Salton Sea

Audubon California is helping shape the future of this remarkable place for birds.

White Pelicans at the Salton Sea. Photo: Robin L

The Salton Sea is one of the most important places for birds in North America and is in danger of losing its ecological value. If it does, we will lose a vital part of the Pacific Flyway and face a toxic dust bowl that will threaten public health for more than a million Californians.

As part of the Colorado River Delta, the sea filled and dried for thousands of years prior to its current, 35-mile-long incarnation, which came into existence as the result of a massive flood of the Colorado River in 1905. The 350-square-mile sea has partially replaced wetland habitat lost to agricultural and urban conversion in the Colorado River Delta, California’s coast, and the San Joaquin Valley.

The sea is a globally significant Important Bird Area. For more than a century, the sea has served as a major nesting, wintering, and stopover site for millions of birds of more than 400 species. Today, tiny Eared Grebes winter by the thousands in rafts far out on its surface. American White Pelicans roost on mudflats and fish for tilapia in its shallows.

Recently, its water level dropped to the point that colonial seabirds began abandoning nesting sites en masse in 2013, and shallow, marshy habitat areas at the sea’s edge have begun to rapidly vanish, particularly at the south end. And in 2017, inputs of Colorado River water that have been maintaining a minimum sea level are scheduled to end, as more water is transferred from local agricultural uses to urban uses on the coast. As less water flows into the sea, it will shrink considerably, becoming more saline and eventually inhospitable to birds, fish, and insects.

Audubon California has the opportunity to help address some of the immense challenges of the Salton Sea. 

Birds of the Salton Sea
Salton Sea

Birds of the Salton Sea

More than 400 species of birds come to the Salton Sea in California.

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Crisis looming at the Salton Sea
Salton Sea

Crisis at the Salton Sea

Water losses could soon present major problems for birds at the Salton Sea.

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Audubon's role at the Salton Sea
Salton Sea

Audubon at the Salton Sea

Audubon is speaking out for the birds in this troubled ecosystem.

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New online map for birding the Salton Sea
Audublog

Explore the birds of the Salton Sea

New interactive map shows you the best places to view birds at the Salton Sea.

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Roadmap for protecting bird habitat at the Salton Sea
Salton Sea

Roadmap for protecting bird habitat at the Salton Sea

Research about how much habitat -- and what kind -- birds are using at the Salton Sea should guide restoration.

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Local students help migratory shorebirds of the Salton Sea
Audublog

Local students help migratory shorebirds of the Salton Sea

San Diego Audubon Society recently partnered with an elementary school to educate students about birds that rely on the Salton Sea.

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More about the Salton Sea

Talking shorebirds and action at the Salton Sea

Birds at the Salton Sea. Photo by Andrea Jones

Great article from the The Western Hemispher Reserve Shorebird Network about the need for action at the Salton Sea with some input from Audubon California's, Andrea Jones. Check out the story here.  

Our own Andrea Jones stopped by the Red Hill Bay restoration project at the Salton Sea day before yesterday. Doesn't look much like bird habitat at the moment, but our fingers are crossed that this will soon be replaced by much-needed wetland habitat.

California voters approve Proposition 68
Salton Sea

California voters approve Proposition 68

— $4 billion bond measure supported by Audubon will fund programs for safe parks, clean water, natural resources protection, climate change preparedness, and relief for the Salton Sea

Audubon California's Frank Ruiz today speaks at a rally for Prop 68 at an event in Brawley. The event was organized by Assembly Member Eduardo Garcia.

Where have all the Salton Sea's Eared Grebes gone?
Salton Sea

Where have all the Salton Sea's Eared Grebes gone?

The Salton Sea was once a stopover for more than 90% of all Eared Grebes, but now there are few to be found there.

Los Angeles Times notes that patience is running out at the Salton Sea

The Los Angeles Times has a strong story out today about how patience is running out for the state to make good on its promises at the Salton Sea:

Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia watched with ill-disguised frustration as a hearing aimed at expediting state projects to restore habitat and control dust storms at the shrinking Salton Sea instead dissolved into discussion of why the efforts were falling further behind schedule.

"We have a plan, we have money, there is additional money lined up, and we have a constituency — myself included — that is running out of patience," Garcia (D-Coachella), chairman of the Assembly Committee on Water, Parks and Wildlife, said.

Statement from Audubon California following Assembly Committee hearing on the Salton Sea
Salton Sea

Statement from Audubon California following Assembly Committee hearing on the Salton Sea

— Members of the Assembly Water, Parks, and Wildlife Committee today grilled state officials on the lack of progress on completing habitat restoration and dust control projects.
Making the case for urgent action at the Salton Sea with Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom
Salton Sea

Making the case for urgent action at the Salton Sea with Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom

A recent tour of the Salton Sea provided a great opportunity to highlight the need for habitat restoration and dust control.

KMIR-TV launches Salton Sea series

Local television station KMIR today launched the first in a series of pieces about the Salton Sea. Today's piece is about the history of the Sea. Learn more about our efforts to find a solution at the Salton Sea here.

Desert Sun Ed Board lashes out at state for Salton Sea delays

Clearly, the Desert Sun has had it with the state's inability to get projects moving at the Salton Sea:

This harkens to the years of “one more study is needed” that we’d wearily grown accustomed to as we witnessed the sea’s long decline, which shifted into overdrive with the end of Colorado River water inflows at the close of 2017.

Still, it is shocking to hear this type of refrain so shortly after the state finally stepped up with its plan to fulfill its commitment to sea restoration under the 2003 Quantification Settlement Agreement that has shifted the water that had been replenishing the sea to thirsty urban customers.

Get to work, folks. Promises were made and the state cannot let the now more-rapidly receding sea spiral into an ecological and environmental disaster which will have effects far beyond its own shores.

How you can help, right now