Bombay Beach, Calif. (Oct. 27, 2020) – The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has awarded a grant of $700,000 to Audubon California towards the stabilization, restoration and enhancement of wetlands near the town of Bombay Beach, on the Salton Sea. The area already hosts a number of “emergent wetlands,” formed by flows from nearby springs. These incidental wetlands, nearby saline wetlands and brackish pools have become home to species including the Yuma Ridgway’s Rail, American Avocet, Northern Pintail and possibly Desert Pupfish.
“The species that are already arriving to use this area, even without formal restoration or management of the habitat, show that nature takes advantage of even the smallest opportunity,” said Andrea Jones, director of bird conservation for Audubon California. “Unfortunately, that opportunity at Bombay Beach will stay small without some major help. This grant will help us control the invasive tamarisk trees which choke out native plants, protect these wetlands from storm runoff, control dust and create badly-needed habitat for birds.”
The Bombay Wetlands project will help stabilize and enhance the various emergent and saline wetland and playa habitats. Berms will retain water within wetlands, which can then be released onto adjacent playa areas to control dust and help protect human health. The project will also seeks to include outdoor recreation opportunities and serve as a model for other multi-purpose restoration efforts around the Sea. Building of habitat at the Salton Sea is important for the more than300 species of resident and migratory birds that rely on the Sea as a place to stop, rest, refuel or raise young. With little other similar wetland habitat left along the Pacific Flyway, ensuring sufficient habitat at the Salton Sea for these birds is essential.
"Reclamation continues to work with partners at the Salton Sea to fund critical work that protects human health and creates the wildlife habitat that makes the Sea an invaluable resource along the Pacific Flyway," said acting Reclamation Lower Colorado Basin Regional Director Stacy Wade. "Our collaboration with Audubon on the Bombay Beach project is an example of how organizations and government agencies can come together and provide the resources and expertise necessary to design and implement complex projects compatible with the California Natural Resources Agency's goals for Sea restoration."
Some 6,000 acres of newly formed wetlands have emerged around the Salton Sea, product of agricultural outflows or from natural seeps from springs. These incidental wetlands can serve a dual purpose; controlling dust that endangers the respiratory health of the 650,000 people who live near the Salton Sea, and creating habitat in an area of vital importance to birds migrating along the Pacific Flyway.
This first phase of the project, which is expected to take two years, includes habitat and dust control project design, scientific monitoring and data collection, and community engagement in planning design. Following successful completion of this planning phase, groundbreaking on construction would start 2023.
“Nature has presented us with a solution,” said Jones. “We’re urging state planners to include the preservation and expansion of these emergent wetlands in future projects.”
Media Contact: Jason Howe, 415-595-9245; firstname.lastname@example.org
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 www.audubon.org and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @audubonsociety.