working closely with the state and other stakeholders on a restoration plan to avoid massive habitat loss and the ensuing public health crisis that would result from huge dust storms fed by exposed lakebed.

Audubon California is providing the state with detailed habitat mapping, and raising awareness about the millions of birds that depend on the sea, including sandpipers migrating between Alaska and South America and threatened Snowy Plovers. Without the sea, these birds and many others would struggle for survival.

"Ultimately, the state of California is going to need to make a substantial, sustained investment in restoring the Salton Sea," McCormack says. "Our engagement now will help ensure this is done right-that critical bird habitat is protected, and the toxic dust no longer threatens local communities."

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