Tidal marsh or ‘fake habitat’? California environmental project draws criticism
Trouble with the proposed “drought marsh” at Lower Sacramento is growing in the wake of a proposal to protect the area. A proposed plan to protect a small sliver of the delta from the effects of severe drought has been hit with a new problem – controversy.
The delta, one of America’s great natural resources, has a rich history. It once supported thousands of farms and thousands of homes, before being devastated by the dams built by the California Army Corps of Engineers.
Today, the delta stands about a third of a mile long and half a mile wide, in the middle of the Sacramento River estuary.
The delta’s history provides a complex and interesting framework for understanding the delta’s future. For decades, the delta was one of California’s most significant natural resources, and it is still critical to the regional economy.
But as the delta’s role in California’s economy has waned, its importance to conservation and the environment has also eroded. The levees and dams of the early 20th century and the extensive agricultural and grazing lands surrounding the delta have both provided a bounty, but also put pressure on the delta’s biological and cultural diversity.
The state’s plans to restore the delta and protect the delta’s ecosystem are based on preserving the delta’s rich history. The state’s Department of Water Resources is proposing a set of plans to bring the delta back to its former glory in part by protecting its key features.
These plans include the restoration and protection of an area of coastal marsh or “drought marsh” that lies between the Sacramento and American rivers.
However, critics say the proposed project is a solution in search of a problem.
A state water agency, the Department of Water Resources, believes it will succeed in its bid to restore and protect the delta’s ecosystem and its cultural and biological value. But some people in Sacramento say the agency’s plans have made the delta a political football.
Here’s a look at the facts on the delta’s current condition, and then a look at some facts about the proposed drought recovery project.
Fact: The delta is one of