$14. 5 Million: Grant awarded by State


Last updated 12/1/2016 at 11:47pm

California Secretary for Natural Resources John Laird, has heralded a $14.5 million grant awarded by the state Wildlife Conservation Board to help fund habitat restoration efforts at the Salton Sea.

The voter-approved bond funds to the California Department of Water Resources will help towards construction of approximately six hundred and forty acres of wetland habitat; designed to sustain tilapia for the great abundance of fish eating birds that flock to the Salton Sea which includes cormorants and pelicans.

Although Tilapia is the dominant fish species in the hyper-saline lake, the water is becoming unlivable with younger fish dying off and washing up on the lake’s shores. The project aims to enhance habitat where the New River flows into the Salton Sea, about seven miles northwest of the city of Westmorland. “This new grant will help us build habitat that protects the bird populations at the Salton Sea,” said Laird. “We’re pushing forward with the projects in our ten year plan to protect wildlife and air quality as the water flow to the sea decreases in coming years.”

In May 2015, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. created the Salton Sea Task Force, directing agencies to develop a comprehensive management plan for the Sea that will meet a short-term goal of nine thousand acres to twelve thousand acres of habitat and dust suppression projects. The Governor also set a medium-term plan to construct between eighteen thousand acres to twenty five thousand acres of habitat and dust suppression projects.

The $14.5 million grant awarded by the Wildlife Conservation Board follows a $1.85 million grant issued in June by the Board to the Imperial Irrigation District to restore approximately six hundred acres of shallow, brackish water habitat in the Red Hill Bay area of the Salton Sea. That project is a joint effort by the Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge, Imperial Irrigation District and private geothermal developers to create habitat and address a highly emissive area of exposed playa.

The habitat work will help fulfill the goals set forth in a Memorandum of Understanding reached in August between the U.S. Department of the Interior and the California Natural Resources Agency.