Wetlands are among the most important ecosystems in the world.
They produce high levels of oxygen, filter toxic chemicals out of
water, reduce flooding and erosion and recharge groundwater. They
also serve as critical habitat for wildlife, including a large
percentage of plants and animals on California’s endangered
As the state has grown into one of the world’s leading economies,
Californians have developed and transformed the state’s marshes,
swamps and tidal flats, losing as much as 90 percent of the
original wetlands acreage—a greater percentage of loss than any
other state in the nation.
While the conversion of wetlands has slowed, the loss in
California is significant and it affects a range of factors from
water quality to quality of life.
Wetlands still remain in every part of the state, with the
greatest concentration in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and
its watershed, which includes the Central Valley. The Delta
wetlands are especially important because they are part of the
vast complex of waterways that provide two-thirds of California’s
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced
the selection of US Water Alliance CEO Radhika Fox as the
Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Office of
Water. Fox was a Day One Presidential Appointee in the
Biden-Harris Administration. She will serve as the Acting
Assistant Administrator for Water.
In Oregon, the Klamath Basin wildlife refuges have fallen into
their winter silence now. The huge, clamorous flocks of geese
that fill the sky during migration have moved south. This
summer, a different silence gripped the basin. A dead silence.
The 90,000 acres of marshes and open water that make up the
Lower Klamath and Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuges are a
small remnant of vast wetlands that once filled this region on
the Oregon-California border. -Written by Pepper Trail, a contributor to Writers on the
Range and a conservation biologist in Ashland, Ore.
President Joe Biden has made his priorities clear: subduing the
pandemic, economic recovery, climate action, and racial equity.
… Climate has received top-billing within the president’s
environmental agenda, but water infrastructure and water
systems could also see their status lifted. Some observers are
hopeful that the new administration and the Democratic Congress
will uncork federal water spending that has been steady but
flat in recent years.
The Sacramento County Superior Court recently issued a final
decision in San Joaquin Tributaries Authority v. California
State Water Resources Control Board, finding that the State
Water Resources Control Board (State Board) is not authorized
to adopt a state-level water quality control plan for waters
that are not classified as waters of the United States. As
a result, the State Board is prohibited from applying the Water
Quality Control Plan for Inland Surface Waters and Enclosed
Bays and Estuaries of California (Inland Surface Waters WQCP)
to wetlands that do not meet the federal definition of waters
of the United States.
On Wednesday, Los Angeles County officials released their
preliminary master plan for the river “reimagined” to
support both ecosystems and people who live along [the LA
River's] 51-mile corridor. … The long-awaited plan
— the result of five years of input from community residents,
organizations and people like renowned architect Frank Gehry —
will provide a foundation as the region balances its duty to
protect properties from flooding with the need for more access
to natural environments.
You may know it as Dog Ranch or perhaps Dead Man’s Drop Forest,
but forget that. The parcels immediately to the west of Samoa
Bridge [near Humboldt Bay] are now officially the Samoa Dunes
and Wetlands Conservation Area. “We’re looking to re-introduce
this place to our community,” says Mike Cipra, who heads up
Friends of the Dunes, the new titleholder of the 357 acres.
“This property is a fantastic jewel for our local community and
we want to emphasize just how special it is with the name.”
Construction began this week on a 4,110-acre wetlands project
on the Salton Sea’s playa near the mouth of the highly polluted
New River, the California Department of Natural Resources
announced Wednesday. Called the Species Conservation Habitat
Project, the $206.5 million plan will build ponds and wetlands
along the small delta to provide wildlife habitat and suppress
dust. The final design includes 340 additional acres of
coverage as compared to older projections, and work led by
Kiewit Infrastructure West Co. is expected to be finished by
The regulatory pendulum is expected to swing toward stricter
Clean Water Act enforcement, though experts say the Biden
administration’s changes probably won’t be immediate. Farmers
and environmentalists have been in a political tug-of-war over
the law’s scope for years, largely due to ambiguous legal
interpretations of the statute. While Democrats will now have
power over Congress, their majority is too slim to make changes
to the law, said Don Parrish, the American Farm Bureau
Federation’s senior director of regulatory relations.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has
certified the final Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for a
project aiming to restore the largest coastal wetlands complex
in Los Angeles County and increase public access to outdoor
recreation and natural spaces in one of the most densely
populated areas in the world. The Ballona Wetlands Ecological
Reserve (BWER) project will enhance and establish native
coastal wetlands and upland habitat…
California has lost more than 90% of its wetlands since the
arrival of European settlers. Wetlands play an increasingly
crucial role in absorbing excess water and protecting coastal
and inland communities from flooding. They also provide
critical habitat for wildlife, including a variety of species
found nowhere else on Earth, some of which are at risk of
blinking out of existence…. we’ve identified three critical
lessons California has to offer the world to improve
restoration on a global scale… -Written by Julie Rentner, president of River Partners, and
Manuel Oliva, CEO of Point Blue Conservation Science.
Buried in San Diego County’s lagoons are centuries worth of
carbon, cached in muddy stockpiles that scientists say could
help combat climate change. Recently, scientists with the
conservation organization Wildcoast and Scripps Institution of
Oceanography started studying how much carbon coastal wetlands
can capture, and how to restore these environments to boost
The Army Corps of Engineers finalized a rule on January 4 that
further retracts federal protections for the nation’s smallest
streams. The revisions to the nationwide permits, which
authorize the filling and dredging of waterways, are one of a
flurry of environmental deregulatory actions federal agencies
are taking in the final days of the Trump administration, even
though there is the possibility with a Democratic Congress that
the Biden administration will reverse them.
In a published opinion filed December 29, 2020, the First
District Court of Appeal affirmed a judgment denying a petition
for writ of mandate filed by the Santa Clara Valley Water
District (District) challenging waste discharge requirements
(WDRs) belatedly imposed by a responsible agency, the San
Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board (Board), on
lead agency District’s flood control project…. The case
involved highly unique facts, and a number of interesting legal
issues concerning the Board’s authority under the Federal Clean
Water Act (CWA), the state Porter-Cologne Act, and CEQA.
California’s labyrinthine system of dams and levees cut off
once roaring rivers from millions of acres of their
floodplains, drastically reducing the habitat and food salmon
need to thrive. Climate change may hasten extinctions by
raising water temperatures and disrupting flows with bigger
floods and more frequent and severe droughts, which also
threaten to reignite conflicts over increasingly scarce
water. But such dire prospects have inspired a novel
alliance in one of the most productive agricultural valleys in
the country, which has turned adversaries into allies to offer
salmon and other threatened wildlife a lifeline.
Since the Clean Water Act passed in 1972, the assumption has
been that all waterways are protected from pollution… But the
Trump administration has managed to successfully chip away at
environmental protections in the US, including actions like
2020’s implementation of the Navigable Waters Protection Rule.
The rule redefined which waterways are under the jurisdiction
of and protected by the Clean Water Act, omitting many wetlands
and non-perennial water sources, which means some areas of the
country are impacted more than others.
A petition in opposition to a Ballona Wetlands restoration
project approved by the state had more than 8,800 signatures as
of Monday. Defend Ballona Wetlands, which plans on
challenging the restoration in court, contends the project will
harm animals living in the reserve, including endangered
species and allege the state’s plan is motivated by bond money
and private interests, including a Southern California Gas Co.
gas storage facility under the wetlands.
For years, pairs of grebes would zoom across the water at Lake
Hodges in a dazzling mating dance, and then build their nests
on mats of dried brush suspended above the waterline. This
year, some of the birds are still pairing up, but their nesting
area near Interstate 15 no longer floods with seasonal rains,
and can’t sustain them. The eastern finger of the lake, which
long alternated between riparian woodland and seasonal ponds,
is permanently drained because of state-ordered changes to the
The Sacramento Superior Court delivered a serious blow to
California’s regulatory program for the protection of wetlands
and other waters of the State. The State’s wetland protection
program (commonly known as the “Procedures”), which became
effective in May, was intended to create a regulatory structure
to fill the gap left by recent Trump administration regulations
that dramatically narrowed Federal wetland protections.
Ironically, the court’s order prohibits the State of California
from applying the Procedures to any waters other than those
already protected by Federal law, thus leaving in place the
very regulatory gap that the Procedures were intended to fill.
The Bureau of Reclamation sent Congress the final feasibility
report for the B.F. Sisk Dam Raise and Reservoir Expansion
Project. This marks an important step forward in returning
water supply reliability to south-of-Delta farmers, local
communities, and wildlife refuges.
A decade ago, a diverse coalition of tribes, farmers and
conservationists hashed out water-sharing settlements that
would have given the [Klamath basin] refuges a steady supply of
water each year, and in the process stopped years of lawsuits,
protests and acrimony. But Congress killed their efforts. Now
the refuges — and Lower Klamath in particular — are at risk of
drying up. And the fighting over water will only continue as
the watershed grows increasingly dry from climate change.
Deltas globally adjust with changes and fluctuations in
external conditions, internal dynamics, and human
management. This is a short history of big changes to
California’s Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta (Delta) in the past
and present, and its anticipated future. This history is
important for understanding how many of the Delta’s problems
have developed, changed, and continue to change.
A plan to restore the largest coastal wetlands complex in Los
Angeles County has received state approval as it advances
through a lengthy process. The California Department of Fish
and Wildlife said this week that it has certified the final
environmental impact to restore the Ballona Wetlands Ecological
Holidays are a natural time of introspection on who we are,
what we do, and why. Towards a bit of our own self-reflection,
some researchers from UC Davis’ Center for Watershed Sciences
(CWS) have each contributed a photo and short description of
their work. We hope you enjoy reading about us and learning
even more about us. It is hopefully a soft bookend to a wild
The sun shines meekly through a veil of morning fog and
wildfire smoke while several figures in orange vests, hard
hats, and face masks move slowly through a marsh on the north
shore of San Francisco Bay. …It’s early October at the mouth
of Sonoma Creek, where an unusual conservation project that
broke ground five years ago is nearing the finish line. Audubon
California and partner agencies are turning what was once a
400-acre stagnant backwater into a thriving wetland ecosystem
that will serve as a refuge from rising seas for decades to
The beneficial effects of wetlands on water quality are well
documented, and wetlands are widely used both in urban and
rural settings to remove pollution arising from human
activities. The biogeochemical conditions in wetlands
particularly favor the removal of nitrate, which is often the
dominant form of nitrogen pollution in water.
Runoff from fertilizer and manure application in agricultural
regions has led to high levels of nitrate in groundwater,
rivers, and coastal areas. These high nitrate levels can
threaten drinking water safety and also lead to problems with
algal blooms and degradation of aquatic ecosystems. Previous
research has shown that wetlands improve water quality, but how
much of an impact are wetlands having on nitrate removal now,
and what improvements could wetland restoration deliver in the
The steady drumbeat of support to get more water flowing in the
Kern River through Bakersfield continued Tuesday at the State
Water Resources Control Board. During the public comment
portion of the meeting three speakers from Bakersfield and Kern
County’s political realm urged board members to finally hear —
and grant — a decade-old petition by the City of Bakersfield to
appropriate water on the river to run through the heart of
Working with Rep. Jerry McNerney, Rep. John Garamendi
expedited completion of the Army Corps feasibility study for
the San Francisco Bay to Stockton Navigation Improvement
Project. This feasibility study examines deepening the John F.
Baldwin and Stockton Deepwater Ship Channels from their
existing depths of -35 feet mean lower low water to -40 feet
and beneficially reusing dredged sediment for marsh restoration
of subsided islands in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
The Biggs-West Gridley Water District, Ducks Unlimited and the
Bureau of Reclamation recently announced the completion of
Phase II (of five total phases) of the water supply project for
the world-renowned Gray Lodge Wildlife Area.
Seeking to overturn a federal district court determination that
the Cargill salt ponds in Redwood City are covered by federal
Clean Water Act protections, the Environmental Protection
Agency under the Trump administration and Cargill Inc.
representatives filed appeals to the ruling this week.
In the Central Valley, where agricultural and urban development
have claimed 95 percent of the region’s historic wetlands,
flooded croplands provide food and habitat that help egrets,
sandhill cranes and other iconic water birds get through the
winter. But many farmers are moving toward wine grapes, olives
and other “permanent crops” that don’t provide the same habitat
benefits as row crops. And now these land use changes, combined
with the uncertain effects of a warming world, have left
scientists scrambling to safeguard critical habitat in one of
most important wintering regions for water birds in North
With more than $500,000 in combined state and federal funding
and the conceptual restoration planning for the Loma Alta
Wetlands Enhancement Project complete, the project is one step
closer to coming to fruition.
The federal role in restoring the Salton Sea is limited to a
handful of projects that address issues on lands in and around
the sea that are managed by federal agencies, including the
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Reclamation, Bureau
of Land Management, and Department of Defense. Unlike in areas
such as Lake Tahoe, the Everglades, and the Chesapeake Bay, the
federal government does not have a comprehensive program to
restore the Salton Sea.
Torrance’s Madrona Marsh Preserve and Nature Center will, by
March, finally see the overdue restoration of its vernal pools,
critically important wetland habitat home to numerous rare
plants and animals, including two species of fairy shrimp, at a
cost of about $470,000.
The Bureau of Reclamation, Ducks Unlimited, Inc. and Biggs-West
Gridley Water District completed the second phase of a
five-phase construction project to improve water conveyance for
the Gray Lodge Wildlife Area. This milestone includes
increasing capacity of two major canals that feed water to the
Gray Lodge Wildlife Area, home to more than a million waterfowl
Oceanside has been awarded a $175,000 federal grant for the
final design of the Loma Alta Slough Wetlands Enhancement
Project, which will restore about six acres with improved
habitat, trails, informational signs and possibly a connection
to the Coastal Rail Trail.
Crews began work this month in the marsh system of Taylor and
Tallac creeks in the Southwest portion of the Tahoe Basin to
remove aquatic invasive plants from an abundant and impacted
marsh ecosystem, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency announced.
In early November, the Domestic Names Committee of the U.S.
Board of Geographic Names voted unanimously to name a peak in
Nevada’s Amargosa Valley, outside of Death Valley National
Park, for the endangered Devils Hole and the Ash Meadows
While many people look towards the mountains for accessing
beautiful nature, the San Joaquin Valley Floor is home to many
amazing sights of nature and in particular, birds. Not only is
Tulare County home to over 100 types of birds, it is part of
the Pacific Flyway – one of the most important bird migration
paths in the world.
Alfalfa is proving in University of California studies to be
remarkably resilient when flooded with large amounts of water
early in the year to refill ground depleted by deficit
irrigation, or to recharge groundwater drawn down by pumping.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife announced
Tuesday it’s awarding $10.7 million for fisheries habitat
restoration program projects. Ten out of the 27 projects
selected by the CDFW are in Humboldt County and will receive a
total of nearly $2.7 million of the funding.
Westlands Water District announced Wednesday that it recently
completed the Lower Yolo Restoration Project, which restored
the habitat for fish and other wildlife species in part of the
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. … The land had been previously
used for cattle grazing, and now it has transformed into tidal
marsh, riparian and upland buffer habitat.
HR 8775, the Salton Sea Public Health and Environmental
Protection Act, would create an interagency working group
called the Salton Sea Management Council to coordinate projects
around the lake’s receding shoreline.
A Biden administration won’t be able to untangle the legal and
regulatory “mess” under part of the Clean Water Act that
determines which streams, wetlands and other waters get federal
protection, legal scholars and litigators say.
How did two of the most important waterfowl refuges in the
United States reach such a sad state? The decline of the Tule
Lake and Lower Klamath refuges was a hundred years in the
making. There are no villains here; rather it is simply a tale
of too little water to go around on an arid landscape.
An annual search for a tiny endangered and contentious fish in
the sprawling California Delta has once again come up empty.
The state’s annual Fall Midwater Trawl found no Delta smelt in
September’s sampling of the critical waterway. … Hoping to
reverse the trend, Westlands Water District and the California
Department of Water Resources announced completion of a Delta
habitat restoration project on Wednesday.
Rangeland ecologists at the University of California, Davis,
found that when ranchers invest even one week a year in
practices that keep cows away from creeks — like herding,
fencing and providing supplemental nutrition and water — they
can improve riparian health by as much as 53 percent.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District and its
partner, the California Department of Parks and Recreation,
Angeles District, are one step closer on a project to restore
Malibu Creek’s ecosystem after receiving support from the
Corps’ top brass.
“King tides are about one-to-two feet higher than an average
tide, and it turns out that is about what we expect to see in
California in the next few decades from sea level rise,” said
Annie Cohut Frankel of the California Coastal Commission. “We
invite the public to look at how these high tides are impacting
our public beaches, our beach access ways, wetlands, roads and
other coastal infrastructure.”
The U.S. EPA’s water infrastructure financing programs would be
in line for approximately level funding next year under a plan
for FY21 appropriations released by Senate Republicans last
week. … The Republicans’ proposal would provide EPA with just
under $9.1 billion next year, roughly in line with the agency’s
For decades it’s been an environmental jewel wedged between the
urban sprawl of Marina Del Rey and Playa Del Rey. But now the
Ballona Wetlands State Ecological Reserve, home to diverse
plant and animal wildlife, has become a battleground for
conservationists and other activists.
The incoming Biden administration is widely expected to undo
President Trump’s regulatory rollbacks on a range of water
rules including stream and wetland protections, drinking water
contamination, and the permitting of controversial energy and
Reported deficiencies in the design and construction of the
water delivery system have resulted in poor water circulation
that has caused algae to overbloom, while cattails and duckweed
are growing like wildfire along pond shores, creating
conditions ripe for mosquitoes. Fairview Park administrator
Cynthia D’Agosta said maintenance costs have ballooned far
beyond the annual $40,000 anticipated at the outset of the
A new order from Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, published
Friday afternoon, would, among other things, essentially give
state and local jurisdictions veto power over how communities
spend and match grants through the Land and Water Conservation
Fund, which funds access to recreation in states and federal
Restoration projects are finally coming to the Salton Sea and
New River. Nearly $47 million dollars have been secured in
California’s state budget for the next year to begin mitigation
efforts at the Salton Sea and the New River.
“Probably water allocation and climate change would be the two
big pivots and increased opportunity for collaboration between
California and the federal government after 4 years of
conflicts and really outright warfare,” said Rick Frank, a
former California chief deputy attorney general. He is now a
professor at UC Davis law school.
The Army Corps of Engineers … is considering another rule
change that would also shrink federal protection of small
streams, ecologists and lawyers say. The Corps said in its
proposal it is acting in response to the president’s order to
review regulations that burden energy development. Some of the
proposed changes will have essentially the same consequence as
the Trump administration’s contraction of the Clean Water
Burning rice straw after harvest was a traditional and
economical practice that was phased out in 2000. … The side
effect is it has created millions of acres of seasonal wetlands
in the rice-growing region of the state – and with a variety of
conservation contracts, provided additional income for growers
whose costs rose when straw burning was prohibited.
Clarity on which wetlands and waterways count as “waters of the
U.S.” or WOTUS, subject to federal oversight, has been elusive
for years. … Trump officials’ narrow definition … is facing
lawsuits in a half-dozen federal courts. New litigation is
guaranteed if Biden officials attempt to revert to the
Obama-era rule or craft their own program.
The Department of Water Resources has moved one step closer to
starting the Delta’s largest multi-benefit tidal restoration
and flood improvement project… Lookout Slough is in
unincorporated Solano County, near the border of Yolo County.
It is adjacent to additional tidal restoration efforts,
including Yolo Flyway Farms and Lower Yolo Ranch, to create a
contiguous wetland restoration complex spanning 16,000 acres in
the Cache Slough region of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
A former quarry in south Santa Clara County will be humming
with fish and wildlife in the coming months as birds, frogs,
turtles and a variety of other species benefit from a newly
created wetland habitat and a restored Llagas Creek.
As a rice farmer in Yolo County, Kim Gallagher should be used
to the sight of thousands of birds swarming her flooded fields
this time of year—but when she sees a flock take off,
scattering the sky with a confetti of fluttering wings, her
enjoyment is clear.
The Suisun Resource Conservation District has been awarded
$454,624 for the first phase of the Suisun Marsh Fish Screen
Rehabilitation Project. … American Canyon in July received a
$450,000 Measure AA grant for the American Canyon Wetland
The first phase of a highly touted tidal marsh recovery plan
was completed this week when a levee was breached and the
restored marsh area was reconnected to the San Francisco Bay
estuary for the first time since the late 1800s. The first
phase of the Montezuma Wetlands Restored Tidal Marsh Project
was completed Tuesday.
The Protecting America’s Wilderness Act (H.R. 2546) would
protect and restore over one million acres of public lands and
well over 500 miles of rivers throughout the state, including
in Northwest California’s wild lands and along the Central
In their statement, the scientists laid out the grim picture
that has emerged from thousands of peer-reviewed studies:
Climate change is inflicting extensive harm to aquatic
ecosystems, both in freshwater and the oceans. The degradation
of these ecosystems, which are among the most threatened on
Earth, is accelerating.
Many who oppose the restoration project say it includes a plan
to install new infrastructure adjacent to the wetlands. “The
last thing we need when we are in a crisis of climate change is
to build new fossil fuel infrastructure,” said representatives
for The Sierra Club Ballona Wetlands Restoration Committee. And
who is investing in fossil fuel use? SoCalGas owns a natural
gas facility adjacent to the wetlands.
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has awarded a grant of $700,000
to Audubon California towards the stabilization, restoration
and enhancement of wetlands near the town of Bombay Beach, on
the Salton Sea.
When driving over the Yolo Bypass in the winter, one can’t help
but notice the flooded fields. … Historically, the area used
to be wetlands and floodplain habitat, but now, farmers grow
rice there. After harvest, the fields are flooded to not only
help decompose the leftover rice straw but also, as a surprise
to many, recreate a surrogate habitat for many area wildlife,
most notably birds.
When the Trump administration finalized a key water rule last
year, EPA said it considers current federal wetlands inventory
data unreliable. The Army Corps of Engineers apparently didn’t
get the memo.
After the river was concretized, Indigenous People, activists,
and environmental organizations demanded the restoration of the
L.A. River and its tributaries back into a functioning natural
river ecosystem. Now with the climate crisis, we can no longer
afford to have a concretized river system that solely provides
The desire for crystal clean water is one that the president
repeats frequently, even dating to his 2016 presidential
campaign. Immaculate water, he has also said. Clear water.
Beautiful water. But the focus on appearances is superficial,
according to a number of water advocates and analysts.
Revisions to environmental rules that the administration has
pursued during the first term of the Trump presidency will be
detrimental to the nation’s waters, they said.
In the absence of appropriate management, excessive livestock
damage can occur in sensitive habitats such as riparian areas
that provide drinking water, forage, and microclimates sought
by free-ranging livestock. … Fortunately,
conservation-grazing management strategies can reduce the
likelihood of livestock damage to riparian areas.
Most states are doing a mediocre job – and some even a poor one
– of managing shorelines and preparing for sea-level rise,
according to a new study by the Surfrider Foundation.
California, on the other hand, is a “shining example” and has
excelled in responding to changes along the coast, earning the
only “A” grade in the nation — but the report found there are
still areas that need improvement…
Contra Costa County Flood Control Division officials told the
Oakley City Council recently that they’re still assessing the
issues of concern caused by beavers that built a dam in an area
of Marsh Creek near Creekside Park earlier this year. At the
time, the city and county received a lot of backlash from the
community and beyond because the county’s answer to the problem
was to kill two beavers that built the dam.
Now in its second year, a long-term project intends to learn
whether rice farming in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta can
succeed economically while helping to preserve the region’s
uniquely carbon-rich peat soils.
Working over the last year, construction crews expect to
complete a new 2-mile levee near Novato in the coming weeks. It
will allow bay waters to eventually reclaim nearly 1,600 acres,
or about 2.5 square miles, of former tidal marshes that had
been diked and drained for agriculture and development during
the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Local environmentalists won a key victory this week when the
regional water board approved a $1.25 million study focused on
transforming much of Mission Bay’s northeast corner into
marshland, which could help San Diego fight sea level rise.
In the world of groundwater recharge, not all dirt is created
equal. Where, when, how much and how fast water can best be
recharged into the Central Valley’s severely depleted aquifers
has become a critical question. A new tool aims to help answer
those questions at the field-by-field level or up to an entire
The coastal wetlands of Orange and Los Angeles counties, once
scorned for the obstacles they posed to the construction of
roads and buildings, have been squeezed by development to less
than 10% of their 19th-century size. But recently approved
funding for improvements at two Huntington Beach preserves
offer evidence of a growing recognition of the beneficial role
they play for man, flora and fauna alike.
For most of the past 48 years, the Clean Water Act produced
dramatic improvements in the quality of our nation’s rivers,
lakes and coastal waters. … Unfortunately, the Trump
administration’s unrelenting rollback of clean water
protections is stalling progress toward fixing these problems
and endangering a half-century’s worth of gains.
The solutions are not just about spending money, but changing
how we do coastal development — fewer expensive seawalls and
roads, and more “living shorelines” and coastal parks that can
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has taken a dramatic
step to encourage communities to use environmentally friendly
features such as wetlands for flood protection instead of
building sea walls and levees.
Join us as we guide you on a virtual journey deep into California’s most crucial water and ecological resource – the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The 720,000-acre network of islands and canals support the state’s two major water systems – the State Water Project and the Central Valley Project. The Delta and the connecting San Francisco Bay form the largest freshwater tidal estuary of its kind on the West coast.
Volunteer citizen scientists working with the League to Save
Lake Tahoe conducted surveys of Donner and Spooner lakes to
detect aquatic invasive species, and restored native wetland
habitat in Johnson Meadow in September. Both efforts are aimed
at preserving the Tahoe-Truckee region’s unique ecology.
As we have transitioned from summer to fall in the Sacramento
Valley, we are finishing the agronomic season and there is now
a focus on fall and winter operations on the Sacramento River.
Water resources managers and fish and wildlife agencies
continue to work together in the Sacramento River watershed to
serve water for multiple benefits, including two salmon runs
and the essential time for birds (and other species) migrating
along the Pacific Flyway.
Developing a lithium industry in California’s Salton Sea, an
area that experts think could supply more than a third of
lithium demand in the world today, could help set up a
multi-billion dollar domestic supply chain for electric vehicle
batteries, according to a new report from New Energy Nexus.
Naturally when I say, “cold water,” what comes to mind are
lakes, rivers, wetlands, delta, estuaries and even reservoirs.
These are the areas that I spend the most time fishing,
boating, swimming, rafting etc. However, our natural cold-water
resources include a few lesser-known components that are just
as important to the entire operating system.
A federal judge ruled Monday that a sprawling collage of salt
ponds in Redwood City is subject to protection under the Clean
Water Act — going against a previous decision by the
Environmental Protection Agency that would have eased
development along the bay.
Assessments of the worst-case scenario predict the Bay may rise
a damaging 1.9 feet by 2050 and as much as nearly 7 feet by
2100. Restoring even a fraction of the Bay’s lost wetlands
would provide long-lasting benefits.
Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday added his signature to a new law
that orders the formation of a commission to study the
feasibility of lithium extraction around the Salton Sea. Local
politicians hope the commission will lead to the creation of a
green economy around the state’s largest lake, which is a
geothermal hotspot. It was one of several bills focused on
California’s environment that Newsom dealt with this week.
In June, the Trump administration’s new version of which waters
are protected under the Clean Water Act took effect. The new
rule is an about-face from the Obama-era regulations, and
Arizona state regulators are trying to make sense of it.
Called the Three Creeks Parkway Restoration, the $9 million
project will yield two acres of floodplain and a canopy of
riparian trees set in nearly 4.5 acres of grassland and oak
woodland. Construction began in May and is scheduled for
completion at the end of the year…
The collaborative design process for the Franks Tract Futures
project brought initially skeptical local stakeholders on board
and is being hailed as a model for future initiatives. Yet
major uncertainties remain as interested parties explore the
challenges of implementing a complex redesign of a big chunk of
Clean air, clean water and a functioning ecosystem are
considered priceless. Yet the economic value of nature remains
elusive in cost-benefit analysis of climate policy regulations
and greenhouse-gas-reduction efforts. A study published Monday
in the journal Nature Sustainability incorporates those
insights from sustainability science into a classic model of
climate change costs.
Three Coachella Valley high schoolers kayaked across the Salton
Sea Saturday to raise awareness about the social and ecological
crisis unfolding as California’s largest lake continues to
shrink and toxic dust from its shores pollutes the air.
Although droughts may not garner as much attention as acute
extreme events like hurricanes, floods or fires, their
multidimensional effects are vast. … A multi-year drought in
California has seen the number of breeding waterfowl dip 46%
below average as wetlands shrink and dry up.
The proposed ecological wetland park at Alameda Point, known as
DePave Park, is another step closer to becoming a reality. On
Sept. 15, four members of the city council gave thumbs up to
moving forward with seeking a $2 million grant to pay for a
master planning process.
The absence of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the
Supreme Court this coming term is unlikely to change the
outcome of two looming battles over water rights and Endangered
Species Act records, but legal experts say her death will have
a lasting impact on environmental jurisprudence at the nation’s
A new study concludes that, by building dams, forming ponds,
and digging canals, beavers irrigate vast stream corridors and
create fireproof refuges in which plants and animals can
shelter. In some cases, the rodents’ engineering can even stop
fire in its tracks.
In 2012 a team of salmon researchers tried a wild idea: putting
pinky-sized Chinook on a rice field in the Yolo Bypass, a vast
engineered floodplain designed to protect the city of
Sacramento from inundation. … Now, after nearly a decade of
testing fish in fields, a new paper in San Francisco Estuary
and Watershed Science outlines lessons learned as well as next
steps in managing floodplains for salmon.
Floodplains were the historic rearing areas for juvenile
salmon, and the remaining floodplains in California are an
important food-rich habitat as present-day salmon grow and
attempt to survive their trip out to the ocean. We sat down
with Hailey Wright, a Department of Water Resources
environmental scientist, to discuss the salmon lifecycle and
her work designing and implementing projects in the Yolo
Over the years, these groups united against a single cause: the
Southern Nevada Water Authority’s “Groundwater Development
Project,” a proposal to pump 58 billion gallons of water a year
300 miles to Las Vegas from the remote rural valleys of Nevada
and Utah. … In May, their three decades of resistance to the
pipeline ended in victory: The project was terminated.
For years, a stretch of Chorro Creek near Hollister Peak ran
through active farmland, where its flow was diverted for
irrigation and its banks were shored up by levees, blocking the
water’s natural access to its floodplain. … After nearly two
decades of planning and fundraising, the Estuary Program and
its partners recently completed a major restoration of the
A top water regulator from New Mexico yesterday warned senators
that hardrock mines, wastewater facilities and other industrial
entities could face stricter environmental oversight as the
Trump administration’s Waters of the U.S., or WOTUS, rule takes
Along a Huntington Beach coastline dotted with oil rigs and a
power plant, one of California’s largest remaining saltwater
marshes has been a source of pride for local environmentalists.
But the marsh, known as the Bolsa Chica Wetlands, is endangered
despite a years-long struggle to pull together sufficient
public funding for its upkeep.
Responding to the lack of progress in 2017, the State Water
Resources Control Board ordered the California Natural
Resources Agency to adopt a 10-year plan to implement projects
to suppress the harmful dust and restore habitat. … But in
the three years since the water board’s order, progress has
been dismal, even though there is more than $350 million
available to implement the plan.
The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will hear
Wednesday from an Iowa farmer, a Florida developer and a New
Mexico regulator, who are expected to discuss the Trump
administration’s Waters of the U.S. rule and weigh in on the
environmental and public health issues raised by rolling back
As wildfires burn across California, temperatures hit record
highs, and communities cope with the COVID-19 crisis,
biologist Caroline Brady is helping respond to a different
disaster: the worst avian botulism outbreak that anyone can
remember at the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex.
Coal miners, stone quarrying companies, and other businesses
are rushing to lock down any exemptions to federal water
jurisdiction for at least five years, under changes the Trump
administration recently made to the nation’s water rule. … A
decision that might in some instances have taken multiple site
visits and nearly three years now can come as quickly as a day,
the data show.
At the August meeting of the Delta Independent Science Board,
the new members joined with the outgoing members for
reflections and discussion to bring the new members up to speed
on the Delta ISB’s ongoing work.
The idea was to lower the flows while temperatures were still
warm enough to dry out the caddis larvae. That required buy-in
from local merchants and the Bureau of Reclamation, local
tribes and others. They were able to do it, and on Aug. 27, the
first of two flow reductions took place. When the river
dropped, people pitched in for a day of river cleanup.
The San Francisco Bay-Delta is literally threatened from all
sides: rising sea levels from the ocean, disruptions to
sediment supply from upstream, and within the Bay-Delta itself,
development and other land use changes have left only a tiny
fraction (5%) of marshland untouched. … A recent study by
scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey used historical
streamflow and sediment data to predict what will happen to the
Bay-Delta under varying levels of climate change.
The California Natural Resources Agency announced it will be
hosting a new round of public engagement sessions in September
to get input to assist in the development of wildlife habitat
restoration and dust suppression projects for the Salton Sea
Management Program’s 10-year plan.
If current predictions hold, the entire Palo Alto Baylands
could be submerged by the middle of the century because of sea
level rise, a destructive predicament that would threaten both
the sensitive habitat and the critical infrastructure in the
nature preserve. To prepare for rising tides, the city is
moving ahead with the creation of a new Sea Level Adaptation
A federal judge took a no-nonsense approach Friday to a hearing
on the White House’s rewrite of the National Environmental
Policy Act, grilling conservation groups on how they’ll be
harmed and chiding the Justice Department for glossing over the
political motivations behind the rules.
Dams, diversions, and land conversion have substantially
altered California’s rivers and disrupted the processes that
sustain ecosystem health. The result is a crisis for native
fish and wildlife and the loss of many benefits we derive from
California EcoRestore is an initiative started in 2015 under
the Brown Administration with the ambitious goal of advancing
at least 30,000 acres of critical habitat restoration in the
Delta and Suisun Marsh by 2020. … At the August meeting of
the Central Valley Flood Protection Board, Bill Harrell, gave
an update on the Eco Restore program and the progress that has
been made over the past five years.
The owner of a Suisun Bay island violated the federal Clean
Water Act when he destroyed marshland by building a levee and
dumping dredged material while building duck-hunting ponds, a
federal judge ruled Wednesday. The ruling is the latest in a
years-long battle between regulators and John Sweeney, who owns
an island in Suisun Bay, a tidal channel and marsh area
northeast of San Francisco.
On Aug. 7, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers awarded a service
contract to Adanta, Inc. of Napa to expand and enhance an
existing wetlands on the Veterans Affairs (VA) property at
Alameda Point. The wetlands project is being implemented to
offset impacts to wetlands areas elsewhere on the VA property
where a health clinic, offices and a columbarium cemetery will
The California Natural Resources Agency has released a draft
project description for the Salton Sea Management Program Phase
I and announced a series of virtual public workshops for
community input. The project description identifies habitat
restoration and dust suppression projects to revitalize the
environment and protect public health.
The Trump administration is seeking to fast track environmental
reviews of dozens of major energy and infrastructure projects
during the COVID-19 pandemic… Projects targeted for quick
review include highway improvements in South Carolina, Georgia,
Florida and other states; the Lake Powell water pipeline in
Utah; wind farms in New Mexico and off the Massachusetts coast;
and mining projects in Nevada, Idaho, Colorado and Alaska.
Waters of the Delta are in the midst of a tug-of-war. If
California is not careful, the largest inland delta on the
western coast of the North American continent will be damaged.
Water is a Many Splendor’ed Thing brings you another water
relationship that has a personally significant impact to your
California rice growers wishing to participate in a
state-funded program to flood their fields for winter wildlife
habitat have until Sept. 14 to submit their requests to the
state. Growers who qualify this year will receive $15 per acre
to flood their rice fields.
The Clean Water Act previously allowed states to halt projects
that risk hurting their water quality, but that power was
scaled back by the EPA in June, a move Administrator Andrew
Wheeler said would “curb abuses of the Clean Water Act that
have held our nation’s energy infrastructure projects hostage.”
The latest suit argues the Trump administration is
inappropriately denying states veto power over major projects
that pose risks to their waterways.
As if a global pandemic was not enough, the tumultuous
legislative session comes to a close as much of the state is on
fire. Understandably, lawmakers had already significantly pared
down their legislative packages to focus on a response to
COVID-19. And, then last week many important bills on
environmental justice and natural resources stalled.
While the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex deals
with one of its biggest botulism outbreaks in recent history,
emergency water deliveries from the Klamath Project have
prevented the situation from worsening. The waterborne
bacterial illness, which causes paralysis and often leads to
death, has impacted more than 15 percent of the molting birds
currently on Tule Lake’s main sump.
California’s rivers and aquatic species are in trouble, but
restoration projects often get bogged down by lengthy
permitting processes. Sustainable Conservation has been at the
forefront of finding ways to speed up badly needed restoration
projects with improved permitting. We talked to Erika
Lovejoy—director of Sustainable Conservation’s Accelerating
Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge’s main open body of water,
Sump 1A, had been exceptionally low for weeks. The hot sun
baked the shallow water during the day, and warmer nighttime
temperatures ensured it stayed hot. Dormant bacteria awakened
on the lake’s fringe wetlands, carrying with them a paralyzing
and potentially fatal toxin. Beneath the cover of smoke began
the refuge’s worst botulism outbreak in years.
If Democrat Joe Biden wants to scrap the Trump administration’s
definition of which waters qualify for federal protection,
experts say he’ll face a heavy legal lift, lengthy rulemaking,
and an onslaught of opposition from industry, ranching and
Long-term fixes for the ever-shrinking Salton Sea remain
stalled as California Natural Resources Agency officials on
Wednesday revealed they have been unable to find an analyst to
study proposed solutions to a nearly two decades-old problem.
With up to $4,058,220 available, the program provides economic
incentives to landowners or lessees who agree to manage their
properties in accordance with a management plan developed
through a consultation with biologists from California
Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Comprehensive Wetland Habitat
Program for a two-year period.
The San Diego fairy shrimp, a miniscule, puddle-dwelling
crustacean that provides food for migrating birds, is nearing
extinction as humans continue to encroach on its wetlands
habitat. But a new approach to tracking the shrimp’s population
numbers may give conservationists a boost in protecting the
Last month, an international team of scientists, including
Berkeley Lab’s William Riley and Qing Zhu, published an update
on the global methane budget as part of the Global Carbon
Project. … They built one of the computer models that allows
scientists to quantify these methane emissions from wetlands at
The San Francisco Estuary is a dynamic and altered estuary that
supports a high diversity of fishes, both native and
non-native. … Since the 1950s, various agencies and UC Davis
have established long-term surveys to track the status of fish
populations. These surveys help scientists understand how
fishes are responding to natural- and human-caused changes to
The dredging is taking place in a vast sewage treatment pond.
And the material being removed is biosolids, which is another
way of saying sewage sludge. About 3,500 tons of biosolids will
be piped from the pond this summer to be dewatered. It is
ultimately trucked a short distance and spread over a NapaSan
field where a farmer grows sorghum.
A stretch of concrete and asphalt that was once an aircraft
taxiway will be removed so the site along San Francisco Bay can
be converted to a wetlands park, according to a proposal the
city is considering.
The Navigable Waters Protection Rule … has redefined “waters
of the U.S.” (WOTUS) to restrict federal protection of
vulnerable waters. … Responding to this unprecedented
distortion of science and rollback in water protections, which
went into effect nationwide on 22 June, will require
coordinated efforts among scientists, lawmakers, and resource
Like other environmental regulations, WOTUS was necessarily
complex and grounded in science. But the reason for it was
simple: keep U.S. waters clean. So what could be so bad about a
law to stop water pollution that the Trump administration would
decide to repeal it?
After years marked by a historic statewide drought and
devastating floods around downtown San Jose, Santa Clara
County’s largest water provider has decided to ask voters to
approve a parcel tax to pay for a wide variety of projects,
from flood control to creek restoration, along with some costs
of rebuilding the county’s largest dam at Anderson Reservoir.
If built, it would … pump groundwater into four new
reservoirs … Tribal members and environmentalists say the
project would flood several miles of canyons sacred to the
Navajo; risk damaging cultural sites for several tribes; draw
vast amounts of critical groundwater; potentially harm habitats
for plants and animals, including some endangered species; and
risk adverse effects for waterways leading into the Grand
Six former Environmental Protection Agency
chiefs [who served under Republican and Democratic
presidents] are calling for an agency reset after President
Trump’s regulation-removing, industry-minded first term,
backing a detailed plan by former EPA staffers that ranges from
renouncing political influence in regulation to boosting
climate-friendly electric vehicles.
A group dedicated to protecting the Ballona Wetlands is among
the plaintiffs in a lawsuit alleging millions of dollars in
public funds have been misused for what they claim is a
“deceptive” plan to bulldoze the ecological reserve under the
guise of being a restoration effort.
Under the Aug. 3 proposal, companies would no longer be
required to notify the Army Corps if the pipelines they lay
require clearing of forested wetlands, or building access roads
longer than 500 feet with fill material dredged from streams or
wetlands or with impervious materials.
The Oregon Cattlemen’s Association sued the EPA and the U.S.
Army Corps of Engineers in May for bringing non-navigable,
small streams and wetlands under Clean Water Act protection in
the Navigable Waters Protection Rule. Judge Michael W. Mosman,
ruling from the bench on a preliminary injunction sought
against the water rule, dismissed the claims without prejudice.
The study, conducted by the University of California, Berkeley,
examined 306,718 acres of California Rangeland Trust’s
conservation easements across the state to explore both the
environmental and monetary value of preserving California’s
When Brenda Goeden first started working on mud, silt, and sand
in the San Francisco Bay two decades ago, dredgers and
contractors couldn’t get rid of all the sediment they excavated
fast enough. … But today sediment is a hot commodity, as
restorationists and developers scramble to elevate salt marshes
and building sites before rising tides claim them. Now, a new
plan is in the works to optimize allocation of this critical
When species are endangered, the Endangered Species Act
requires the government to set aside habitat deemed critical
for its recovery. But environmental groups say the new
definition being proposed by the Fish and Wildlife Service will
allow the agency to block setting aside any land that isn’t
currently habitat but might be needed in the future,
particularly as the climate changes.
A Marin County Superior Court judge rejected a petition filed
by a group of San Geronimo residents and golfers to halt creek
restoration work in the former San Geronimo Golf Course. The
ten residents and golfers, known as the San Geronimo Heritage
Alliance, filed the lawsuit in July alleging the creek
restoration work is illegal.
A legal battle with far-reaching consequences for industry and
ecosystems kicked off Wednesday with the filing of a federal
lawsuit over the Trump administration’s revamp of a
longstanding law that requires extensive environmental reviews
for road, industry and building projects.
Nearly 230 wildlife species depend on Sacramento Valley rice
fields for food and a resting place, including the giant
gartersnake, a threatened species. Although it has “giant” in
its name, this creature is, at most, five-feet long. These
snakes are heavily dependent on rice fields for their survival;
having lost most of their earlier habitat – traditional
On July 16, 2020, the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ)
published its highly anticipated final rule to improve its
National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) regulations. The
update, which largely mirrors the proposed rule, is the first
comprehensive amendment to the regulations since their original
publication in 1978.
More than 50,000 ducklings and other newborn waterfowl and
shorebirds were saved from certain deaths this week after an
emergency delivery of water to the Klamath Basin National
Wildlife Refuge, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
The issue is new to the Environmental Protection Agency’s
Office of Inspector General’s periodic list of top management
challenges facing the agency, underscoring its emergence as a
leading national concern. The OIG called on the agency to
strengthen its federal leadership role, continue to build an
environmental justice strategic plan, and consider the impact
of “all activities on environmental justice communities in
actions revoked and taken by the agency as a whole.”
A century ago, the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta was a massive
wetland habitat. The construction of levees over the past 100
years has dried out these wetlands and converted them into
farmland, eliminating 95 percent of this important aquatic
habitat for fish. But scientists are finding out that given the
right conditions, nature can reclaim itself.
Despite their brief existence … the pools, and the fairy
shrimp they harbor are an important feature of the new
preserve. The conservancy acquired Mountain Meadow Preserve, on
hilltops off of Interstate 15, about two years ago. At that
time, the 693-acre site was a deserted orchard, dotted with
dilapidated agricultural sheds and withered avocado groves.
Veronica Wunderlich is a Department of Water Resources senior
environmental scientist with a focus in herpetology – the study
of reptiles and amphibians. Below, Veronica discusses how she
got started in herpetology –she even had snakes as pets as a
kid, her current work, and how to translate a passion and
interest in wildlife into a career – “If you really love the
creatures you work with, you will never regret working with
Attorneys general in 20 states [including California] and the
District of Columbia sued the Trump administration on Tuesday,
alleging that new federal rules undermine their ability to
protect rivers, lakes and streams within their borders. They
say that new final rules issued last week by the Environmental
Protection Agency alter a practice dating back more than 30
years giving state governments the authority to review, block
or put conditions on federally permitted water projects.
Out of sight and out of mind to most
people, the Salton Sea in California’s far southeast corner has
challenged policymakers and local agencies alike to save the
desert lake from becoming a fetid, hyper-saline water body
inhospitable to wildlife and surrounded by clouds of choking
The sea’s problems stretch beyond its boundaries in Imperial and
Riverside counties and threaten to undermine multistate
management of the Colorado River. A 2019 Drought Contingency Plan for the
Lower Colorado River Basin was briefly stalled when the Imperial
Irrigation District, holding the river’s largest water
allocation, balked at participating in the plan because, the
district said, it ignored the problems of the Salton Sea.
“I secured provisions in this bill to authorize and expedite
construction of flood protection and aquatic ecosystem
restoration projects, address harmful algal blooms in the
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, and give local agencies greater
flexibility in using federal Army Corps funds to meet local
As more people enjoy local trails this summer, they may notice
many of Valley Water’s percolation ponds in Santa Clara County
are empty and dry. There’s no reason to be alarmed. In fact,
the absence of water in many of the 100 percolation ponds owned
by Valley Water is a sign that our underground water basins are
mostly full and healthy.
California’s state budget includes $47 million to help the
Salton Sea. The new budget was signed by Governor Newsom last
month. … News Channel 3’s Madison Weil spoke with Phil
Rosentrater, the executive director of the Salton Sea
Authority, to see how the new funds will be used.
The EPA is facing two separate challenges from environmental
groups over its water rule that narrows the ability of states
to veto energy infrastructure projects such as oil and gas
pipelines if they adversely affect water quality.
A total of 352 facilities, including fossil fuel companies,
water treatment plants and schools, made use of the EPA’s
relaxation of Clean Water Act requirements, according to a list
the agency shared with The Hill. … Environmentalists are
raising alarms over the number of facilities that aren’t
monitoring their pollution levels, saying the damage could last
well beyond the Aug. 31 expiration date of the temporary
A group of wildlife biologists in Northern California took
another step in the conservation effort of the threatened
Foothill yellow-legged frogs on June 30, releasing 115 of the
frogs into the Feather River in Plumas National Forest.
According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the release
marks the first release of captive-reared, Foothill
yellow-legged frogs into the wild.
Rollbacks of the Clean Water Act and the executive order to
suspend the National Environmental Policy Act are meant to save
costs and cut red tape. However, Jeremy Schewe, professional
wetland scientist, explains these efforts will ultimately lead
to far greater expense to business, society, and the planet,
especially when combined with the House proposed infrastructure
Adapting to climate change, coupled with the need to address
aging infrastructure, population growth, and degraded
ecosystems, requires significant investment in natural and
built water systems. These investments present a significant
opportunity to support not only water, but to provide economic,
social, and environmental benefits.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, Maryland Attorney
General Brian Frosh, and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura
Healey today led a multistate coalition in expressing
opposition to President Trump’s recently signed executive order
instructing federal agencies to use emergency authority to
bypass critical environmental review and permitting processes
for infrastructure projects.
Degraded meadows and their streams can be rehabilitated using a
“pond and plug” technique to restore the floodplain function.
This strategy aims to elevate groundwater levels in the dry
season by spreading large flows across the floodplain. The pond
and plug treatment improves water quality, soil moisture, and
wetland vegetation – improvements that are extremely beneficial
to birds and other wildlife.
The Environmental Protection Agency has again been sued over
its rollback of Obama-era waterway protections. On Thursday,
the Environmental Integrity Project, on behalf of four other
environmental groups, sued the agency, claiming that the new
rule conflicts with the Clean Water Act and “disregards”
science “without any rational, let alone ‘reasonable,’
The project — managed jointly by California Division of Fish
and Wildlife, the Department of Water Resources and the
Department of Parks and Recreation — seeks to make changes in
Franks Tract with the goal of improving water quality,
providing enhanced recreational opportunities and improving the
ecology for the benefit of native and desirable wildlife.
The American Southwest provides a last stronghold for the
yellow-billed cuckoo, which was officially listed under the
Endangered Species Act as threatened in 2014. This February,
the US Fish and Wildlife Service published a list of proposed
protected areas that trace the curls and curves of rivers and
streams in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Texas, and
Major California cities say they’ll use their share of a $650
million settlement to clean up the now-banned chemical PCB from
bays, lakes and other waterways polluted for decades. The giant
chemical company Monsanto announced a tentative agreement
Wednesday with government entities that had filed suit since
2015 over waterways and estuaries they say were polluted.
A coalition of tribal governments, environmentalists and labor
advocates has sued to stop implementation of a new federal rule
that weakens protections for streams and wetlands. The
Environmental Protection Agency’s new Navigable Waters
Protection Rule, which which took effect on Monday, rolls back
clean-water regulation of intermittent waterways, arroyos and
Encouraged by a recently vetted new method for creating carbon
offsets from wetlands, a flurry of new climate adaptation
projects on publicly owned islands strewn along the central
Delta corridor aim to defend against sea-level rise, restore
habitat, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
California officials have parried federal moves with actions of
their own — a state law enshrining protection for migratory
birds and a new state regulation setting definitions that
expand protection to smaller wetlands and seasonal waterways.
California’s responses are yet another maneuver in the feud
between Sacramento and Washington, D.C.
A federal Judge in California on Friday rejected a request for
a nationwide injunction of the rule. Hours later, a federal
Judge in Colorado agreed to freeze the federal rule within that
state. The California court’s decision is a major blow to
environmentalists and states that had hoped to block the
Navigable Waters Protection Rule across the country before it
takes effect Monday.
U.S. District Court Judge Richard Seeborg presided over a
lengthy and combative hearing that featured attorneys from the
state of California making the case that the Trump-era EPA
acted contrary to its fundamental mission when it exempted
ephemeral streams and wetlands from protections afforded by the
Clean Water Act.
A smidge over 200 acres, the Wright Wetland Preserve is easily
the largest in the trust’s portfolio. Its terrain ranges from
lake to valley oak woodland with everything from native
wetland, freshwater marsh and upland pasture included. The
property is partially bordered by Manning Creek, an important
breeding ground for an endemic and threatened fish species, the
Clear Lake hitch.
Driving on Highway 101 from the South Bay, up the Peninsula,
commuters zoom by nearly invisible infrastructure keeping the
highway and nearby communities dry. Beyond the highway, at the
edge of the San Francisco Bay, are levees and tide gates
protecting roads and neighborhoods against high tides and storm
flooding. Unless you visit the bay lands to walk the levee
trails, you might never know these important structures exist.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way families, educators
and students can experience state parks — through expanded
online programs. … Education coordinator Anne Marie Tipton
says the Tijuana River National Estuarine Reserve’s
virtual field trips teach classrooms around the state about the
estuary’s role in the environment.
Although the Clean Water Act will still protect heavily used
waterways in Nevada, including the Colorado River and the
Truckee River, it excludes many wetlands and most seasonal
streams. As a result, the rule has set off a flurry of legal
challenges from environmental groups. And in recent months,
several Democrat-led Western states, including Colorado,
California and New Mexico, have sued the Trump administration
to challenge the final rule. Nevada has not joined those suits.
San Francisco Bay is the largest estuary on the West Coast, and
in recent years much effort has been put into restoring tidal
marsh habitat in the Bay. … FISHBIO was recently invited to
tour one such project in the North Bay, where we had the
opportunity to use our ARIS sonar camera to examine the fish
community in the restored area.