New state budget includes more than $80 million for Salton Sea restoration effort

American White Pelicans at the Salton Sea. Photo: Socaltimes via Flickr/creative commons

Conservation groups including Audubon California hope that more than $80 million included in the recently-approved state budget will be the first step in a longer, more substantial commitment from the Legislature to addressing the developing environmental crisis at the Salton Sea. The $80.5 million for planning and restoration at the Salton Sea, part of the $167 billion state budget, will ultimately come from Proposition 1 funds approved by voters in 2014.

While the new funding marks the largest amount that the State of California has ever contributed to restoration at the Salton Sea, it is nonetheless only a fraction of the several billion dollars that will be needed to stabilize the situation there.

The funding will help the state pay for the development of a long-term management plan that seeks to address the problems created by reduced water deliveries to California’s largest inland lake. As the Salton Sea shrinks in the coming years, it is expected to have serious ramifications for the more the 400 species of birds that rely on its habitat. Less water will also result in the exposure of hundreds of acres of plays, creating a toxic dust and a serious public health hazard.

Money will also jump-start restoration of habitat along the edge of the lake, creating infrastructure to move water to a number of habitat areas.

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