It was 2006 when Andrea Jones went to the Salton Sea for the first time. She was brought there by her new Audubon colleagues who wanted to see a vagrant Piping Plover. What was funny about the situation was that she had just moved to California from Massachusetts, and she was certain she had left Piping Plovers, an east coast shorebird, far behind her.
Andrea is now Audubon California’s director of bird conservation and it was this new role that brought her back to the Salton Sea in 2013, where she was confronted by partners from Defenders of Wildlife and the Pacific Institute.
“They were concerned about the updated Imperial Valley Irrigation District’s restoration plan and its potential impact on birds,” explains Andrea. “They said to me, ‘we need Audubon.’”
True to form, Andrea dove right in, pulling an internal team together and joining the established coalition of NGOs. She was driven by the fact that colonial seabirds had already began abandoning nesting sites. The group was further bolstered when the Salton Sea was incorporated into Audubon’s larger work to save habitat in the Colorado River Basin.
The Audubon Western Rivers Action Network has provided training for Audubon chapters and allies on how to advocate for the Salton Sea. These activists are providing the boots on the ground by attending every public forum and speaking on behalf of Audubon’s interests. Their message to the State of California is simple – birds need the Salton Sea.
“White Pelicans, Eared Grebes and literally hundreds of other species rely on a healthy Salton Sea because all other historic bodies of water are gone” says Jones. “We can’t ignore this place if we’re serious about flyway-level conservation.”
Want to attend a Salton Sea workshop? Find out when the next one is being held http://resources.ca.gov/salton-sea/. Or get in contact with your local chapter -- Sea & Sage Audubon Society, San Bernardino Audubon Society, and San Diego Audubon Society all have established Salton Sea groups.