A series of programs is under way to restore wetlands, the newest starting this week. The Department of Water Resources will break ground Wednesday at Dutch Slough in Oakley for what DWR calls its largest tidal wetlands restoration project — nearly 1,200 acres — in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. Other projects by other agencies are transforming salt ponds to wetlands in the Napa-Sonoma Marsh and along South San Francisco Bay.
A Marin Audubon Society-led marsh restoration project in San Rafael’s Canal area seeks to pack a double punch on the environmental front by both restoring some of the state’s dwindling wetland habitat and bolstering defenses against sea level rise. The project at the 20-acre Tiscornia Marsh near Pickleweed Park is in its early planning and fundraising stages, but has already gained widespread support among San Rafael officials and departments.
California voters may be feeling a sense of deja vu when they consider Proposition 3, an $8.9 billion water bond on the November ballot to fund a long list of water projects — from repairing Oroville Dam to restoring Bay Area wetlands to helping Central Valley farmers recharge depleted groundwater. Didn’t the voters recently approve a big water bond? Maybe two of them? Yes. And yes.
Firefighters have mostly surrounded a smoky grass fire in Solano County but the blaze moved into marshland Monday, and officials said it could take a week to extinguish the flames. The Branscombe Fire, near Suisun City, has consumed about 4,700 acres and continues to burn on Grizzly Island, a state wildlife area that features natural tidal wetlands and artificially diked marshes.
The second year of a program to improve conditions for the endangered delta smelt shows promise in creating a bloom in the plankton that nourish the imperiled fish. State and federal water leaders were joined Monday by Sacramento Valley farmers and water providers along the banks of the Yolo Bypass to hail the importance of the Delta Smelt Resiliency Strategy — a multipronged effort around restoring wetland habitat across the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to bolster the smelt population.
As Congressman Jimmy Panetta stepped up on the podium at a ceremony last week at Hester Marsh, pelicans glided behind him to a landing near bobbing otters. The flurry of wildlife underlined Panetta’s message of just how crucial wetland habitat is. “We want to show the importance of Elkhorn Slough not just to the Central Coast, but to the world,” Panetta told the crowd of scientists, activists, and politicians.
A proposal that federal officials said was intended to simplify federal water laws has instead been interpreted to do the opposite – and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is scrambling to defend itself to agriculture and other industries.
A recently completed inventory of tricolored blackbirds has found a steep drop in the birds’ spiraling population statewide, with scientists worrying that this year’s drought will lessen future populations.
“California’s Central Valley hosts millions of migrating shorebirds. It’s a critical stopping point on migration route that runs thousands of miles. But the drought could make it difficult for birds to find a haven.”
“The Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today [April 24] they have signed a Record of Decision for a comprehensive, 30-year plan to restore and enhance Suisun Marsh, a critical part of the San Francisco Bay/Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta estuary ecosystem.”