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the rotten egg smell of hydrogen sulfi de from the Sea turned up noses as far away as Orange and Ventura counties. T e state’s vision for the Sea is repre- sented through eff orts such as the Species Conservation Habitat Project (SCHP) planning process, which began in 2007 to design 3,800 acres of saline aquatic ponds to support fi sh and birds by 2014. “We’ve nearly completed the environ-


mental review process [for 800 acres], which is not an easy hurdle to jump through,” Bright said, adding that the ad- ditional 3,000 acres has been identifi ed as “shovel-ready if we can fi nd the resources.” T e ponds are designed to accom-


modate fi sh-eating birds such as the American white pelican. “For many of these species, a signifi cant proportion of their population uses the Sea. If the amount of habitat used by these species at the Sea were substantially reduced, some individuals could use other habitats


Aerial view of the Salton Sea.


Watch a KMIR News video about Assemblyman Perez’ “Save Our Sea” campaign


in the region up to their capacity, but it is unlikely that all of the birds using the Sea could fi nd suitable habitat elsewhere because it is sparsely available in this geographic region,” the SCHP environ- mental impact report says. T e habitat ponds “are 100 percent scalable throughout the region,” meaning that as funds come in, they can be lo- cated elsewhere beyond the initial 3,800 acres, Bright said. He acknowledged that the SCHP “by itself isn’t going to solve the problem” when the Sea’s infl ow is reduced by the QSA.


“So what we need to do is look to additional future projects,” Bright said. “We fi gured that with $800 million to $900 million, you could create 6,000 acres of habitat and 28,000 acres of air quality management areas. T at would represent signifi cant progress in meet- ing the needs of protecting this region against the air quality and habitat reali- ties that will be faced when the water is reduced.” T e SCHP is designed to help sustain the many bird species that count on the Salton Sea as a place of sustenance along the Pacifi c Flyway, the north-south migratory route. T e Sea’s rising salinity and its detrimental eff ect on tilapia (a food supply for birds) spurred the forma- tion of the SCHP. Kent Nelson, Salton Sea program manager with the Department of Water Resources, said the idea is to establish habitat ponds with stable salinity using a combination of agricultural drain water and water from the Sea to evaluate whether the fi sh populations necessary to support birds can be successfully created and managed. Construction is slated to begin in 2014. Nelson, who noted the SCHP “does


not control salinity in the Sea itself,” said the project’s currently funded 640 acres “will not be enough to provide conserva- tion for the numbers of migratory birds we are hoping for but it is a fi rst step in proving those design technologies.” He said he hopes the SCHP can be “the catalyst project that gets interest groups focused on doing more of this kind of habitat restoration work at the Salton Sea.”


T e SCHP “could complement the existing and planned habitat restora- tion projects at the Salton Sea, such as the very successful wetlands project on Torres-Martinez tribal land near the Whitewater River and the 600-plus acre Red Hill Bay project, near the mouth of the Alamo River,” said Michael Cohen, senior research associate with the Pacifi c Institute. “Many groups are working to build habitat at the Sea,” Cohen said. “T e


6 • Colorado River Project • River Report • Summer 2013


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