Salton Sea Coalition Urges Immediate Action to Save Salton Sea

For Immediate Release: Friday, May 25, 2007

The Next Phase of Restoration Must Focus on Immediate Threats to Public Health and Wildlife

(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) Members of the Salton Sea Coalition commended the California Resources Agency for submitting a preferred alternative for restoration of the Salton Sea to the California Legislature today, and urged that legislators take immediate action to implement consensus elements of the plan.

“The Secretary had the unenviable task of trying to develop a consensus plan to protect the enormously important but complex Salton Sea. We commend him for the tremendous amount of time he devoted to this effort, and for moving the restoration project to the next phase,” said Michael Cohen, Senior Associate at the Oakland-based Pacific Institute and member of the Resources Agency’s Salton Sea Advisory Committee.

“The Secretary’s plan includes the major elements required by state law to protect fish and wildlife habitat and manage air quality to protect human health and agriculture,” said Kim Delfino, Advisory Committee member and director of the Defenders of Wildlife California office. “We urge the legislature to act quickly on these consensus elements.”

“The law requires the Preferred Alternative to restore the maximum feasible wildlife habitat, maintain water quality and prevent harm to air quality, which can be done for about $2 billion,” said Julia Levin, policy director for Audubon California and Salton Sea Advisory Committee member. “The Legislature should ensure that those parts of the plan proceed first and receive sufficient funding and water before committing an additional $6-7 billion for the recreational lake that are also included in the Secretary’s Preferred Alternative,” she added.

“Now it’s up to the legislature to make good on the Secretary’s efforts and not abandon the Sea, or the hopes and hard work of the many people who have devoted so much time to designing a plan that meets that State’s obligations to protect public health and wildlife,” said Jim Metropulos, Legislative Representative of Sierra Club California.

“Early Start Habitat and air quality monitoring jump out of the proposal as straightforward, consensus elements, and should be implemented as soon as possible,” said Cohen. “Authorizing and funding these would offer a quick initial success for California, and would get the ball rolling on the bigger, more challenging elements of the plan.”

“Failing to restore the Salton Sea is simply not an option,” said Delfino. “The Sea is just too important to the people, agriculture, economy, and wildlife of the region for us not to save it.”

The Salton Sea Coalition is comprised of 13 organizations of varied interests and backgrounds that have joined together to support and advocate for the protection and revitalization of the Salton Sea, an important part of California’s natural, cultural and agricultural heritage. The Coalition’s conservation, recreation and environmental justice groups represent more than 1.3 million Californians.