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Audubon California: Newsom Expansion of Drought Declaration Means Badly-Needed Water for Migratory Birds

“The Governor and stakeholders need to shift gears and manage for drought as the new normal, rather than an emergency that we address every few years.”

(Sacramento, Calif., May 10, 2021)—California Governor Gavin Newsom today expanded a declaration of drought emergency to counties encompassing the watersheds of the Klamath River, Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and Tulare Lake, bringing nearly 30 percent of the state under a drought declaration. The proclamation includes substantial financial investments to improve the state’s resilience to the ongoing drought. With record-low snow pack and summer quickly approaching, the state’s people, wildlife, and natural areas will again face water shortages in essential water supplies.

“California is facing another historic drought, which is already harming communities, birds, fish, and other natural resources in the state,” said Sarah Rose, executive director of Audubon California. “Governor Newsom’s declaration will ensure that the state prioritizes much-needed improvements to the state’s water infrastructure and management to  reduce negative impacts from the drought.”

The Klamath, Sacramento, San Joaquin, and Tulare Lake watersheds are essential stopover and breeding sites for migratory birds and are among the areas in the state hit hardest by the drought. These areas also sustain endangered fish populations of historic importance to Indigenous groups and include many communities that lost access to clean and affordable water during the last drought, continuing to suffer chronic water shortages. 

“California has already lost 95 percent of its inland wetland due to development and prior water diversions, and the environment has consistently been deprioritized to receive essential water,” said Mike Lynes, director of Public Policy for Audubon California. “Just about every year is a drought year for communities that lack adequate water supply systems and for sensitive bird and fish species that depend on rivers and wetlands throughout the state.”

“Today’s announcement is a good step, but a changing climate means that droughts will become more frequent and more severe. The governor and stakeholders need to shift gears and manage for drought as the new normal, rather than an emergency that we address every few years,” said Lynes. “The state needs to prioritize delivering clean and affordable drinking water to every person in the state and protecting the state’s rapidly declining biodiversity, which will require water conservation measures and right-sizing other water uses to achieve long-term balance and sustainability.”

Jason Howe,; 415-595-9245

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About Audubon
The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow. Audubon works throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education, and on-the-ground conservation. State programs, nature centers, chapters, and partners give Audubon an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire, and unite diverse communities in conservation action. A nonprofit conservation organization since 1905, Audubon believes in a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Learn more at and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @audubonsociety.

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