Water is of vital importance to the survival of California’s birds and the habitats that support them.
Snow Geese at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge. Photo: Scott Flaherty/USFWS
California in 2016 entered its fifth straight year of drought, and the ramifications for birds and people are considerable.
Water, of course, is fundamental to our lives, our communities, and our economy. Public policy around water allocations and usage is serious business. Water is also of vital importance to the survival of California’s birds and the habitats that support them. That’s why Audubon California has been at the forefront: advocating for birds during important policy discussions around the recent water bond, drought response, and water allocations to critical wildlife refuges.
The National Audubon Society new strategic plan creates an initiative around water that takes into account its growing importance in our organization’s ongoing efforts to safeguard birds. Nowhere is that focus more apparent than in California, where water is at the center of several important initiatives.
Below you will find links to the important work that Audubon California is doing around water and birds.
Audubon California's Khara Strum recently took to Capital Public radio to talk about migratory birds in the Central Valley, and particularly how they use agricultural fields as surrogate habitat. Listen to the interview here.
Over the objections of Audubon California and other conservation organizations, Congress over the weekend passed major water infrastructure legislation that included last-minute language that has the potential to undermine the Endangered Species Act and destabilize the wetland habitat that millions of birds need to survive.
The issue was difficult, because members of Congress were eager to pass the larger Water Resources Development Act that contained vital funding for projects around the country, and this controversial language was inserted into the bill in the last few days, giving representatives very little time to remove it.
More than 3,700 Audubon activists joined the chorus objecting to the language, but the language still passed.
From the State Water Resources Control Board:
The State Water Resources Control Board today announced that urban Californians’ monthly water conservation declined to 17.7 percent in August, down from 27 percent savings in August 2015, raising concerns that some water suppliers are abandoning their focus on conservation as California heads into a possible sixth drought year.
“The statewide August conservation results raise questions, and we are examining the data to understand why some areas slipped more than others,” said State Water Board Chair Felicia Marcus. “Are we seeing relaxation of conservation messaging and programs, or are we seeing abandonment of programs? One may be appropriate, the other is not. It’s a mixed picture. Many communities who certified that they didn’t ‘need’ to conserve are still conserving up a storm, while others have slipped more than seems prudent.”
Marcus added: “While last year’s rain and snow brought a respite for urban California, we are still in drought, and we can’t know what this winter will bring. What we do know is that climate change will continue to make our water years even more unpredictable, so we need to retain our conservation habits for the long term, rain or shine, drought or no drought.”
Audubon California News comes to your email inbox every month with updates on our activities throughout the state, as well as other important conservation news.