Salton Sea Management Efforts

Current Efforts

The Salton Sea Species Conservation Habitat (SCH) Project will compensate for some of the fish and wildlife habitat that is being lost as the Salton Sea recedes and becomes more saline. SCH would comprise about 2,400 acres (depending on construction or other limitations) of created habitat configured in a series of interconnected shallow ponds. The habitat ponds would be constructed on the playa (sea bed) exposed as the Salton Sea recedes.

Large scale map of Salton Sea
Map Overview of Salton Sea. (Open PDF in new tab)
broad view of desert and mountains surrounding a lake
Viewing the Salton Sea from the east shore.

Preliminary findings from a U.S. Geological Survey, Salton Sea Science Office (USGS) pilot project demonstrate that creation of shallow ponds can provide habitat for the fish and wildlife that are dependent on the Salton Sea. The SCH Project will further develop and expand upon these initial efforts by creating a series of interconnected shallow ponds with the primary goals to:

  1. Provide protection for the fish and wildlife species dependent on the Salton Sea; and
  2. Develop and refine information needed to successfully manage the SCH Project habitat through an adaptive management process.

For more information, refer to the Draft Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Report – August 2011.

Past Efforts

The Salton Sea Ecosystem Restoration Program, Final Programatic Environmental Impact Report (PEIR) and Final Range of Alternatives purpose was to develop a preferred alternative by exploring alternative ways to restore important ecological functions of the Salton Sea that have existed for about 100 years. It must be made clear that the PEIR was developed separate from the SCH. The PEIR was primarily looking at restoration of the entire Salton Sea and has yet to move forward due to the enormous amount of money it would take to implement. The goal of the SCH however is to look at restoring features of the Salton Sea to sustain fish-eating birds. This is to be accomplished under a smaller budget. Both efforts are being driven by legislature.

The PEIR draft document contains no preferred alternative, allowing one to be selected only after an open public discussion on the document has taken place. The PEIR described eight alternatives and compared these to existing conditions and two No Action Alternative scenarios. The PEIR compared each alternatives functions, their environmental impacts, and costs. Through the public review and comments on the PEIR, and the assistance of the Salton Sea Advisory Committee, a preferred restoration alternative would be identified for inclusion into the Final PEIR. A funding plan would then be developed to explore the restoration of critical ecological functions of the Salton Sea.

The California Resources Agency is the lead agency for preparation of the PEIR and Ecosystem Restoration Study in accordance with the Salton Sea Restoration Act and related legislation, and the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The PEIR was prepared under the direction of the Department of Water Resources (DWR) and CDFW on behalf of the Resources Agency and the Secretary for Resources.

For more information please refer to the Salton Sea Restoration Program Final EIR – 2007.

The Salton Sea Monitoring and Assessment Plan' s (MAP) purpose and overarching goal was to help guide implementation of a data collection, analysis, management, and reporting system to inform and guide management actions for the Salton Sea ecosystem. Monitoring of the Salton Sea ecosystem is critical for informed decision making and to the success of potential restoration efforts. Information derived from monitoring activities would have been used to guide the initial designs for restoration and the management of restoration actions. Monitoring also would have helped ensure that management could be adjusted if there was evidence that those actions were not having the desired effects.

The specific objectives of the MAP are to:

  • Determine the existing conditions of the Salton Sea ecosystem
  • Establish standards against which data gathered during long-term monitoring could be compared
  • Identify and prioritize existing data gaps and collect data to fill those voids
  • Store, manage, and make monitoring data publicly available in a timely manner

CDFW Inland Deserts Region (Region 6)
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