Salton Sea Early Start Habitat

February 21, 2007
Mike Chrisman
Secretary for Resources
Resources Agency
1416 Ninth Street, Suite 1311
Sacramento, CA 95814

Re: Salton Sea Early Start Habitat

Dear Secretary Chrisman:

As members of the Salton Sea Advisory Committee and as representatives of AudubonCalifornia, California Outdoor Heritage Alliance, Defenders of Wildlife, Pacific Institute, and Sierra Club, organizations with nearly 400,000 members in California, we write to urge you to expedite the development and implementation of ‘Early Start Habitat’ (ESH) at the Salton Sea. We believe that ESH can provide multiple benefits, including high-quality bird habitat, air quality management, data on the relative benefits of various ecological and engineering designs, and, more broadly, a mechanism for generating additional revenues for the Salton Sea Ecosystem Restoration Program.

The broad consensus on the value and importance of implementing ESH strongly suggests that ESH should move forward as a separate project, unconnected to the larger and more contentious issues surrounding the selection, funding and implementation of the Salton Sea Ecosystem Restoration Program’s preferred alternative. We urge you to separate the implementation of ESH from the broader Salton Sea Ecosystem Restoration project, and to ensure that work on ESH begins as quickly as possible. Specifically, we urge you to direct the Department of Fish & Game to work with the USGS Salton Sea Science Office, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Salton Sea Authority on the design and location of ESH around the Salton Sea, and to work with the Imperial Irrigation District (IID) to identify optimal sites for ESH. Further, we request that you initiate scoping for this project no later than May 31, 2007.

Additionally, we urge you to brief the members of the Wildlife Conservation Board on: (1) the importance of Salton Sea restoration to the State of California; (2) the critical role ESH will have in reducing dust emissions from exposed playa and thereby protecting human health; (3) the benefit that ESH will offer the State and other landowners by reducing liability for dust emissions; (4) the important role ESH will play in providing interim habitat while a preferred alternative is identified, evaluated, permitted, and constructed; (5) the value ESH will have in informing the ecological and engineering design of saline habitat complexes for the preferred alternative; and (6) the importance the State ascribes to funding the work required to implement ESH. […]

Download the full letter here